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5 retail trends shaping 2011

How well is your store capturing the attention of today's social media-savvy shopper? The following techniques and strategies from consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch can help you boost sales and better stand out from the competition. 

Sure you have a Facebook page, maybe even a Twitter feed, but to capture the attention of today's social media-savvy consumer, you'll need to take it a step further. Here are a few things consumer savings expert, Andrea Woroch says are encouraging people to open their wallets in 2011. By adopting some of these techniques in your store, you may increase floor traffic, boost sales and better stand out from the competition. Best of all, most aren't too hard to execute.

1. Daily Deals
"With the explosion of limited-time daily deals via group-buying (more than 23 million in the last year) and flash-sale sites like Gilt Group and Jetsetter, it's no surprise other retailers have adopted this successful sales strategy," Woroch says. You can follow the lead of online retailers like Target and Overstock and offer a Deal-of-the-Day. "Try a campaign," suggests Jay Jacobowitz, president and founder of Retail Insights, a Brattleboro, Vt.-based consulting service for natural products retailers.  " ‘Who says there’s no free lunch?’ Offer a free cup of soup or half-sandwich to customers who bring in a coworker or neighbor. And then offer [the new customer] the same thing.”

2. Name Your Own Price
"Gap has recently taken the daily deal concept a step further with the launch of its new Gap My Price program, which allows customers to bid for clothing and accessories," Woroch says. "The process is the same as with Priceline, which targets cost-conscious travelers: You extend a sales offer for a particular item; Gap then makes a final offer you can either accept or reject." Could your store do something similar? Perhaps a name your price program for educational classes, or a twitter post allowing the first 100 buyers of [name a promotional item] to pay what they think the product's worth.    

3. Free Shipping
"Online stores like Zappos and Piperlime now offer free shipping both ways and merchants like Walmart and REI offer site to store free shipping," Woroch says. Behind the draw of free shipping lies a more alluring promise: convenience. Does your store offer a delivery or drive-through service? The British supermarket chain Tesco turned heads last year by launching the United Kingdom's first drive-through supermarket service. Similar to home-delivery grocery services, customers pay a flat fee to purchase their items online, and then select a two-hour window when they can ick them up at the store.

4. Mobile Sales, Coupons and Instant Deals
"The busier customers are, they more they rely on their smartphones to shop, compare prices and look for deals while on-the-go," Woroch says. "Retailers have cottoned onto this need as a new opportunity for capturing and engaging customers." To learn how to offer mobile deals in your store, check out the National Retail Federation's Mobile Retail Initiative. The online guide helps prepare retailers for customers who want to get product information and make purchases from their phones.  

5. Social Media Sales
"Also known as social shopping, the process allows consumers and retailers to aggregate and share information in real time about special offers, products, prices and purchases," Woroch says. "The big advantage to consumers is they needn't leave a social-media site to shop and can immediately share their purchase with friends and other fans." List special deals on your Facebook and Twitter accounts only available for purchase through the social media sites.

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