Ipswich City Council is launching a new pilot program in Ipswich Central centred around embracing and enhancing the visual merchandising of businesses.
In today’s environment, shoppers have multiple platforms to shop from and enticing buyers to stop, stay and spend is more valuable than ever.
Shoppers are savvy and seek an immersive experience and research shows bricks-and-mortar stores have three seconds to attract and engage a customer.
Ipswich Central Redevelopment Committee Chairperson and Division 3 Councillor Marnie Doyle said these dynamics led to council partnering with Shopology to offer the Made You Look: How To Create Visual Impact program.
“This program is about providing support to our small businesses by enhancing their shop window and product display skills to attract more customers, improve sales and increase economic activity in Ipswich Central,” Cr Doyle said.
“Shopology’s retail expert Dr Louise Grimmer will conduct an online store audit and a one-hour physical store review, giving recommendations to participating businesses including on how to improve their brand awareness, maximise the efficiency of their floorspace and create a positive experience.”
Division 3 Councillor Andrew Fechner said the pilot program would help Ipswich Central continue to emerge as a vibrant and culturally rich city centre.
“Ipswich Central is the cultural hub and beating heart of our city and council is working to continually improve and revitalise the precinct for the benefit of the whole community,” Cr Fechner said.
“Unique and enticing local shops are a big part of what makes Ipswich Central special and the Made You Look Program is designed to help them flourish and thrive.”
Ipswich Region Chamber of Commerce CEO Kit Philp said it was a great initiative that would help reinvigorate local businesses.
“Targeted programs such as Made You Look are really beneficial for businesses as a personalised analysis and recommendations are made,” Ms Philp said.
“Each business is unique and this will help Ipswich Central offer a range of services and experiences for residents and tourists alike.”
Some of the local crafts from Ipswich artists available at the Hive Marketplace.
Ipswich Central business Hive Marketplace owner Julieanne Gardner said she looked forward to applying for the program.
“It’s an excellent initiative from the council and I can see how applying for the program will help me improve the visual impact of my shop,” Ms Gardner said.
“Hive Marketplace is a collective retail space for local artisans and businesses, so it’s great that this program will also strengthen the wider local economy.”
To be considered for the program, businesses need to apply, with applications now open until 30 November 2023.
Successful applicants will be notified by 15 December 2023.
To be eligible, a business must be physically located in the Ipswich Central area with a shopfront, and not be part of a franchise or head office style of arrangement.
Store audits of businesses accepted into the program will take place between 12-16 February 2024.
As part of this initiative, Dr Grimmer will also conduct an event called Boosting Main Street Shopping: Embracing Consumer Behaviour, from 5pm to 7pm on Tuesday 13 February 2024, at council’s administration building, 1 Nicholas Street, Ipswich.
This event is open to any business in the local government area and areas of discussion will include an overview of the key economic challenges for the customer, how these challenges affect customer habits and how to adapt the in-store experience to optimise potential, improve performance and enhance the customer experience.
Dr Louise Grimmer is a Fulbright Scholar and Senior Fellow of the Institute of Place Management. She has a PhD in retail marketing and a Master’s in Public Relations and Communications. Her research on consumer behaviour, retailing and how retailers can respond to changes in shopping behaviour is published internationally.
For more details on the program, including how to apply, visit Ipswich.qld.gov.au/funding
Visit Humanitix to register for Boosting Main Street Shopping: Embracing Consumer Behaviour