As a Potterhead and a Griffindor,  was struck by what Diagon Alley could teach the muggle world about retail and how we can add a little magic to your retail marketing efforts.

Marketing retail has never been easier, but also has never been tougher. The advent of social channels and online shopping has meant the opportunities to reach potential customers has never been so great, but the competition to drive either online sales or footfall into bricks and mortar stores has also never been so fierce.

Specialist Shops

Diagon Alley is successful as it has what people need. It has shops that are dedicated to a single aspect, for example Madam Malkin’s Wizard Robes, Olivanders for Wands, or Eyelops owl Emporium. Being a specialist shop definitely has its advantages in Diagon Alley, defining who you are and what you sell is important in both the online and offline retail environment. Customers like to be able to find what they want quickly and easily and often even if they like to buy items in person they will research products online before making a decision on what to buy. If you are a specialist in the item that you sell then in addition to simply offering the products for sale you can also offer advice and options that will encourage people to shop with you in the first place and also become repeat customers.

Being a specialist shop on the muggle high street is obviously more challenging than selling wands on Diagon Alley but it can be done. Setting up a surf shop in a town by the seaside and making links with local surf schools is a great way of having a specialist shop in a relevant area that can also sell products across the country to people who are interested in surfing. Similarly, and may what seem a little counterintuitive from a competitive point of view, setting up a wedding dress shop near other wedding dress shops or relevant suppliers may create a destination for all local brides who may visit all the shops but drives more traffic as they can make a day of visiting all the relevant stores. The same goes for setting up a cooking shop, perhaps near a cooking school specialist ingredients deli or popular restaurants as the people who are likely to buy your products will all be in attendance to pass and visit your shop.

The challenge of online shopping

Muggle high streets are not as vibrant as they once were, mail order and then online shopping are often discussed as the cause of this. The shops on Diagon Alley probably all offer Owl Delivery showing the need for all stores to offer different ways for customers to shop with them whether they can make it to the store or not. The magical world also has the added benefit of being able to travel quickly and easily by using floo powder or apparition, unfortunately the equivalent in the muggle world is public transport or car parks, but as many witches and wizards do make the journey to Diagon Alley it does show that if you have products or create a destination shopping experience that people enjoy they will travel to find you even if there is a quicker option such as online shopping.

 Unique Experiences or Products

Creating a shopping destination either online or in a bricks and mortar store is important for creating a reason for customers to shop with you, for example book signings like Lockhearts signing event in Flourish and Blotts bookstore bring lots of customer into your store and help with your brand recognition. In the muggle world, things like book signings, launch events, tastings, creative days or other events can ensure your store is relevant to a wide range of customers. In the online world having special time limited sales, utilising market nights on Facebook or stocking unique products that are only available with you are ways to make your online store and so your marketing efforts stand out from the crowd. Equally, developing and changing your stock to fit customer need and requirements will also ensure a fuller future customer base, adapting products you have and marketing them to a specific demographic was done very successfully on Diagon Alley by Fred and George Weasley in their Joke shop. Weasleys Wizard Wheezes identified that their joke products like vanishing hats were actually being bought by the Ministry of Magic and others as protection products and so they developed and marketed these to fit that need.

Marketing your online or bricks and mortar store can be challenging but if you identify who your customers are, or a specific slice of the customer base you want to attract and create products, events and attractive offers aimed at them then you will be able to succeed, grow and develop your retail marketing strategy to magical levels!

ahem…Ravenclaw are better….Matt 🙂