Retail Marketing: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Retail marketing in today's competitive landscape looks very different than in the past. Learn the successful retail marketing strategies used by top brands that drive sales today.

What is retail marketing?

Retail marketing is one of the most important tool's in your brand's arsenal for success. Retail marketing refers to the strategies and techniques that stores use to promote their products and services to potential customers. These strategies often involve a range of activities aimed at generating interest in the store's offerings, driving foot traffic to the store, and ultimately increasing sales.

With consumer behavior constantly evolving, can retailers keep up and adapt their marketing tactics to stay ahead? Retail marketing strategies usually include:

  • The design of retail stores or websites
  • Advertising campaigns on different media platforms
  • Messaging through email marketing or social media
  • Packaging and pricing marketing strategies
  • Customer outreach through clienteling platforms
  • Loyalty programs and discounts

The goal of these strategies is to create a positive and memorable shopping experience for customers, and to differentiate the store from its competitors.

The Challenges of Retail Marketing

Retail marketing can be challenging because it requires brands to build strong relationships with customers that motivate them to choose your store and products over others. But here's the catch: According to one Harvard professor, "95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious". This means it is critical to understand your customers emotional journey. You can start by understanding not only the relationship they have to your product, but to their overall shopping experience.

This is why successful retail marketing requires careful consideration of all the touch-points in a customer's interaction with your products or services. By doing so, you can increase your average order value (AOV) exponentially, building a loyal customer base who will always be there for the latest launch, and are excited to tell friends and family about what you offer.

Now let’s talk about how.

Modern Retail Marketing

Today, customers are more connected to brands than ever before and are often looking for tailored experiences rather than a faceless transaction. Premium e-tailers such as Moda Operandi and Net-a-Porter are great examples of how retail marketing is no longer just to drive foot traffic, but now about building customer loyalty through remote outreach.

This is where retail marketing plays a critical role in not only increasing AOV, but also building the foundation of a customer's lifetime value (CLV). 

Given these changes, savvy brands are reaching customers in new and improved ways, that go hand-in-hand. For example some retailers offer high touch personalized shopping experiences, which are established through clienteling opportunities. This means retail teams reach out to local customers directly about new product launches, in-store promotions, and invite-only events. The purpose of these communications is not to be salesy, but rather to check in and make sure customers are updated on the products and services they care about.

These efforts not only drive traffic and sales, but also develop brand recognition and increase customer loyalty. 

More ways to personalize the customer shopping experience

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Steps to Retail Marketing Success (including strategies and examples!)

While retail brands vary in size and shape, the fundamentals of the customer journey remain the same. Understanding the stages of the customer journey, identifying weaknesses, and strategically addressing them can increase marketing impact and lead to more sales.

Here are the stages of the customer journey:

  1. Discovery: Potential customers become aware of your brand through ads, website, or word-of-mouth. The latter continues to be one of the strongest discovery avenues. However, consider your current opportunities. A good example is how DTC beauty brand and Endear customer, Glossier, found success by maintaining an active online community of readers of their unique content. Keep in mind, these readers and followers aren’t customers yet, but their Into the Gloss blog (which preceded the brand itself) acts as the initial discovery point for their many motivated leads.
  2. Decision Making: Customers evaluate options and compare products before making a purchase. This is where great customer service is critical (as well as good ratings and reviews online!).
  3. Purchase: Customers complete the transaction online or in-store. What's important to note is that the less friction customers feel at this stage, the more conversions you will have. This is also the perfect opportunity to establish a clienteling relationship with customers, segmenting high-value customers to incentivize greater loyalty. 
  4. Post-Purchase: A whopping 83% of shoppers expect regular communication about their purchases. That means the Post-Purchase phase is not the time to stop the dialog, but rather to use it as a point of engagement. Customers may have questions, leave reviews, or contact customer service. With clienteling, they can also get in touch for outfit advice and recommendations. These are the kinds of communications that build trust and loyalty over time.
  5. Retention: Strategies to retain customers include personalized discounts, follow-up emails, and excellent customer service. This is where your retail teams can go on the offense and get customers excited about your brand, even when they’re not in-store.
  6. Cycling brand Rapha very much understands customer engagement and retention, taking the philosophy to the next level by turning their retail stores into multi-purpose clubhouses and community centers for their cyclist customers in order to create a welcoming in-person customer experience. This is all a part of their retention strategy, to make their store locations more than just transactional places, but hubs where like-minded customers can socialize.
  7. Evangelizing: Satisfied customers recommend your brand to others through word-of-mouth, reviews, or referral programs. For example, Koio, a sneaker brand, leveraged a major aspect of clientelingpersonalized bulk messaging – to get the word out about a new shoe to their highly-engaged sneakerheads.
  8. Koio’s scaled their clienteling messages for an event that accounted for over 10% of in-store sales over a single weekend. The campaign was successful in mobilizing the community to come together. Many brought friends who were new to the Koio brand, turning this segmented group into de facto brand ambassadors.
  9. With word-of-mouth still the best form of recommendation, you can see how the extra care in the steps above is necessary to secure such an endorsement.

Boost Your Retail Success: Our 8-Step Guide to Stronger Customer Relationships

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Retail Marketing in the Age of Personalization

Endear clients who use our platform to personalize messages see on average a 26X higher conversion rate than regular, generic email marketing. Additionally, other industry research shows a 20% increase in sales from personalized messaging.

A great example of this type of personalization in action is our Shoppable Stories.

Click through to see what a customer sees when they receive a Shoppable Story of products they'll love.

Shoppable Stories are visually striking, curated digital catalogs of products that the target customer actually wants to see. These can be delivered either by email or SMS, and help simplify the decision making process (ie. removing the Paradox of Choice) by only showing a few products at a time; products that are tailored to their shopping history stored in your CRM.

Modern retailers are wholeheartedly embracing personalization in this way, relying heavily on CRM data to enact this strategy.


Modern retail marketing takes a much more personal touch than the generic email blasts of yesteryear. To truly engage with your customer throughout their entire journey, you need to build a relationship and cater to them at each phase. It starts with great CRM data, and requires the right tools for communication, segmentation, and personalization.

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