Among the many challenges facing small business owners, rolling out effective marketing strategies represents an important, if not somewhat elusive concern. While it’s essential for retailers to get the word out about products and promotions, it’s easy to throw away money on ineffectual advertising and marketing campaigns. Adding to the challenge, retailers striving to make cost-efficient marketing decisions must now account for wide-ranging platforms, from traditional print advertising to social media promotion.
If your retail marketing efforts are not bringing home the desired returns or you feel your business would benefit from an offline boost, it may be time to revisit some of the fundamental principles of retail success. And before sinking all your resources in to a new wave of marketing opportunities, getting back to brick-and-mortar basics provides a sturdy launch pad for progressive promotions.
Products and Packaging
Square one for retailers is assembling products for market. If you don’t believe in the goods you sell, marketing them with passion and enthusiasm is an uphill battle. That’s not to say you should only select products you’d buy yourself. On the contrary, your retail line should include a liberal share of items aimed at tastes and preferences unlike your own. You should, however, be committed to the quality, utility, aesthetics, and other value-added features of the things you sell.
Settling on a product line doesn’t exclude future expansion. In fact, a cohesive group of goods inspires growth, as accessories and related products naturally integrate in to your wares. Consistent packaging reinforces each item’s place in the mix.
Whenever possible, presenting your branded goods in recognizable packaging strikes a consistent chord with shoppers, enhancing brand awareness and leading to repeat sales. If you’re reselling pre-packaged goods, without primary packaging input, you can create the same effect with secondary packaging – bags, boxes, and labels, conveying your branding messages.
According to an Inc. article, the following strategies can help you squeeze the greatest possible marketing impact from your packaging choices:
- Know your demographic
- Scale-up and personalize inexpensive packaging
- Make your packaging part of the product experience
- Follow the trend toward eco-friendly packaging
Understanding your demographic and putting your efforts behind the right products is essential to your success, but you also need to make it as easy as possible for shoppers to get their hands on your retail line. For some sellers, that means positioning products in multiple retail locations, as well as marketing goods online. For others, prime placement might include a farmer’s market or third-party selling site. And since marketing and merchandising go hand-in-hand, your in-store display strategies are as important as the marketing moves you make, beyond your front door.
A look at conclusions drawn from a recent survey from analyst Blis underscores the importance of brick-and-mortar stores on an increasingly remote retail landscape. Somewhat surprisingly, the report pointed to the value of physical locations as marketing tools, particularly for exposing consumers to new products. According to survey responses from 2,000 study participants, in-store browsing ranked number one for learning about new products, beating out targeted ads and TV, which were numbers two and three, respectively.
Equally as important as the number of customers browsing your store, survey respondents also validated a known trend among retail shoppers. Based on participants’ answers, it is thought buyers spend between 20 and 50 percent more money when making purchases in-person, than they do when shopping online. If there was any doubt about protecting and promoting in-store sales, this distinction cements the value of offline shoppers, within your marketing plan.
Most people have made online purchases, so e-commerce is no longer a mysterious alternative to shopping offline. For shoppers aggressively embracing remote buying opportunities, one of the prime drivers is convenience. They are shopping online, because it only takes a few clicks to source goods, and then they can move on, tackling other tasks and staying on pace with ever-demanding lifestyles. One of the major downsides of online shopping has also been removed.
Streamlined distribution networks have largely eliminated the waiting period between placing an order and retrieving a package from the doorstep. The convenience of e-commerce is no longer tainted by a lack of immediacy – Amazon can have it there tomorrow or even today, in many cases. Bringing motivated shoppers into their stores has always been the hard part for retailers, but today’s sellers must also compete with convenience.
If you expect to increase traffic and in-store sales, you have to give your customer a reason to trade precious time for a trip to your retail location. The opportunity to try on clothes, handle items, and evaluate quality up-close is still a draw, bringing-in bodies, but liberal return policies now offered by many online sellers have diminished this benefit. Online buyers simply order multiple items and sizes, returning what doesn’t work out, without paying for return shipping. Value-added strategies for retailers focused on in-store sales, include:
- Leverage Your Knowledge – Online platforms have become more user-friendly than they once were, but it isn’t always easy for consumers to get the answers they need. The knowledgeable, skilled sales associates you employ are an asset you can’t afford to waste.
- Conduct Classes – Classes, product demonstrations, and other on-point learning opportunities add value to the in-store experience, without a major marketing investment. Well-conceived demos and instruction help prove the value of products, making it easier for your customers to clear purchasing hurdles.
- Bring in Guests and Experts – Authors, products developer, and charismatic personalities known in your niche not only attract store visits, but aligning with experts also associates your brand with credible people.
Marketing isn’t an exact science – particularly for modern retailers, competing in an ever-crowded selling space. Though it can be hard to weigh the precise impacts of each marketing effort, effective promotion remains an important concern for brick-and-mortar sellers. Working with limited financial resources, the most successful small businesses are finding creative ways to lure visitors and close in-person sales. Outstanding customer service, prime product placement, expert insight, and consistent brand messaging are only a few of the marketing tools at work in modern retail settings.
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