Belfast Retailers Encouraged to ‘Be Good Shopkeepers’

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Excellence in customer service and showcasing Belfast to its best ability will be the main themes in Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce’s forthcoming workshop.

The one-hour event, to be held in Ten Square on Tuesday 19th November at 6.00pm will be an opportunity for both BCTC members and non-members to hear first-hand practical examples of customer service, marketing and creativity in selling products and services.

Paul McMahon, President, Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce said: “In addition to its very successful lobbying activities, Belfast Chamber works closely with our members to engage and help them to promote what their business has to offer and how we can work together to best ‘sell’ the city’s overall retail and hospitality offer.

“One such engagement is our forthcoming ‘Be Good Shop Keepers’ workshop which will aim to showcase best practice examples to those attending and outline ways in which they can ultimately improve their respective business. The event also offers a significant business network opportunity.

I believe there are a number of proactive initiatives which businesses can adopt in order to attract customers through their doors.

1.      Marketing & promotion – whether this is done in-house or by an external agency. If you don’t promote what you are doing and ‘sell’ it to the best of your ability, then how can you maximise your turnover? Businesses need to use social media, which is free and allows you to access a global audience.

2.      ‘Think outside the box’ – from how you incentivise and train your staff, to how you present your products and shop windows – one excellent example came from one of our members, Irish gift store, The Wickerman on High Street. Knowing that the World Police and Fire Games   created the potential for many tourists to come into the store, the owner Laurence came up with a home-made globe idea, made from polystyrene and painted with a map of the world. Visitors to the store were then invited to place a flag on their home land. The response to this was phenomenal with over 400 flags placed by the end of the summer, and a real talking point for visitors who then tweeted and posted Facebook pictures of themselves with the globe inside the store. Very simple, cost-effective, but visual and memorable.

3.      Customer service – this is something which Northern Ireland is getting better at, but I believe has a long way to go. The staff you employ are the ambassadors for your business and our country– so it is critical they are friendly, approachable, helpful and well briefed. Seems simple, but many businesses still fail to get it right…

“These topics will of course be explored in more detail at the event but are simple steps which all businesses can do deliver a marked improvement in business.

Paul concluded: “Belfast is our capital city. It is the gateway to the rest of Northern Ireland and the success of the whole country will depend to some extent on the success of Belfast. We must work together, from retail, entertainment and hospitality to professional services in order to showcase just how good our city is.”

The ‘Be Good Shopkeepers’ event, aimed at improving customer service and marketing  will be held onTuesday 19th November at 6.00pm. The event will be hosted in Ten Square, Belfast and will last for one hour with an optional networking opportunity afterwards. Register on the events page on the BCTC website www.belfastchamber.com

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