I have to admit; I may be contributing to the rise in retail store closures. With two small kids, it’s just easier to shop online, even if I prefer to get out and see and touch items before buying. So, when I did get the chance to visit my local mall a couple weeks ago, I was at first shocked to find the spaces of two long-time retailers bare. Then, I began to think about my last experiences in these stores. They were less than satisfactory. In fact, they were the kind that made you not want to return. Maybe I’m not the problem.
It goes without saying that customer experience is paramount to win business. Yet, welcoming shoppers with a smile, although still important, is not enough anymore. Retailers must create environments that engage the senses and offer value above and beyond quality items and discounts. And it’s clear that, in some cases, this is necessary not only for success, but for survival. That means retail marketing ideas must elevate brands above their competitors and keep stores open against increasingly challenging odds.
At a Glance: The Current State of Retail
Kiplinger stands by its prediction of a 3.8% rise in retail sales for 2017. Yet, e-commerce will continue to “gobble up” these gains. The digital will reap 14% growth, while in-store sales will see another year of a 1.5% increase. This latter figure, though low, may come as a surprise amid steady reports of store closures.
Among the casualties is former electronics giant, RadioShack, which has just closed over 1,000 stores. A visit to competitor HHGregg’s website reveals the company is “no longer in business” after shutting down its 220 locations. And, the discount shoe retailer Payless ShoeSource is bankrupt, and will shudder around 800 stores itself. But, the same fate will not doom all brands.
Kiplinger also named “6 Retailers That Can Stand Up to Amazon.” And, when you examine each of their strengths, one word comes to mind: brand experience. “Some have carved niches by selling goods that people prefer to buy in person. Others provide services or shopping experiences that can’t be replicated online.” So, no matter if it’s the thrill of the find in TJ Maxx, a food sample in Costco, or an interactive experience in Best Buy, these retailers have found their sweet spot. The brand experiences they provide have consumers coming back for more.
At the same time, online retailers are not ignoring the demand for an experience. It’s why Amazon must step out from the other side of the screen and be more face-to-face. It’s why, as NBC News reports, the Amazon is “expanding its own real-world experiments,” despite a 32% increase in its stock. These include “bodegas, drone delivery, and airship warehouses.” The bottom line is, all retailers must always be looking at retail marketing ideas to deliver what consumer’s want. Doing so allows them to stay relevant – and open.
3 Retail Marketing Ideas to Help Retailers Stay Open
As we watch brick and mortar stores move to online only or go away altogether, competition will heat up. Here are three retail marketing ideas to help any company deliver an experience that keeps the lights on and rises above the rest.
1. Be temporarily present with a pop-up shop.
This idea is a must for all online-only retailers, or those who have decreased their brick-and-mortar presence. With a pop-up, brands target locations with a high-saturation of customers while avoiding the on-going expenses of a permanent store. And, the brand experience of a pop-up shop helps you stay top of mind with the personal touch you’ll be able to provide. Plus, the temporary aspect will create Fear of Missing Out – or FOMO – to help drive traffic.
You can lessen your operational burden and keep your normal retail business as usual when you enlist expert help. Consider including a company to manage logistics and an event staffing provider to man the space, make sales and build relationships. In doing so, these partners can manage the pop-up shop from start to finish, and use their knowledge to maximize your success. While they do the hands-on work, you can use the time and opportunity to drive your brand story and create the edge you need.
2. Give them the experience they need.
It’s no secret that today’s consumers tend toward buying an experience over merchandise. So, why not give them both and drive them in-store? For example, handing out samples can have a huge impact on revenue. In fact, Costco has seen over a 500% increase in lipstick and mascara sales due to such a simple effort.
Electronics and technology retailers should give demonstrations and let consumers get hands-on with products. It can go a long way, as evidenced by Best Buy. The company offers “immersive brand experiences” in select stores, enabling consumers to try before they buy.
No matter what you offer, specialized brand ambassadors in store for scheduled engagements can attract qualified shoppers and drive sales of certain products. (Bonus tip: It’s also a great way to add value to a pop-up shop!)[Tweet “People would rather buy an experience vs merchandise. Retailers: offer both.”]
3. Maximize traffic.
If you’re going to take the initiative to open a pop-up shop or activate an experiential marketing event, why not go all out? Maximizing your efforts will ensure the best use of your time, budget and other valuable resources.
You already know scheduled events can help drive traffic when consumers know about them. But, how do make your audience aware? Social media ads and email blasts can inform current consumers. But, you can broaden your audience with two other initiatives.
The first is influencer marketing, which brands and retailers like bareMinerals use to get in front of targeted shoppers. Their newest influencer and brand ambassador, Ingrid Nilsen, is exposing them to her four million YouTube™ subscribers, who are likely to join her in-store when she makes an appearance. The right influencer can do the same for you.
The other is street team marketing, and it’s ideal for reaching consumers in nearby proximity of your store or pop-up shop. Simply hire professional event staff, who can take to the streets and hand out fliers or coupons while engaging consumers. This is a great way to stand out against a barrage of digital ads, which most consumers automatically “skip.” The initiative has proven time and again to get people in store, helping you stay open in today’s uncertain retail times.
One of the retail marketing ideas above has caught fire in the experiential industry over the past few years. Street team marketing is an effective, and affordable, way to get your brand noticed by consumers. Download our Complete Guide to Street Team Success for free below.