Even as online sales continue to command a significant percentage of consumer purchases, online retailers like Amazon and Alibaba have started to invest in brick-and-mortar stores. So if you are a small brick-and-mortar retailer, it's more important than ever to market your physical store properly. Here are some of the most popular and effective channels and tasks recommended by marketers.
What is retail marketing?
Retail marketing is the planning and process that goes into bringing consumers to retail locations. According to Eric Grindley, founder and CEO of Esquire Advertising, whether your establishment is brick-and-mortar or an e-commerce site, the goal is to convert your audience to satisfied retail customers.
"Retail marketing involves a wide variety of strategies and techniques that can be used depending upon the retailer's location, industry, inventory and their customer base," Grindley told business.com.
What are the various types of retail marketing?
The spectrum of techniques for retail marketing strategy is vast, Grindley said. Use the options at your disposal to expand the reach of your marketing campaigns.
Use online spaces like websites, social media and email to promote your product or service. You can also employ digital marketing campaigns, which build brand awareness among consumers you've analyzed and examined as potential customers. This could include creating a Facebook ad or Instagram page for your brand.
This is the use of ads, newspapers, magazines or brochures to boost your brand awareness. As a business owner, you can use direct mail to choose who receives the company's promotions in their mailbox. This retail strategy allows you to mail messages to consumers you feel are likely to become actual participants or buyers.
Public relations services
Public relations representatives are also a beneficial resource to have. They can help you clean up and strengthen your consumer reach through reputation management, press releases, customer retention and event planning.
You can also take advantage of social media influencers. These days, influencers are just as popular as celebrities. Using one to incorporate your brand or product in their social posts – many of which reach millions of followers – can increase your reach to consumers.
Word of mouth
Telling someone about your business, or having an event that gets people talking about your brand, will never run out of style. Word of mouth can be just as powerful as sending a promotional email. This also creates a more intimate, personal customer experience and connection.
"Different types of retail marketing can be used depending on the size and type of the retailer, be it a department store, supermarket, franchise, shopping mall or web store," Grindley said.
Retail marketing strategies for success
These tips offer insights as to how retailers can plan a marketing strategy for long-term success.
1. Keep accurate information online.
Within the retail industry, even people who shop in physical stores turn to the internet. They look for contact information like phone numbers and directions to the store. Make sure that information is current across online directories like Google and Yelp. With so many directories to track, you may want to consider a marketing automation program that monitors directories, alerts you to mistakes, and sends corrections.
2. Have an online catalog.
More than half of shoppers use online media to pre-shop. Once in the store, people also go online to compare prices and check reviews. Even if you don't sell online, having your catalog on your website with good keywords is a marketing effort that may draw others to your store, especially if you undersell the competition.
3. Use loss leaders and bundles.
Try deeply discounting a product to draw people into your store, or bundling a popular product with a less popular one and discounting the package. This provides the lure of a deal, the urgency of limitation and the expectation of exclusivity.
4. Make a fabulous window display.
Most retail marketing experts agree that an enticing window display is the best way to draw in street customers. Highlight your best products, including one big draw (like 50% off items or bundles). Reflect your store's unique style. A drab display loses the casual window shopper who might buy on impulse.
5. Host events.
Seminars, fashion shows and book signings are other events where online venues can't compete. Some experts suggest monthly events, but not all need to be heavily planned. Also, work to convert events to sales. For example, your "Spring Into Fitness" seminar would generate more sales if the attendees got a discount that day on athletic wear. You can also include one-day-only sales, limited availability items, and online coupons to use in-store.
6. Create a shopping experience.
With so many products available in abundance from multiple sources, no one really needs to frequent a specific store. Therefore, to attract and keep customers, make them want to visit, linger in, and return to your store. A clean store with friendly clerks and extras that make shoppers comfortable or excited to be there is one people will want to frequent.
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7. Hire product experts.
Hire people who know the products, or train them. For example, computer salespeople need to listen to the customers' needs and suggest the best laptop rather than the latest model, clerks should be able to advise on what outfits look best on specific body types, and the best shoe store employees know how to analyze a customer's gait and find the perfect shoe.
8. Make a relaxed atmosphere.
Bookstores started competing against Amazon by providing reading areas and sometimes coffee (free or paid for) to encourage browsers to linger long enough to fall in love with a book.
9. Cultivate familiarity.
Beyond basic friendliness, workers who recognize and acknowledge repeat customers can encourage more frequent shoppers. Encourage employees to greet familiar faces and, if they remember, reference past visits.
10. Incorporate the online with the physical.
Walmart and other retailers have started to let people order online, then pick up items in the store. For example, Rebecca Minkoff fashion stores are fully integrated online, so women can choose outfits online, try them out in the store, and, if they aren't ready to purchase, save them in their online favorites to purchase later.
11. Leverage social media.
Use social media to promote your unique brand. While offering coupons and deals for followers is excellent, most fans of a retailer's social media page do not want to be sold to. Therefore, show off the experience. Instead of announcing a new product, make an unboxing video or have employees model the latest shipment. Let patrons post photos. Do customer shout-outs or hold contests. Post articles with expert tips related to your types of products or services. The key is to engage rather than push sales.
12. Use a loyalty program.
Most point-of-sale and credit card processing systems offer loyalty programs. Use these not only to encourage loyal customers with discounts or freebies, but also to collect their information and contact them on special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries.
13. Send targeted emails.
Email newsletters are the new junk mail. Get yours read by providing useful, targeted information. Tie emails to your POS or customer relationship management software so you can send campaigns based on shopping habits. For example, you can have separate campaigns for shoppers who buy Macs and those who prefer PCs. You can also personalize by programming the software to send someone who bought a printer a six-month reminder to buy printer ink (along with a limited-time in-store coupon).
Retail marketing tools
Marsello is a data-driven retail marketing platform that integrates online and in-store purchases and consumer data to create a better customer experience. It takes the guesswork out of marketing by analyzing consumer interactions to personalize email campaigns, loyalty programs and SMS marketing to help drive sales. Marsello is an omnichannel platform, meaning its software can better serve your customers whether they're in your store, online or on their phones. Use Marsello's accurate ROI tracking to scale your business in-store and online.
iQmetrix is an IT company with telecom point-of-sale solutions for retailers. Its software provides consumers with an intelligent telecom interface, including contactless payments and a mobile POS. It collects consumer data in real time so you can analyze the effects of your retail store's marketing strategies. iQmetrix also has an intranet feature for employees to see their schedules, the latest promotions and other internal memos. Security is a top priority of iQmetrix, which has built-in encryption and tokenization capabilities.
Emarsys is another omnichannel retail management platform that relies on customer engagement for success. It uses artificial intelligence and predictive analysis to obtain feedback from customers. The software then analyzes and automates workflows based on the collected data. You can integrate Emarsys with e-commerce platforms such as Magento, Shopify and Salesforce Commerce Cloud. It also combines a CRM with automation to send consumer emails, make social media posts and develop other online marketing campaigns.
Klaviyo is a cloud-based retail marketing platform that helps businesses drive better sales with online marketing strategies. You can integrate all your consumer data from its integration directory or open API to personalize marketing solutions and further understand your audience's feedback. Klaviyo's email segmentation tools send your subscribers emails they'll actually open through customized marketing based on their interaction with your website. It also provides sales-based reporting with a comprehensive dashboard, campaign analytics and tools to track conversion rates.
Omnisend is a retail marketing platform that specializes in email marketing, SMS and automation. Retailers can use their entire suite of minimum advertised pricing (MAP) features with personalized and automated marketing campaigns to better reach their audience. It even separates and customizes emails based on a customer's shopping behavior. Omnisend also integrates with most e-commerce platforms and offers easy-to-use customizable templates for email and social media marketing. It provides SMS capabilities alongside email marketing strategies to create a consistent customer experience.
Brick-and-mortar stores still have value; otherwise, successful online companies would not be expanding into that market. Whether you own a single business or a chain, you can still compete if you remember the basics, use technology to your advantage, and provide a shopping experience that brings your customers back.
Karina Fabian and Simone Johnson contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.