How to Attract Customers to Your Ice Cream Shop

How to Attract Customers to Your Ice Cream Shop

Posted by | 15-12-2020

Ice cream trucks, cones, and sundae cups may be summer staples, but there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy these delightful treats year-round — which has made them so easy to sell. The fact is, everyone loves a good scoop of ice cream, whether it’s classic comfort flavours like vanilla and chocolate or even bizarre new concoctions from novelty stores. Ice cream is a commodity that will sell itself, but edging out the competition still requires some creative marketing.

While ice cream tubs and pints stack up in novelty freezers lining the frozen food aisles of grocery stores, ice cream shops specialize in delivering a novel experience with their interiors and artisanal flavours. It’s this ambiance that sets ice cream shops apart from busy grocery stores and allows customers to peruse and even taste different flavours from display coolers and novelty freezers

Your job is to create this experience so well that customers are willing to line up outside just for a scoop. Here’s a complete guide to bringing more customers into your ice cream shop.

Upsell and Cross-Sell to Customers

Yes, you’re already selling delicious cones, cups, and even pints to-go at your ice cream shop, but there’s a lot more you can sell. Give customers more reasons to come back — even if they have to line up — by upselling and cross-selling other products. You don’t have to create an entirely separate menu for other frozen treats like milkshakes or dessert items like cake. 

Start small with order add-ons like toppings and specialty cones. Customers are more likely to respond to direct asks, so don’t be afraid to ask if they want to add toppings or upgrade to a different cone. Depending on your ice cream shop’s size and your kitchen capacity, you can expand the menu later on to sell other snacks and treats that go well with a scoop of ice cream.

Whip Up New Flavours

Every ice cream lover has their go-to, classic comfort flavour. Chocolate and vanilla are some of these favourites, but you need to get bold to stand out from the rest of the market.

Not sure how customers will respond to an all-novelty flavours ice cream shop? Start by offering variations or unique spins on classic flavours, then slowly introduce completely new and bold ones. 

By the time you do, customers won’t be scratching their heads or leaving their spot in line, no matter how bizarre these new flavours are. You will already have captured their interest, and they will trust you enough to know that you only sell good ice cream. They will even appreciate your bold and exotic take and ability to craft new flavours that make this classic treat even more delightful in every scoop.

Get Gimmicky

Customers love something that creates a buzz or makes a splash — and ice cream is one of the most marketable goods for fun gimmicks. Anyone would love to win a free scoop or sample a unique new flavour, and their excitement will guarantee skyrocketing sales. All it takes is the perfect gimmick.

Gimmicks for ice cream shops can range from freebies when customers enter a contest, like posting on their Instagram account and tagging your shop, or even ones that don’t promise freebies but change up your store’s ambiance. 

Add some decor to your novelty freezer, and make sure it’s illuminated brightly, so each flavour looks even more enticing. Keep each flavour separate inside a novelty freezer, and put clear labels so customers can request samples before deciding on their favourite scoop. Major ice cream lovers won’t be able to resist the draw of discounted prices on multiple scoops and will come back to try other flavours they missed out on the first time.

You could also try a giant ice cream sign or standee outside your store. Or start offering healthy alternatives, like lactose-free ice cream flavours, so health-conscious customers won’t feel guilty when indulging in this delicious treat.

As a new small business, it might not seem like you’re in the position to hand out freebies when you need to sell a lot of inventory to recoup your capital investment. But giving out cones and pints at these well-attended, crowd-drawing events will pay for themselves in no time.

Local concerts, fairs, and other community events tend to draw a lot of foot traffic, all eager to make memories and have a good time. Delicious ice cream will play a massive part in putting smiles on their faces. Many tight-knit communities love to support local, homegrown brands, so they’ll be more than happy to sample your delicious treats, buy a few cones or pints, and even head over to your ice cream shop for more. 

All you need to do is come prepared — bring a portable novelty freezer to market your best-sellers, and make sure you have signs and flyers so potential customers know where to find the best ice cream and will remember your name.

Create a Pop-Up Tasting Bar

Pop-up events are everywhere — they’re fun and exciting, and customers respond well to them because they promise exclusive offers for a limited amount of time before moving on to the next event in another store or even another area. For ice cream shop owners, pop-up events are a great way to branch out and expand their market area without an added start-up cost.

You’ll be surprised at how many grocery stores and retailers welcome these partnership events. Simply set up a small tasting bar by the entrance or in the frozen section right next to novelty freezers where your products are prominently placed, and compete with long-standing best-sellers directly, thanks to your in-store presence. 

Starting Your Ice Cream Business Successfully

Wondering how to start an ice cream shop or how to open an ice cream shop? Embarking on an ice cream business venture can be rewarding, and with the right ice cream business ideas and marketing strategy for ice cream, you can ensure success.

Starting Your Ice Cream Business Successfully

Ice cream shops represent more than just a place to buy a sweet treat; they're a hub of joy, memories, and delightful flavors. Whether it's the nostalgia of one's favorite childhood scoop or the excitement of discovering a new taste, an ice cream shop holds a special place in many hearts. If you're considering diving into this sweet venture, the journey might seem daunting, but with the right steps and guidance, it's entirely attainable. Below, we outline a comprehensive roadmap to transform your ice cream dream into a successful reality.

  • Research and Planning: Begin with understanding the market. Dive deep into ice cream business ideas. Are you looking to introduce some unique ice cream shop ideas or stick to the classics?
  • Find the Right Location: When opening up an ice cream shop, location is pivotal. Find a location that attracts foot traffic and offers a cozy ambiance for those looking to savor their ice cream leisurely.
  • Get the Essentials: Understand the equipment needed to start an ice cream shop. This would include display coolers, novelty freezers, and other essential machinery.
  • Creative Marketing: Think about your ice cream marketing ideas. Would you go for classic ice cream advertisement methods, or do you have some unique ice cream selling ideas? Consider hosting an ice cream social where people can sample and vote for their favorite flavors.
  • Expand and Adapt: Monitor customer feedback for ice cream ideas to sell. Regularly adapt your flavors and introduce new ones.

Promoting Your Ice Cream Shop

In the age of digital marketing, how to promote ice cream effectively is a valid concern. Consider the following:

  • Social Media Contests: Encourage customers to post their ice cream experience and use a specific hashtag. The best photo or story could win a month's free ice cream.
  • Ice Cream Shop Advertisement: Invest in both online and offline ice cream shop advertisements. In addition to digital ads, posters, and hoardings can significantly impact.
  • Community Engagement: Think about sponsorship at local events, fairs, and more. Setting up an ice cream stall at these events can be a great way to introduce your brand to a wider audience.
  • Pop-Up Tasting Bars: As mentioned in the original blog, pop-ups are trendy. They offer a great way to get feedback on potential new flavors and expand your customer base.

Ensuring Profitability in the Ice Cream Business

The question that many entrepreneurs ask is: Is the ice cream business profitable? The answer is yes. But, like any business, it requires dedication, innovation, and constant adaptation. With the right ice cream business plan, you can ensure profitability and longevity. While many might think of selling ice cream as a simple venture, there's a world of possibilities and innovations waiting to be explored. Whether you're looking at ice cream selling from a stall or planning on opening your very own store, remember that every scoop you sell brings joy to someone.

Customers can stop to chat, ask questions, and sample a few flavours, and reach for a tub in novelty freezers as they shop. You can even get them to try new flavours and ask for feedback, so you can decide whether these can be added to your regular menu.

With the right event marketing, store ambience, and warm customer service, you can easily invite more customers to check out your ice cream shop. 

To learn more about attracting more customers to your ice cream shop, call Ancaster Food Equipment at (855) 888-9644, or contact us here.

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