How to use Pokémon Go to get more customers to your retail business

Pokémon Go fever is sweeping the globe. The mobile app, which encourages users to walk around in order to play, now has more users than Twitter, who spend more time on it than the average Facebook user.

While some have found the bands of roving gamers to be something of a nuisance, others are cashing in on the opportunity to attract new customers, with some even reporting an increase in customer numbers of up to 70%.

From pop-up businesses to established ventures, many people are finding ways to make the app work for them.

So how can your local business harness the power of Pokémon Go?

Sit back and let them come to you

Many retail businesses are seeing the benefits of Pokémon Go without having to engage with the game at all. As players spend their time wandering the streets in search of virtual Pokémon through the augmented-reality app, there has been an increase in footfall simply because the game exists.

Of course, the impact is higher the more densely populated the area, but even rural and suburban areas are seeing more people out and about, even if they are spending most of their time staring at their phones.

Appeal to Pokéfans

While you may be seeing a small increase in business because of Pokémon Go, this can be increased when you engage with the players. Some stores are offering discounts to players who have caught particularly rare Pokémon or who are a member of one of the game’s three teams. Others have taken to selling Pokémon-themed products, such as ‘pokeball doughnuts’.

If these options won’t work for your business, even putting up a display that welcomes players in could make a difference. You may not necessarily sell to all people who wander in looking for a Pikachu, but there will be those who do buy something, and raising awareness of your shop is never a bad thing.

One word of caution here is that you should try to be familiar with the app, or at least read one of the many online tutorials and learn the lingo. Nothing is more cringeworthy than an organisation trying to be “down with the kids” but rather missing the mark. The only thing you’ll attract that way is ridicule from the very people you were trying to tempt in.

My local indie clothing store is a PokéStop; they're getting in the spirit!

Using your Pokémon Go location to your advantage

Beyond simply appealing to fans of the game, you can engage with the game itself in order to draw customers to your business. As it’s based on real-world geography, your shop will have a location in the game, and if it’s been marked as one of the two possible types of in-game locations of special interest - PokéStops and Gyms - you’ll definitely be seeing more players.

If a player wants to use a PokéStop or Gym then they have to be within range of that location, and it’s usually a very short range. While this will bring players right to your doorstep, there is more you can do to lure them in and secure their business.

1. If your business is a Pokéstop

A PokéStop is a place where players can pick up virtual items that are useful for the game. If your business has been marked as a PokéStop you can purchase ‘lure modules’, which increase the number of Pokémon at your PokéStop. The game will flag any PokéStop that has an active lure module, so players in the area will flock in to catch the Pokémon, and with any luck, you’ll be able to catch them.

If you’re interested in placing lures you will need to be using the game itself, and they will work out at about £1 an hour. You can also let people know about your lures on social media and plan other promotions to run at the same time - this can be as simple as a sale that’s taking place, or offering special discounts to people who catch a certain number or certain type of Pokémon. The game is competitive in nature, so anything that ties in with that will appeal to players.

2. If your business is a Gym

A Pokémon Gym is a place where players come to virtually battle against other players’ Pokémon. If your business is a Gym, this is something else you can flag up on social media. Review site Yelp has begun listing the businesses that are in-game Gyms, so it could well be worth seeing if yours has been listed.

Unfortunately, you can’t use a lure at a Gym, but this is where the competitiveness really kicks in. Each Gym will be under the control of one of three teams, but the other teams will be fighting to take control of it. Anime Imports, an American retail company, has been offering discounts to members of the team that’s in control of their gym, while others encourage players to take control of the Gym for the chance of an even bigger discount or even a free give-away.

The pizza place that I work at just put up this sign.

3. If your business is neither

You can submit a form with Niantic, the developer of Pokémon Go, if you’d like your shop to be listed as a PokéStop or a Gym, but in the meantime, there are couple of other things you can do.

  • Some shops are advertising the Pokémon available nearby both on signs or chalkboards outside their storefront and on their social media pages. Some are rarer than others and will appeal more, so make sure you’ve swatted up on which is which. You can ask customers to post the Pokémon they’ve caught in and near your shop on social media in exchange for a discount or being entered into a prize draw.

  • And if you can’t bring the Pokémon to you, then take your shop to the Pokémon! If you can buy advertising space near Gyms or PokéStops you can indicate your Pokémon credentials and related offers. If that’s not an option you could always approach the businesses behind the Gyms and PokéStops. If you can partner for joint promotions or advertise within their premises then you’ll be able to drive traffic to your business.

Found another way to lure in customers with Pokémon Go? Think it’s just a fad with no real merit? Let us know in the comments section below.

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