A Guide to Celebrating Independent Retail on Independents’ Day

This is a guest post from Cherry Orchard, one of the leading suppliers of greetings cards to independent retailers based in the UK. Launched in 1995, the portfolio of greetings cards has now grown to include an extensive collection of designs for every special occasion, covering all the main relations, occasions, ages and seasonal captions. Offering a wide range of price points and styles, there is something for all tastes and budgets, from value ranges right through to luxurious cards with special finishes and stunning inserts and verses in both traditional and contemporary styles. 

If you run an independent business and are looking forward to celebrating Independents’ Day, don’t be afraid to turn to your suppliers for help in promoting your business and their products. Their success depends very much on yours and they will be only too pleased to help where they can. Perhaps you need content for your website or marketing campaigns. Why not ask your suppliers if they want to be involved in your 4th July plans and pool ideas as to how you can work together. As a business supplying greetings cards to independent retailers, we’ve been involved in many promotional opportunities to help give our retailers’ business a boost. Here’s our story.

We’ve been supplying greetings cards at Cherry Orchard to independent retailers since 1995 and next year we’re planning our 25th business anniversary. We work closely with retailers as our team of Area Sales Managers seek ongoing feedback on our products and on the retailers’ wishlists. Our product development starts at this end of the process, refining what we know has worked well but also taking a leap of faith with new ideas and monitoring closely to see how they fare.

Getting the best product to market and enjoying a great relationship with our retailers, by making sure that everything runs smoothly are our key goals. When we’re confident that we’ve developed a great product, with the best quality and at the best price, persuading retailers to take the products on board in a fiercely competitive marketplace is no easy task. Once the trade account has been opened we’re keen to make sure that the relationship is nurtured so that we can work together to develop and grow both businesses for many years to come.

In today’s hectic world there’s many plates to spin, making sure orders are dispatched accurately and on time, financial matters are kept in check, communication with customers is regular and ongoing so that they know they’re enjoying excellent customer service and if there are any glitches, they’re nipped in the bud.

But sometimes even that might not be enough. You may have the best products on the shelves of the nicest shop in town but unless the outside world wanders in and discovers them then the products will remain sitting on the shelf. Independent shops do a wonderful job of attracting people into their stores, overcoming huge obstacles and frustrations that they have no control over, from the weather to high parking charges or business rates and competitive businesses nearby. Chatting to retailers at trade shows or industry events can be a stark reminder of just how little support there is for the shopkeepers on whom we rely to give our local towns the character that they have, making them great places to visit and relax in.

We’re always very keen to try and help promote our retailers. We regularly run competitions for our shops, from Grand Prize Draws to Best window displays or Shop of the Month and celebrate our winners’ success by sending off the stories to trade press and local newspapers. We’re very active on social networks, supplying our products as competition giveaway prizes for our retailers to promote on their own pages to help them get their followers numbers up.

In recent months we’ve been busy arranging our own 4th July event to support Independents’ Day. We’ll be running some competitions and helping retailers to celebrate the day to get people into their shops and we’re also planning an open day at our design studios in Canterbury for our retailers to come and meet our whole team, exchange ideas, enjoy champagne and canapes and take away a goodie box with over £200 of our products (based on RRP) inside.  It’s part of our business culture that we network regularly with our retailers so they can meet not just our team but other retailers and pool and share ideas.

Sometimes it can be a simple message or phone call from a customer asking us to post nice good quality images on our social pages of our new releases so that they can share them and announce the arrival of new stock in their own store. With a team of designers and resources to be able to do this easily, it makes it just that little bit easier for our busy shopkeepers to promote their stores and our products by simply sharing our posts.

The retailers in turn can post this to the local social pages of their town where community groups help support the independent shops. This works particularly well on seasonal events such as Valentine’s and Mother’s Day to persuade people to take some extra care when choosing a nice card or special treat, from a gift to flowers or chocolate or a special meal out where a networked group of shops can work together to encourage people to spend time in the local community.

As 4th July draws closer, why not turn your creative flair to making it a day for us all to celebrate our wonderful independent businesses and arrange some networking events with local community groups and businesses or suppliers to show off the wonderful community spirit that our many beautiful towns are so lucky to have.

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