A retail marketing strategy is an actionable plan to develop and promote products in order to increase revenue. Retail marketing strategies can encompass the entire process of retailing from initial product ideation all the way through a completed sale. The best retail strategies prioritize customer needs and preferences while also driving sales.
Marketing your retail business is easier with the right tools. A point-of-sale (POS) system like Vend automatically tracks sales, inventory, and customers, so you always have the data you need to make informed decisions on marketing, product purchases, and merchandising displays. Visit Vend for a free trial.
8 Tips for Developing a Retail Marketing Strategy
Whether you are a seasoned business owner or just starting a retail business, it is important to constantly evaluate and develop a retail marketing strategy. Your retail marketing strategy is how you attract customers, secure sales, and keep shoppers coming back. Retail strategies are holistic and encompass everything from the appearance of your store to product selection and pricing.
Here are eight tips for developing a retail marketing strategy:
1. Develop Curb Appeal
The first step in revamping a retail marketing strategy for a brick and mortar store is taking a good hard look at the outside of your store. What message is your storefront sending? Storefronts are easily neglected, as business owners are usually rushing inside to get to work, and the outside simply goes unnoticed.
However, for your potential customers and passerby, the storefront is their first impression of your business. The outside should be kept clean and tidy with fresh paint, polished windows, and a clean sidewalk. In addition to relentless cleanliness, retailers should also consider the strategies they are using to lure customers inside.
“Customers make a lot of assumptions about your store based on its curb appeal (or lack-there-of). An appealing looking storefront tells a customer, ‘They have good quality, interesting products here.’ If you have an outdated or dirty storefront, customers are going to pass you by. Refreshing your storefront can include small inexpensive updates such as a crisp new coat of paint or power washing your exterior bricks and sidewalk. Replace dated exterior light fixtures, replace your store hours sign with a modern door decal, and add some planter boxes that can be filled with seasonal plants.”
—Jacquie Young-Sterling, Director of Customer Experience, Compliantia
Design Window Displays
Creating appealing window displays is a must for developing your retail store’s curb appeal. Window displays are one of the most important parts of retail strategy, especially for businesses on a heavily trafficked road. When creating a window display, choose a theme that resonates with buyers such as a holiday or seasonal theme. Then, select a general color scheme. Next, arrange your display using a variety of heights and depths to make it interesting.
Install Storefront Signage
Another important element of your retail marketing strategy is the outdoor signage. If you can, install a storefront sign with your name that can be easily read by cars and pedestrians across the street. Make sure to have smaller signage by your front door and on your windows for people walking by your store that may be too close to see your larger overhead sign.
“Some 95% of consumers said that the external appearance of a store influences their decision to shop there. An attractive exterior experience can improve sales, increase your property value, and—most importantly—make the difference between passersby just walking on or stepping foot into your store. About 68% of Americans believe the store sign is reflective of the quality of its products. It is, therefore, crucial to ensure they are in good condition, have high color contrast, and be visible from at least 10 feet away.”
—Jim Arabia, VP of Marketing, BigRentz
Use Outdoor Lighting
Lighting is another critical aspect of your storefront retail marketing strategy. Having a well-lit entry and sidewalk is important for customer safety. Also, having your sign and window display lit up also helps customers notice or find your store at night.
“Lighting is a key element to an effective and attractive store window. The lighting design should complement the products being displayed and render the colors well to show off their attractiveness. The use of lighting effects can also create the mood of the setting in which a product is used such as mimicking bright daylight for outdoor active gear or dimmed lighting for evening wear. Colorful LED lighting can also help draw attention to the storefront itself and be part of the signage and branding package.”
—Claire E. Tamburro, ASID, LEED AP, ID + C, Principal, Tamburro Interiors, LLC
2. Use The Space You Have
When revamping your retail marketing strategy, it’s not always necessary to spend a ton of money. There are several steps you can take to improve the customer experience and sales in your current store. Little steps like replanning your store layout or strategizing your point of sale display can make a big impact.
Organize Your Retail Displays
When operating a retail store, you want to make your merchandise do some of the work for you. Effective product placements can lure in shoppers, guide them through your store, and increase overall sales.
When organizing your retail display, follow these general guidelines:
- Showcase new and seasonal products at the entrance: Entice customers with seasonal or holiday displays and trending products; keeping the front of your store fresh also gives regular shoppers something new to browse.
- Place traffic-driving products toward the back: Place your bestselling items or sales racks at the back of the store so customers need to walk past and see all of your other merchandise.
- Highlight impulse buys at the checkout: Stock small, low-cost items like candy, toys, makeup, or electronic accessories by the checkout counter so customers pick them up while waiting to check out.
The two most important parts of retail merchandising are that your displays stay tidy and that you change them often. Products should always be organized for customers, and new displays keep them coming back to see what is new.
Monetize Your Point of Sale
A retail strategy tip that is super easy to implement is monetizing your point of sale. Almost any retailer can do this successfully from a high-end boutique to a corner store. The point of sale is your checkout counter or the area where customers complete a purchase. Retailers monetize this area by displaying smaller, relatively less expensive products that customers might have forgotten they needed or items that shoppers will be enticed to pick up while waiting in line.
For example, grocery stores usually have candy bars, mints, gum, ChapStick, magazines, and batteries lining their checkout counters. Apparel stores will typically have smaller items like wallets, hair accessories, or jewelry by the checkout.
Many wholesalers that supply these smaller items offer free counter displays specifically for point of purchase sales. Use those free displays to test out placing different products at the counter until you see what works, then design a more elegant display that matches the rest of your store.
Create a Comfortable Environment
Customers that spend more time in a store spend more money. Encourage shoppers to relax and take their time by creating a comfortable retail environment. If you sell apparel, have accessible and well-lit fitting rooms as well as comfortable seats for friends and family to wait while clothes are being tried on.
Have sample stations for customers to test products. Play thoughtfully chosen music and make sure your store is well-lit for every shopper. An important part of creating a comfortable store environment is making sure it is accessible. Aisles should be wide, and the checkout counter should have a section that is no higher than 36 inches off the ground so that it is wheelchair accessible.
Boost In-Store Brand Engagement
When developing your retail marketing strategy, there are a few simple and nearly free steps you can take to boost in-store brand engagement. Get your employees involved and engaged when it comes to talking to customers.
When it comes to non-verbal engagement, retailers can also:
- Showcase social media handles: Many stores and boutiques have displays with simple signage asking shoppers to follow their Instagram handle or Facebook account; letterboards are inexpensive and effective for this purpose.
- Offer discounts for customer reviews or check-ins: Offer shoppers a small discount for leaving a review or for checking into your business on Facebook.
- Have a classic giveaway contest: Have a jar at checkout collecting customer contact information for a chance to win a seasonal product bundle.
3. Sell Custom Products
When creating a retail strategy, custom products are probably one of the first things that come to mind. Whether you are manufacturing a patented invention or creating a simple private label line, having products that shoppers can’t find anywhere else is an important step in increasing brand loyalty, name recognition, and can be a fantastic sales driver for your business.
“Independent retailers should provide custom products and services because it sets you apart from the competition. The internet has really changed up business and the way people shop these days. If you can focus on the experience people have at your store and create unique, memorable ones, the customers will remember you and continue to do business with you. It is not only customer service, but it is also about the total experience, and customization is part of that.”
—Alissa Noshie, Gemologist & Designer, Almaza Jewelers
Before selling products, it is important to make sure that your brand name is protected. Every retailer should register their business and trademark their brand name as well as any private label lines. Incfile makes it easy for small businesses to register a business and trademarks online. Visit Incfile to get started.
Sell Private or While Label Products
Selling private label products is much easier than developing a custom product but offers many of the same benefits. Private label products are products manufactured by a supplier but sold under your brand name. Private label products are especially popular for skincare, beauty, food and grocery, kitchen, decor, accessories, tools, and electronic products.
Create Brand Equity Through Private Label Brands
Creating private label products is a smart step in building out a retail marketing strategy. When people use products with your brand name or product line name on them, it reminds them of your store every time they use the product. It builds trust if customers buy a quality product with your name on it. Plus, retailers can typically make more money from private label products, as they are usually inexpensive to manufacture, but can be marked up to a much higher price as shoppers won’t be able to find that item anywhere else.
“It can really be to your advantage to carry products that can’t be bought anywhere but your store. Savvy shoppers will look for the lowest price, but if you carry custom products that can only be bought in your shop, you will always have the best price. With that, you can name your own retail price. This provides a great opportunity for highly profitable products if you are able to purchase at a low net cost. Your most loyal fans will pay a premium price for a design they love and can’t buy anywhere else.”
—Rachel Stephens, SEO & Customer Behavior Analyst, Totally Promotional
4. Cultivate Employees as Brand Ambassadors
When building out your retail marketing strategy, don’t forget to consider the face of your brand. Your employees are the ones who interact with your customers the most. They represent your brand on a daily basis. It is important to make sure they embody the values of your business and provide a positive experience for every customer.
Use Associates as the Face of Your Business
Humanize your business by showcasing your employees. If you have a brick and mortar store, your regular shoppers already know your store associates and will appreciate seeing a familiar face on online posts or marketing materials. If you have an online store, having an “About Us” page introducing your staff puts some faces behind your brand name.
5. Develop Your Brand Online
Whether you have an ecommerce store, brick and mortar store, or sell on-the-go, having an online presence is a crucial part of developing a retail marketing strategy. Having an online presence provides more opportunities for sales, especially for shoppers that don’t live near your store or can’t make it in during store hours. However, engaging with customers online also helps keep your business at the front of their minds so that they think of you when they do need to make a purchase.
Use Social Media
There are a few key social sites that every retailer should be participating in: Facebook, Instagram, Yelp and Google. Having an active Google My Business account is important because it helps customers find accurate contact information on Google. Being active on Google and Yelp also allows you to see and respond to customer feedback. These two sites are important for helping prospective customers find your business.
Instagram and Facebook are great for maintaining relationships with current customers. Instagram, in particular, is very effective because you can talk directly to customers through Instagram Stories. Many retailers also use Stories to showcase new products and offer customers behind-the-scenes footage.
Facebook is a great medium for highlighting events and new products at your store. Facebook Advertising can also be a very effective part of your retail strategy for bringing in new local customers.
“Using Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat to develop a retail strategy is essential. Use these platforms to refine messaging, pricing, and the best products. Use Twitter and Facebook to run ads testing 3-10 different taglines, marketing slogans, brand positioning, and even prices to your target audience. Identify which iteration gets the best click-through rate. Deploy ads to the same audiences featuring three different products. Test products and messaging combinations to define your top performers.”
—Robert Brill, CEO, Brill Media
Build Out Digital Sales Channels
In order to appeal to today’s consumers, having an ecommerce store is crucial. In the U.S., 76% of people shop online. If you don’t have an online store, you are missing out on many sales opportunities with consumers in your backyard and several states away.
Luckily, building an online store is easy with the right tools. Shopify is an affordable ecommerce platform with ready-to-go templates so you can have your store up and running in no time. Plus, Shopify makes it easy to track and fulfill orders, manage products, and sell on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. Visit Shopify for a free trial.
6. Create a Pricing Strategy
How you price a product is another important consideration for your retail strategy. If your prices are too high, you could be deterring customers and losing sales. If prices are too low, you can make a lot of sales, but won’t have any revenue.
Many retailers and ecommerce sellers use keystone pricing to price their products. Keystone pricing is a standard 100% markup, or double the wholesale cost. Selling a product for double the amount you paid is considered standard retail practice.
Consider Your Market Position
There are situations where retailers might want to deviate from keystone pricing. For example, if a product is selling exceptionally well, you may want to increase the price. If you have a lot of private label or custom products, you may also be able to charge higher prices for those. However, if competitors or online businesses sell similar products at a lower price point, you may want to consider lowering your prices.
“Go around and see what others are offering. This is a great way to set your prices. If you find you have something unique; you can increase the price. If it’s something common, you can either drop the price or find other alternatives that are unique to your store. For custom jobs, we essentially look at the time that is required to finish the project to gauge a price. Your potential customers can be a great resource as well. You will usually be able to find ways to adjust your prices based on the conversations you have with them.”
—Samuel Tang, Designer and Gemologist, Joy Creations
Use Promotional Pricing
Many businesses use promotional or sale prices to help drive customer traffic and sales. Discount prices can leave small businesses with very small profit margins but can be great tools for attracting customers or clearing out merchandise. Seasonal sales and coupons are popular promotional pricing strategies for retailers.
7. Stay Connected With Customers
Once you make your first sale with a customer, that is just the beginning of a long, profitable relationship. When developing your retail strategy, it is important to consider how you will stay connected with customers after the sale.
Send Regular Email Campaigns
The easiest and most obvious way of staying connected is through email. Collect customer contact information at the point of sale using a POS system like Vend. Vend integrates with Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and other popular email marketing tools that make it easy to send regular emails to your full or segmented customer list.
When sending emails to your customers, don’t be shy. In fact, it’s likely your loyal and top-spending customers want to hear from you more often. Of customers surveyed, 49% want weekly emails from their favorite brands.
Use Two-way Communications
When crafting your retail marketing strategy, make sure all of your messaging isn’t one-sided. It is important to make sure customers have a voice and that they feel heard. Two-way communication can be as easy as quickly responding to Instagram and Facebook messages. However, it might be better to take a proactive approach and ask for customer feedback after each purchase.
Send Customer Surveys
Customer surveys are an important part of your retail strategy because your customers can provide objective feedback on ways you can improve. Customer satisfaction surveys can be simple, with one or two questions and open-ended space to leave longer comments. Some retailers also use customer surveys to measure interest in new product lines, events, or additional shopping hours. Using customer feedback helps take out some of the guesswork when trying to improve your business, and makes customers feel like their opinion is valued.
Plan Regular Events
Retail events are effective because they give your customers an excuse to shop, while also making them feel valued with some kind of extra like a goody bag, early access to new products, or a special discount. Events help drive traffic to your store and provide a reason to send out lots of marketing and promotional material.
“One new thing we’ve tried and found successful is to utilize Instagram Stories to show the behind-the-scenes of our new space and tease some sneak peek footage of new products. It was surprising to see how valuable Stories have become for the brick-and-mortar component of the business and we want to home in on the tool this year, especially with the holidays coming up.”
—Nicole Genz, owner, Rescued Furnishings
8. Expand Through Partnerships
Local businesses thrive when they work together. When developing your retail marketing strategy, consider what other businesses are nearby and how you could work together. This could be as simple as exchanging business cards with other local stores and cafes. Or, you could co-host events and do joint community outreach.
For example, in Stratford, Connecticut, the founder of Mellow Monkey Decor brought together other local businesses to form the Stratford Lower Loop, a marketing tool that creates a destination out of the local shops in the area.
Build Out Additional Sales Channels
Retailers can also use local businesses to build out additional sales channels. Work with other businesses so that when they host events, you can be a vendor within their store, selling your products. Get involved with your local Chamber of Commerce and other town organizations to learn of vendor and sales opportunities at community events. Having a presence within your community outside of your store will help spread awareness about your business and boost name recognition.
Wholesale Products to Other Retailers
If you create custom or private label products, consider selling those products to other local businesses. This is particularly effective if you are in a tourist destination or college town and your products are reflective of your area.
For example, The Two Oh Three is a Connecticut lifestyle brand that sells apparel and accessories with various local logos. It sells its products online and at events, but it also sells its products to other local boutiques to resell.
Developing a retail marketing strategy requires thinking about what kind of products you will sell, how you will sell them, and how you will keep customers engaged after the sale. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy, and your particular retail marketing strategy will need to evolve and change as your business continues to grow.
Having a retail POS system ensures that you can accurately track inventory to keep products in-stock and collect customer data so you can stay in touch with your shoppers. Plus, a POS system like Vend provides insights into your bestselling and most profitable products, employee performance, and customer retention. Visit Vend for a free trial.