We’re not even halfway through 2020 and it’s already been a whirlwind year for retailers.
Around the world, businesses are closing, brands are shuttering, and customer expectations are shifting.
In this article, I’m giving you the 4-1-1 on 4 major retail marketing strategies you need right now.
What We’ll Cover:
- What is Retail Marketing?
- Become a Distributed Commerce Brand
- Set Up a Delivery System
- Create Local and National Advertising Strategies
- Run Consistent Promotions
- Double Down on Social Media
While many retailers are struggling to weather the storm of COVID-19, the good news is that there are others who are thriving, which means you can thrive too.
If you’re a brick-and-mortar with an offline location (or multiple offline locations), there are some steps you can take to keep your business moving forward.
Today, we’re going to cover the top four marketing strategies retailers need to adopt during these uncertain times.
What is Retail Marketing?
Retail marketing refers to the range of activities retailers undertake in order to generate interest, promote, and sell their products to customers. It may seem broad, but retail marketing encompasses a larger category than most people realize.
It spans traditional marketing (television commercials, billboards, direct mailers), as well as digital marketing (Facebook ads, Instagram stories, email campaigns).
In the simplest terms, everything from the interior and exterior of the retail store, to product placements and special offers and promotions, falls under the umbrella of retail marketing.
Here are a few stats that illustrate the current trends taking place in retail marketing:
- 13% of retailers refer to themselves as “digital-first.” The majority are still primarily dominated by brick and mortar operations and traditional marketing campaigns.
- 77% of shoppers use a mobile device to find products online. Most of these searches take place on mobile devices since retail shoppers regularly compare competitor products and pricing in-store.
- 73% of retail consumers shop using multiple channels at the same time. To gain a more cohesive consumer view, marketers must connect all of their channels.
- 40% of consumers buy more often from retailers that provide a personalized shopping experience across marketing platforms. Enhancing the shopper experience has a direct impact on a company’s bottom line.
- 84% of customers believe retailers could be making more of a concerted effort to integrate their online and offline channels. To address this concern, retail marketers need to be visible across all touchpoints.
Become a Distributed Commerce Brand
These days, no business can operate without a functioning website. However, retailers need more than just a website to succeed long-term.
Don’t get us wrong—this will take a lot of work on your part. But, trust us, it’s necessary. Why?
Users on platforms are often unwilling to leave what they were doing just to make a purchase. So how can companies tap into the feeds of millions and get them to complete their customer journey?
This is where distributed commerce comes in. The driving force behind this concept is that consumers should be able to buy something directly from the content they are experiencing without needing to navigate to another page, window, or tab.
We recommend you set up an online store and integrate with the various online destinations that you can sell online, including Amazon, Walmart, Target, Ecwid, and Google Shopping.
Making your product available across the web is a win-win for consumers and businesses alike since keeping someone’s attention for long periods of time is tricky.
A great place to start this process is through Shopify. This e-commerce platform even has a new point of sale system that allows you to perform a transaction right there and then, which is fed directly into your inventory management system.
Set Up a Delivery System
Think of your retail location as your showroom. People are going to stop by from time to time, which means it should be clean, presentable, and representative of your brand. But looking ahead, you really need to think about how to replicate that experience online when a customer finally places an order.
Once payment is captured, you have to then fulfill your shipping and delivery end of the bargain. Keep in mind that the entire post-purchase experience, including your delivery method, is an extension of your brand.
This is why it’s important to implement a shipping system that will help your business meet your consumers’ shipping and delivery needs, without hurting your profit margins.
Before we delve into some of the more popular software options, consider these data points:
- 60% of consumers would rather shop on sites that offer a free shipping option.
- More than half of consumers surveyed will cancel an order if the shipping costs are too expensive.
- Three out of every four consumers won’t pay more than $10 for shipping.
Now that you have a sense of what the shipping expectation landscape looks like, here are some of the most popular shipping platforms on the market:
- CourierGateway: Cloud-based system that allows customers to work with multiple couriers, all within one account.
- ShipStation: Through ShipStation, merchants are eligible to receive discounts with several carriers such as UPS, USPS, FedEx, DHL, and more.
- Fulfillment by Amazon: Service provided by Amazon that provides packaging and shipping support to sellers, granting them more flexibility in their selling practices.
Create Local and National Advertising Strategies
How are you exposing customers to your business? On a local level? National level? To reach as many potential customers as possible, retailers need to connect their national advertising strategies with local marketing tactics.
For many retailers, local marketing is the ultimate lead generation strategy.
The general idea of local marketing is simple—increase brand awareness offerings in the exact geographic areas you’re serving, and business will follow.
By focusing more intently on your local area, you want to redirect your remarketing efforts to those who have already visited your website, social media channels, or purchased from you before.
You can set up audiences online so that you can advertise to the same people who have previously interacted with you. In fact, retargeting has the ability to increase conversion rates by nearly 150%.
Let’s say the central point of your radius targeting is 20 miles. You can set up YouTube, Facebook, Display, Google, Bing, TikTok, and Snapchat ads, and add demographic restrictions to your audience for further refinement.
From there, anyone who has already interacted with you is going to come across your remarketing ad through all these different channels.
Hyperlocal targeting or audience-specific targeting is popular due to its low risk, low cost nature. Plus, there’s a greater possibility of converting.
By running ads that are distributed across the entire world, you won’t get many conversions.
Even if you narrow it down to the national level, it’s still tricky. The key is to focus on state-level marketing.
Take the current public health crisis, for example. As a retail marketer, you’ll want to find out what’s going on in the state you’re looking to target. Are they open or closed? What types of restrictions do they have? Is travelling to and from this state allowed?
On the national and state levels, however, you do want to set up shopping ads, where shoppers can make a transaction and complete it directly from platforms like Facebook, Google, Bing, and Amazon.
Run Consistent Promotions
It’s no secret that consumers love coupons. Who doesn’t love taking advantage of special offers and scoring major savings?
But when it comes to customer relationships, consistency is key.
A winning retail marketing strategy means that you need to run promotions on a weekly, bi-weekly, and/or monthly basis.
The more promotions you can create, the more ads you can refresh. Not only do the platforms themselves prefer to receive new ads regularly to see how they perform, but your customers will be excited to check out your latest offerings.
BONUS TIP: Double Down on Social Media
Social media is more popular now than it’s ever been before.
Since the shelter-in-place orders took effect this spring, social media has become an even more important tool for connection.
While outgoing engagement has fallen, incoming engagements have increased on average by 44 engagements per day across all social networks since Q1 2020.
With that being said, you need to have an interactive content social media strategy in place.
When your objective is increased visibility, native ads and social ads are just as important as organic social content.
So, take the time to get inventive and create custom graphics to expand your reach.
There you have it!
While we don’t have a crystal ball to show us how the retail industry will be fully impacted in the near future, there are many strategies retailers can employ now to successfully streamline the customer experience and improve retention long after the dust settles.
For one, it’s crucial that retailers become savvy with local marketing, e-commerce, distributed commerce, and online advertising. This is what’s going to allow them to scale long-term.
And if you can set up a good cost-per-acquisition model for each different network discussed above and produce ad creative that receives high click-through rates and conversion rates, we have no doubts that you’ll achieve a ton of success online!