In my opinion: retailers can flourish at festivals, says RetailStore

By Ian Tomlinson, CEO of RetailStore (powered by Cybertill)

Festivals: powerful engagement opportunity for retail brands

Tomlinson: technology enables retail opportunity at festivals

The true start to the festival season is upon us as Glastonbury officially kicked off the season last weekend with standout performances from the worlds best bands and artists. Each year more than 14 million of us pack up our cars with tents and wellies to venture to a festival in the UK and this year more than 1,000 taking place in 2017 alone.

More so than ever, the festival market is becoming refined and targeted to audiences who not only like particular types of music, but also enjoy different experiences both culturally and spiritually. They seek out the festivals which speak to them, their lifestyles and their needs.

Ian Tomlinson, CEO of RetailStore (powered by Cybertill) started his cloud solutions business 15 years ago and has seen first hand the positive impact festivals can have for brands. He said: “Retailers across the globe caught on to this phenomenon some years ago and more and more, festivals are seeing the mutual benefits of inviting brand partners onboard to help them boost their key messages and make the most of the few short days they have with their captive audience.

“The introduction and evolution of technology has helped this move forward at a rapid rate and retailers wanting to make the most of that brand association are beginning to realise that a cloud-based system can offer their festival-loving customers a great experience of their brand both in the fields and following the festival.”

Pop-up showroom

Neal’s Yard Remedies at the Wilderness Festival in Oxford

Much like the high street version the pop-up tent and/or shop can be a great way to engage with customers in a very traditional way. Pop-up stores that use imagination to reflect the brand values, offer a hint to the festival and have product to test, try and some product to buy work best. They offer a chance for the customer (who may have only shopped online for their product) a chance to touch, feel and see the products on display, whilst engaging with friendly, knowledgeable staff. It’s a sure fire way to keep the customer wanting more.

Extended choice

While having a pop-up store is a great thing, the best way to maximise sales from this captive audience is to ensure that staff are armed with tablets and mobile devices to showcase products in different sizes, colours and also offer them additional choice. Further product lines, complimenting products, add ons and online exclusives all delivered to their door when they arrive home from their festival experience is the best way to gain traction on that initial brand buy in and make the most of the pop-up store.

Tablets and mobile devices can showcase the full product offer

Easy payments

Cash is controversial at festivals – not only are revellers conscious of carrying cash but the queues for the cash machine as usually miles long, meaning that if the customer has to go away to get money to make their purchase, they are less likely to return. Taking away that friction by offering contactless and Apple Pay are instant and ‘frictionless’ modes to have you customers paying there and then for their products or via easy online systems. Some festivals have even introduced wearable wristbands, that allow you to pay for food, drinks and merchandise through linking back to your bank account. Keep it simple and easy – it works.

Be the beacon

Push notifications and geotagged offers are just some of the clever ways in which your marketing team can alert festival goers to your pop-up store and to also introduce your brand via offers or competitions. Beacon technology, widely used at train stations and large arenas give retailers and brands simple access to those tapped into wifi. With so many festivals offering free wifi, retailers can not only maximise the brand partnership with the festival but ensure that brand exposure with the punter too.

Get social

Retailers who get involved in the conversation with festival goers and also run mini-campaigns sharing brand-relevant images and video are the winners when it comes to social media at festivals. With improved 4G and wifi at most festivals these days it allows festival-goes to be all over their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram than ever before and # have a way of tapping into the audience in an instant. Snapchat, every new festival-goers new favourite app, has a way to pay for a geo-targeted filter – the perfect way to really put your captive festival-loving customer in a frame.

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(A Retail Times’ sponsored article)