So many special occasions feel less special this year – but as retailers, we have the opportunity to help make our customers feel celebrated.   Our shop keeps a record of the birthday month of customers joining our rewards program, and we offer them a wrapped, quality gift if they bring in the postcard we send out.  Although we didn’t do the mailing during the months were were closed this spring, we are now back on track – with a sticker encouraging the customer to add “birthday gift” to their curbside pickup order if they don’t want to come inside the shop.

Because our store’s name is Orange Tree Imports, we usually select an orange colored or themed item for the year’s birthday gift, and have at least a month or two supply ready to go in individual gift bags behind the counter. Our suppliers know that we are always looking for an “orange” closeout, preferably a kitchen item, so our average cost is around $2 to $3 for something worth closer to $8.  Customers often remark how many orange items they have in their kitchen thanks to this program – and we love to know that they remind them of our shop whenever they cook.

When customers sign up for our rewards program, we mention that they’ll receive a gift if they share their birthday month (not year, of course).  This has been a good incentive for signing up more people – which in turn increases our email list.  Permission-based email is an important – and almost free – part of our marketing program.

If you have a smaller list of top customers who have shared their birth months with you, a personal birthday card would be worth considering.  Many people tell us that they don’t get many cards or gifts on their special day, which is why they really appreciate the post card we send.  Of course there are many customers who do not come in for their gift – we hope they at least are happy to get the card.

Independent retailers aren’t the only ones offering birthday gifts, although a snail mail card from a local shop somehow seems more personal than an email from a chain. This article from Dealnews featuring “The 149 Best Birthday Freebies in 2020” may give you some ideas of what to offer. Discount coupons are a common choice, but doesn’t that seem more like an advertisement than a present?

Birthdays don’t need to be the only occasions you celebrate.  If you have a wedding registry, follow up with an anniversary card one year later.  If you sell pet gifts, invite customers in for a treat for their dog or cat on the animal’s birthday.  If you know of the arrival of a new baby, or grandchild, send your congratulations.  Because this year more than ever our customers need  to have their spirits lifted!

Happy Retailing, 

Carol “Orange” Schroeder

PS Please note that there will not be a Specialty Shop Retailing blog post next week.