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Jul 15, 2022

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

Learn what retail marketing means in today’s modern retail industry and find out what marketing strategies the top brands are using to drive sales.

By Leigh Sevin, Co-Founder @ Endear

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What is Retail Marketing?

Retail marketing traditionally refers to how retailers promote their physical stores’ products and services. Historically, retailers have been responsible for marketing and selling the goods they have purchased (wholesale) from designers. 

Therefore, as a retailer, your entire focus is on motivating customers to come to your store and purchase in order to drive sales for yourself and also remain in favor of the designers you work with. 

Check out these advanced retail marketing strategies.

  1. Difference between clienteling and customer service
  2. Sales promotions examples in retail
  3. Customer relationship management examples
  4. What is modern retailing?

Retail Marketing vs. Marketing

Marketing is the key to moving a customer into the retail sales process. While the retail sales process deals with customers who are ready to buy, marketing is everything you do to entice your customer base and keep them engaged until they reach that stage.

Marketing tactics refer to all the ways in which a business communicates its value—from your business’s messaging through email marketing or on social media, to its packaging and pricing strategy, and even where and how products are sold (e.g. the design of a retail store or website).

Retail marketing is perhaps even more challenging than other types of marketing because it requires building a strong relationship with your customers that motivates them to pick your particular product over another—not just because the product itself is “better,” but because of all the other parts of the shopping experience that reinforce their choice.

That means retail marketing requires you to think carefully about all the touch-points surrounding your customer’s interaction with your products. 

Why is Retail Marketing Important?

Marketing is even more important in retail given how competitive some product categories are. Without a solid marketing strategy, you’re leaving it up to your customer to remember you on their own once they become interested in a product you sell.

Retail marketing is unique because retail products are often repeat purchases, so unlike with subscriptions or one-time purchases, retailers have to depend on marketing efforts in order to win back customers after each sale. With retail more than any industry, marketing plays a critical role in growing a customer’s lifetime value (LTV).

Modern Retail Marketing

The rise of e-commerce and many brands’ move toward a direct-to-consumer (DTC) model has vastly expanded and shifted the meaning of retail marketing. For example, the rise of premium e-tailers such as Moda Operandi and Net-a-Porter has also meant that retail marketing is no longer just about foot traffic but also about web traffic and online sales.

Similarly, DTC brands are not only in charge of designing and manufacturing their products; they are now also responsible for marketing and selling those items directly to their customers, often through their own online store and physical locations. In fact, the DTC model is famous for promoting lower prices thanks to their elimination of the “middle man” (the traditional retailer).

With these dramatic changes in the traditional retail model, retail marketing is even more critical than ever before. Brands count on marketing efforts not just for driving traffic and sales for products but also for developing brand recognition, customer loyalty, and perhaps, most importantly, increasing LTV. 

Retail Marketing Strategies & Examples

While retail brands come in many shapes and sizes, the fundamentals of the customer journey typically remain the same across businesses. Understanding the stages of this journey, noting which stages are your weakest, and tackling them strategically is a great way to increase marketing impact and ultimately lead to more sales overall.

The stages in the customer journey are:

  1. Discovery
  2. Decision Making
  3. Purchase
  4. Post-Purchase
  5. Retention
  6. Evangelizing

Let’s take a brief look into each stage and see what modern brands can do to move the needle across the entire journey.

Discovery

The start of the customer’s journey is when they first discover your brand. Think of it as the beginning of a long relationship that springs from a single touchpoint.

A good example is how DTC beauty brand Glossier has found success by maintaining an active online community of readers of their unique content. Keep in mind, these readers and followers aren’t truly customers yet, but their content marketing due to their Into the Gloss blog (which preceded the brand itself) acts as the initial discovery point for their many motivated leads.

This inbound marketing strategy is just one prong in a clever, expansive digital presence that includes an engaging Instagram feed, YouTube channel, and of course Tik Tok. From these channels, these content-consumers (aka leads) then reach the Glossier site where even more great content continues to engage them such as skincare quizzes and Spotify playlists.

Your brand should similarly take this omnichannel marketing approach where great content across various channels works in a unified fashion to get new customers to discover your brand.

Decision Making

As customers browse your site or your brick & mortar store, they will have a decision to make. Your job is to help them match with the ideal product for their wants and needs. In short, your brand will get the best results by personalizing the marketing, thus shortcutting their decision-making into becoming a purchase.

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.

Shoppable Stories are visually striking, curated digital catalogs of products that the target customer wants to see. These can be delivered either by email or SMS, and helps simplify that 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 whole-heartedly embracing personalization in this way, and your brand should rely heavily on your CRM data to enact this strategy.

Purchase

Arriving at the point-of-purchase isn’t the end of the customer journey, not by a longshot. Today, there are many ways to upsell, bundle, or show related items during the check-out process. It’s also a point where you can learn more about your customer, adding valuable data into your CRM that you can draw upon in the next stages of the journey.

Does your brand see a weakness in this phase? This most often shows up in your CRM as a low Average Order Value (AOV). Your customer is buying something, sure, but they’re not spending all that much. Your goal is to increase AOV, making the purchase phase even more impactful to your bottom line.

If the purchase is done in-store, upselling through personalized bundling is one of the most effective ways to increase AOV at or just before the moment of purchase. Again, your CRM data will show you a customer’s past shopping history at the point-of-purchase, leading to a personalized bundling offer like this:

“Hi Erica,

How are liking the cherry lipstick? Aren’t you due for a replacement by now? If you come into the store this week, I’ll give  you a 20% discount on any lipstick of your choice.”

You can see how effective this type of bundling can be, and it feels more like great customer service rather than just an upsell.

Post-Purchase

A whopping 83% of shoppers expect regular communication about their purchases. This includes shipping updates, delay notifications, and any additional information they should know about their new product. Yet many brands don’t bother following up after purchases at all. They simply fail to keep customers engaged.

Instead, your brand should follow the example of Patagonia. In 2015, they launched The Worn Wear Mobile Tour that offered not only to repair customers’ gear on the spot but also to teach them how to make these repairs on their own in the future.

The tour accentuated the brand’s focus on sustainability and gave them an opportunity to interact with customers face-to-face outside of a sales scenario. One of the goals of marketing in retail is to extend the lifetime value of a customer, so finding relevant, brand-related ways to be a resource to customers is certainly going to encourage customers to stay loyal to you.

That means the Post-Purchase phase is not the time to stop the dialog, but rather to use it as a point of engagement:

  • “Thank you again for being such a great client! Don’t hesitate to text me if you have any questions in the next few days.”
  • “How are you liking your new item so far?”
  • “Would you mind reviewing your product on our website? It would mean a lot if you could share your opinion with our community.”

Continue to communicate and keep your customers engaged.

Speaking of engagement…

Retention

Cycling brand Rapha very much understands customer engagement and has taken that philosophy to the next level, 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.

Rapha locations offer a ton of other activities and reasons to visit, such as a coffee shop for the passersby, and space to actually test their equipment in a simulator. Clubhouses also function as a homebase for setting off on a group bike ride and as venues for various panels and community events.

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. So even if they are not interested in buying anything, they will have a reason to keep coming back until they do.

While your stores may not be conducive to this type of retention strategy, work to find the right ones for you. Loyalty programs, eventized nights such as makeup tutorials or meetups, and refer-a-friend promotions are all ideas your brand can try out to increase retention.

Evangelizing

Your best customer isn’t the person who buys a lot. Your best customer is the person who tells their friends and converts new customers. That’s the ultimate endgame for your customer’s journey: where new journeys start due to your customer’s loyalty to your brand.

So how can your brand achieve this level of evangelization from your customers? The answer is clienteling.

Clienteling is how modern brands turn mere customers into patrons who can’t wait to introduce your stores to their circle. By offering a data-driven, personalized shopping experience (ie, all the stages in the journey up to this point), they become true believers.

For example, Koio, a sneaker brand, leveraged a major aspect of clienteling – personalized bulk messaging – to get the word out about a new shoe to their highly-engaged sneakerheads.

Koio’s targeted messaging for the event accounted for over 10% of in-store sales over a weekend, and 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.

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. Endear can help. Sign up for a free demo of Endear today.