15 Creative Retail Marketing Strategies for 2023
Whether you've got decades of experience in entrepreneurship, or you just started, there's a simple truth that needs to be acknowledged (the faster, the better): running a business in retail hardly ever gets easier. You may encounter some typical problems, like growing competition or ever-changing trends. But there are also impossible to predict catastrophes, like natural disasters (not to mention an ongoing global pandemic). As a retailer, you'll always have something challenging to deal with.
But let's not get all gloomy here. Instead, think that each challenge – even the toughest one – brings opportunities. The retailers' job is not to overlook these moments. Even more – they need to use them to their businesses' advantage.
But before you can do that, you have to prepare yourself. So if you're about to start 2023 with a new and improved approach to your retail marketing strategy, you may as well start by reading this article.
In the next ~20 minutes, you'll get to know a lot more about:
- Retail marketing in general.
- The principles of retail marketing.
- Retail marketing strategy examples.
Better not to waste any more time. Hop on the bandwagon of doing your retail marketing better this year, and don't get left behind!
What is retail marketing?
The whole point of retail marketing can be summarized in two short sentences:
Retail marketing consists of all the means retail businesses use to promote their products and/or services. These efforts are directed towards the target audience, and their purpose is to generate sales.
We need to focus on keywords like retail, target audience, or a marketing purpose to properly understand these points.
Retail means selling
No matter what you're selling or which platform you use to do so, it's called retail as long as it's not on a wholesale basis. Super popular e-commerce stores are a part of retail, and so are small, brick and mortar shops in the suburbs. Both of them promote their goods – in various ways, and with different marketing needs, but still.
Target audience is the key
Each promotion method you decide to use has to be customer-oriented, so you need to plan and implement it with your target audience in mind. Of course, the target audience describes itself in some businesses, but most retailers aren't that lucky.
To determine what type of customer is within your target, you need to ask your existing clients about their preferences as well as demographics (age, place of residence, job, and so on). You may also want to spend some time analyzing your competition. Also, based on your experience, you may exclude people who are definitely not a part of your target audience. Though it might seem a bit ridiculous, you can seriously improve your marketing effectiveness if you realize that people aged 75+ probably won't buy your windsurfing equipment.
And last but not least – try creating personas. They can be beneficial assets to your future marketing efforts.
Each promotion has its purpose
Retail marketing aims to generate sales, but it's certainly not the whole truth. Sometimes businesses aim to raise awareness, nurture relationships with customers or tell their brand story (and for dozens of other reasons). In all those cases, sales are present somewhere in the background – they might become indirect consequences of those marketing efforts. Such an approach is mandatory if you want your brand to truly grow, not just in the means of closed sales but also as a valuable, well-known business entity.
Building an outstanding marketing strategy for retail requires planning ahead and knowing its principles. So let's dig into that!
The four principles of retail marketing
There are four critical aspects of retail marketing, called four "P's",, consisting of product, price, place, and promotion:
- Product – what do you sell? Choosing what you want to offer your customers is an integral part of the journey. Before opening a new place, it is crucial to research the products you wish to include in your offer. Find your target audience and ensure that your goods will get to them.
- Price – how much do you charge for it? Setting a price for your product can be challenging, but your competition might help. Analyze their prices and make sure you're not making your products too expensive… or suspiciously cheap. Take those things into account: your profits, competitors' highest price for the product, and the financial status of your target audience.
- Place – where do you sell it? A place refers to your store's physical location and digital platforms on which your brand tries to sell. Choose a location your target audience will visit eagerly for your bakery, café, or grocery store. In a digital world, note that if your competitors are on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok, and they get some attention and brand recognition there, it might be wise to at least try and join them there to even the scales a bit.
- Promotion – how do you let people know about it? The fourth "P" in the set is about communicating with people about your products. Gathering enough information about your potential customers is crucial for promotion, so don't skip that part. Ask yourself a few questions: what platforms do your potential customers use regularly? Is your product seasonal? What is the best time to promote it? How do your competitors promote their offer?
15 Retail Marketing Strategy Examples
Before you dive into the world of retail marketing tactics, you should know that some of the following ideas would fit just online retailers, while the others would work perfectly for brick-and-mortar stores. I'll describe each of the examples in alphabetical order.
Lower prices always work, so if you're interested in running an online store, you have to make sure that your shopping platform allows you to create cart promotions. Cart discounts are visible while shopping, making them an exceptional incentive for buying more stuff in your store. It's the equivalent of discounted price tags in a grocery store. It's one of the oldest retail marketing tactics to show how much customers will save with the previous price crossed out, yet it still works!
Cart promotions work incredibly well during seasonal retail campaigns – you may discount any product or group of products for a specific time and thus encourage people to visit your store. By using an attractive incentive, you're on the right track to putting customers in a good mood while shopping. Who knows, maybe they'll buy something else along the way? Among many other marketing strategies for retail, cart promotions are probably the easiest to implement, which may be just the thing you're looking for while trying to acquire more customers and increase sales. After all, low difficulty equals lower development costs.
In Voucherify, you can easily create various types of cart promotions, such as dollar value (based on money spent), product-quantity (for buy one, get one kind of promotion), or product-specific promotions. There are tons of possibilities and personalization options, so I'd recommend reading Mike's article about cart promotions if you're interested.
Though they won't get you any direct sales, contests are a great way to build hype. A chance to get something for free is a sufficient incentive for many. Also, an innovative giveaway promotion that fits the context works like a dream for associating positive emotions with your brand.
The easiest way to conduct a contest online is to run it via social media platforms – e.g., Facebook and Instagram. Note, though, that they have a strict policy regarding running competitions. Though many retailers seem not to give a heck about it, it will be wise to review the rules to avoid having your profile blocked.
Another way of making your offer more attractive is by giving away some discount coupons. The most popular and one of the most effective ways of using discount coupons is giving a slight discount to all people who subscribe to your newsletter. Such a move grants you access to hundreds or thousands of email addresses, which means that you can easily communicate with hundreds or thousands of people from now on.
Discount coupons help deliver effective retail promotions. The discount itself is a powerful incentive, but making it limited (with a certain amount of coupons or available only for returning customers) empowers it even further.
Creating discount coupons can be tricky without a proper tool, especially if you need lots of them. If you want to know how to build them fast and easy, check out our ebook, in which we explained the whole process in an approachable and easy-to-follow way.
People who work in your store are your most valuable resource and maybe your best marketers. So providing them with proper equipment and training will probably bear fruit in a long shot.
Motivating your employees can also be an effective way to build a more robust and friendlier brand. Better wages, holidays packages, benefits – all those things won't have a direct impact on your store's financial results, but they can help make your employees happy to work with you, and that's – cliché incoming – priceless.
A happy employee works more efficiently and helps create a better image of your brand – such a thing won't get unnoticed by customers.
Freebies and giveaways
Free shopping guides, holiday inspirations posts, BOGO (buy one, get one) promotions – all these things have proven to be effective in retail. Giving something away is rarely a loss for the business. What is more, you don't have to give away flagship products to get desired attention for your brand. Of course, the more valuable the reward, the better, but you can share resources prepared for your customers for starters, such as the guides mentioned above, branded gadgets, or holiday cards. Getting something extra in the package should bring a smile to many customers' faces for a bit of price.
If you offer services rather than physical products, your freebie can be offering an additional service, which is usually available at a higher price, for free.
Geofencing is a GPS-based technology that allows retailers to communicate with customers physically near your place. How does it work? You can set up a virtual fence that circles your store within a given radius (e.g., 500 meters). Of course, you can't notify anyone who's passing nearby, but if your customers or leads have let you track their location, you can get in touch with them whenever they get close.
Imagine running a small, cozy bookshop and having an opportunity to send a personalized invitation to people nearby. Geofencing is also useful for counter-advertising: set a fence close to your competitors' place and offer their potential customers a discount at your bookshop. It's a bold move but effective.
If you want to know more about geofencing, read Kate's article on our blog.
In the quest of making their offer diversified and suitable for their target audience, retailers find new ways of broadening their portfolio of products. One of the most incredible ideas that fit almost every business out there is gift cards.
Storeowners offer various gift cards – digital, physical, in the form of a simple gift code redeemable at a checkout or a well-designed, premium-packaged card in a branded envelope. Regardless of the form, gift cards offer remarkable flexibility – as a retailer, you can put a specified amount of money on the card, as well as make it redeemable to a specific date.
Using proper retail promotion management software – like Voucherify – you can create thousands of unique gift cards, manage and distribute them among your customers so they can buy from you in an even more accessible and flexible way.
Lights, music, action!
There are a few things brick-and-mortar shops have that you can't transfer to an online store. One of those things is the atmosphere. However, you can create it in your local store using proper lighting and music (calm and soothing for the bookstore, but a more energetic one for a sports store). Playing music in stores isn't just a loose idea – it's been tested and proven many times, but – surprisingly – it went global just a few years ago. In 2017, Target decided to activate their customers' senses with music, and in 2022, it's hard to imagine any superstore without it.
On the other hand, we are all fed up with Christmas songs playing in the background since the middle of November, so be careful with the musical choices for your store.
Note: though technically, you can add playback music to your online store website, I guess people won't find it enticing, and it certainly won't positively affect the atmosphere – music slows the website down, lowers its credibility, and that's not the end of the cons list!
Keeping a customer is tough, but it's also rewarding and much, much cheaper than acquiring a new one. Creating a loyalty program is one of the most effective ways to bring people back to your store.
Studies show that loyalty programs members spend 12-18% more than those who don't participate in them. It's a chance no retailer would want to miss!
Though it's vital, many store owners drop the chance to create a loyalty program because it seems challenging and time-consuming. However, with a tool like Voucherify, building a loyalty program from scratch gets easy, despite hundreds of options available. Create a genuinely personalized loyalty program experience for your customers and make sure they'll think of your store every time they need to make a purchase.
Loyalty programs create a field for creative retail promotions. Encourage customers to perform actions in exchange for loyalty points. Then, let them spend their points on various rewards: one-time discounts, permanent discounts, free products, and so on.
If you're eager to see how Voucherify enables customers to create a successful loyalty program, click below and read our case study:
It's not easy to find an online retail store without a Facebook page, but there's more to your brand's online presence than just that. Not to mention that the mere existence of a fan page doesn't bring any results without working on it and being genuinely active.
Online presence consists of a few things. It would be best if you didn't pursue each of them, though – try to balance between being present in various online spaces and being active there. There's no point in creating dozens of profiles if you don't intend to run them actively. But it's not just about social media – online presence means your store's website as well as customer reviews, search ranks, listings, and so on.
Remember that even if you sell offline only, people do a lot of research online before purchasing. So allow them to find your store there – 46% of searches in Google are looking for local information!
What can you do to increase your online presence?
- Add your retail store to Google Maps (it's free and super-effective).
- Keep your website SEO- and mobile-friendly.
- Build social media presence on the most relevant platforms. Instagram and Facebook seem to be a safe choice, but if you're feeling adventurous, you may want to consider becoming a TikToker (seriously).
- Ask customers for reviews and respond to them (even if they're bad).
Of all the retail promotion strategies, word of mouth has worked like a charm for ages – actually, it was one of the first marketing constructs ever! A happy customer is likely to spread the word about your store, so treat them well… but why won't you offer something extra?
Incentivize your customers to bring their friends to your store – you can simply offer them a discount if they recommend shopping at your place to their friends. Still, to maintain control of the process and make sure it's profitable, you need a solution that will care for both your and your customers' needs in terms of a referral program. For example, software that makes it easy to run a program rewarding both a referee and a referrer.
This retail marketing idea is a part of the online presence of your business, but a big one. Given you're a professional, you may want to share your knowledge with customers and other visitors of your website, blog, or social media profiles. Though it requires time and effort, giving away a bit of what you know builds up your brand's image as a professional business and helps your search engine rankings.
Whether it's a blog, a YouTube channel, or helpful Facebook posts, sharing knowledge with your customers might be just what they need to engage. And even if they don't, they might learn something from you, which is also a way to increase your brand awareness and esteem.
Staying in touch with customers
Since everything you do in retail should be customer-oriented, staying in touch with customers seems like an obvious direction. Easier said than done, though. The first thing that comes to mind is sending emails – they can be highly efficient but need to be thought through. Sending a newsletter alone won't be enough in most cases. With your customers' inboxes flooded with mail every day, your message might get buried between others.
Spend some time working out the subject of the email – those few words will be responsible for a considerable part of your success (or failure). Also, consider using an email marketing tool (such as MailChimp or any other) that will help you segment your audience, schedule emails, and track their results.
Newsletters work for both types of stores – the only tricky thing about email marketing for local store customers is getting their email addresses.
Hint: emails are not the only way of getting in touch with customers. One of the most direct forms of communication is SMS messaging, so if you have an opportunity to collect customers' phone numbers, think about sending them a text message once in a while.
Newsletters don't have to be about discounts or special offers – let people know that you've got new goods in stock, inform them about contests you run, let them know about upcoming releases. Be careful, though, to avoid sending too many emails. If people decide that you write them too often, they might report you as a spammer.
Store space usage
Brick and mortar stores have the upper hand in this one – you can arrange the way your products are displayed physically. Ever wondered why superstores change their shelf arrangement every now and then? It's a trick to encourage customers to go "sightsee" the store, check every corner to find what they need… and buy something extra on the way.
Also, there are dozens of plans you can incorporate into your store. One of them is a straight floor plan, which means all the shelves in your store are arranged in straight lines, creating the feeling of a well-organized space. The other – loop plan – is made for guiding your customers around the store.
The customers will judge your store for its name, storefront, interior design, and employee approach. Some of those elements may even turn out to be more significant to customers' opinions than what you sell (or for how much).
What is more, people who don't know your store and walk by might be enticed by your storefront if it's clean, freshly painted and inviting (fresh flowers, a fun sandwich sign informing about today's promotions, and so on).
Having an online store does not mean that arranging a storefront shouldn't concern you. The main website of your store is your storefront, and it has to be equally inviting as its offline counterpart. Optimize it for mobile devices, ensure it loads fast and contains all the most critical information.
There are so many ways to market your retail store that it's next to impossible to follow each of them simultaneously. After reviewing 15 creative retail promotion ideas, choose two or three and see if they work for your business. Once you determine it, you can go with another one and thus expand your retail marketing step by step. And if you're not sure how to incorporate some of the ideas into reality, Voucherify is here to help. It's an API-first promotion management software that lets you explore whole new retail marketing levels and increase your business growth.
Boost your retail marketing with Voucherify