Industry sector: Retail and wholesale

Shoe shop: Promoting your business

The right image

It's important that your shoe shop projects the right image to customers. Everything about the way your shop looks and feels should be designed to attract new customers and to encourage existing customers to keep coming back regularly.

It's a good idea to make the outside of the shop as attractive and welcoming as possible. Try to make sure that signs are professionally made, clean and in good condition. Use colours, lettering and design that you feel put across the right image - for example a shop specialising in children's shoes should look different to one selling only expensive adult designer shoes. Bear in mind that things like the condition of the paintwork can make the difference between a shop that looks like it's up and coming and one that looks old and run-down. Keep your windows spotlessly clean and well lit.

Make sure that your window displays are attractively laid out and changed regularly. It can be a good idea to use signs in your window or outside your shop to draw attention to new ranges or special offers. You could also consider having an external display rack of shoes to attract passers by, but make sure that shoes don't fall off and look untidy.

Make sure that the inside of your outlet is clean, tidy and that shoes and any accessories you stock are arranged in a neat and orderly way. This will make it easy for customers to find what they are looking for. Look into ways of encouraging customers to buy as much as possible. For example, you could position accessories like handbags alongside matching ranges of shoes. Or you could put a rack of shoe cleaning products on the counter top next to the till and recommend them to customers when they pay for their shoes.

Don't forget that you and any staff you employ play a key role in shaping the image of your business. Customers will expect staff to be friendly, helpful and enthusiastic. You might encourage them to wear shoes of the type sold in the shop. This will let customers see how the shoes look when they're worn, and enable the salesperson to speak from experience about how comfortable and durable the shoes are.

Advertising your shop

It's essential to make sure that as many potential customers as possible know about the products and services you offer.

There are a number of things you can do to promote your business, for example:

  • launch your own website, showing all the features that will attract customers to your outlet. Think about selling your footwear ranges online too - this is becoming much more popular with customers
  • advertise on and other similar online directories. You could also consider advertising in local print directories
  • join the Independent Footwear Retailers Association (IFRA) and benefit from a listing in the IFRA online directory
  • advertise in your local newspaper
  • do a targeted mail-shot or leaflet drop
  • sponsor a local event or sports team
  • offer special discounts and free goods from time to time - for example a free cleaning product with every pair of shoes purchased. Advertise special offers prominently in your window, and consider using Facebook or Twitter to tell customers about what's new

Almost all types of advertising and promotion have a cost, whether it's financial, your own time and effort - or both. You need to make sure that the beneficial effects of your advertising efforts are worth the time and money spent on them. It's up to you to decide which types of advertising work best for you - sometimes this is down to trial and error.