Retail marketing is a tricky business. That is why, for this guide, we consulted the retail marketing experts at Acceleration Partners, an award-winning, global partner marketing agency with extensive experience in retail, to give you a deeper understanding of what a great retail marketing strategy involves, and the best tactics for retail marketing success in 2023 (and beyond!).
Retail marketing as a whole doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Most people focus on e-commerce alone, and the potential it has, but in reality, it only accounts for 14% of global retail sales. The other 86% comes from people walking into stores and buying products in person.
This presents a unique opportunity to use both online and offline marketing to drive revenue for your business. If you don’t take advantage of the right channels for retail marketing, then potential customers will go to a competitor without thinking twice. That is why it is so important to have a great retail marketing strategy!
So, what makes for a truly successful retail marketing strategy? And how do develop and implement one that works for your unique brand?
That is exactly what we’re covering today – everything you need to know to create and implement your own successful retail marketing strategy, along with examples, case studies and tips from the best of the best in retail marketing!
Let’s dive in!
Retail marketing is the process by which retail businesses promote their goods and services, to their target audience, in order to build awareness, goodwill, and generate sales.
There are countless ways a retailer can market their services. Some of them are free and others are paid. Traditionally, retail marketing has relied heavily on mass media advertising and commercials.
That said, retail marketing has rapidly evolved to include more peer-driven marketing techniques, such as affiliate and influencer marketing.
According the experts at Acceleration Partners, to be successful in the highly competitive space that is retail, brands must leverage the power of social influence to reach through the noise, establish trust and build meaningful connections with their customers.
It’s important to note that retail marketing is used by both e-commerce and traditional retailers. In fact, almost every retailer uses retail marketing in some form or another. It’s also apparent that online channels are becoming more and more popular. The majority of consumers use search engines to research retail products.
When those searches are on a mobile device, 88% of consumers call or go to the local business within 24 hours.
Before you can get 88% of the people who find you to walk into your store or visit your website, there are a few things that should be in place:
The fundamental approach to retail marketing can be broken down into 4 key principles, namely: product, price, place and promotion.
This might be a given, but it is considered one of the most important retail components- you first need an actual product, otherwise known as merchandise, to sell.
There are two types of merchandise – namely hard or durable goods and then soft goods. Some stores can sell a combination of these types, or they might sell only one type of merchandise.
Once you have a neat product to sell to your customers, it then comes down to the packaging! And the packaging is way more important than some retailers realize.
Here’s what they recommended for designing packaging that has a lasting impact:
Your choice of pricing is a vital part of the retail strategy, as it needs to cover the cost of goods, and any overheads, as well as remain affordable for customers. There are four main pricing strategies for you to use as a retailer:
You can also look at the following two pricing methods for your product:
This involves using a break-even price for your product, where you add a markup, based on the amount of profit you would like to make. This is a very simple approach and doesn’t take your competition or product’s value into account.
This method involves determining how much your product is worth to your target audience and using a price that will attract them to make a purchase. It might even mean using higher prices, allowing you to generate higher profits.
You may have the best product, packaging and price, but if it’s out of reach of customers, you’re in for a dilemma! So make sure you find the perfect location suited for your type of product.
The place for a product is where the retailer conducts business with its customers. While most of us think it’s a physical location such as a brick-and-mortar store or a shopping stall at a street market, it can also be the location of a product on another company’s online catalog, platform or an e-store.
Promotion is the last, but certainly not the least, of the marketing principles. Promotion has to do with knowing how to effectively communicate and spark an interest in your product with your customers.
These tactics can include sales promotions, in-store merchandising, face-to-face marketing, and publicity.
However, in a world that is saturated with marketing messaging, consumers are relying more and more on recommendations from other people (not from brands themselves) to inform their purchasing decisions.
According to Acceleration Partners, various forms of partnership marketing, such as affiliate and influencer marketing, are now critically important for retail promotion.
You can also use these different methods at different times, depending on your objectives, which could be introducing your customers to a new product, trying to increase sales, product positioning, or retaliating to direct completion.
It’s not possible to launch a retail marketing campaign without a plan and get everything to work out. It won’t.
Apart from the right tools, there are three key elements needed before you think about launching any retail marketing initiative:
Do you have a clear enough understanding of your target customers?
Do you know what they want and the way they perceive certain brands and styles of marketing? Are you turning them off or hitting the right notes?
Until you can answer these questions with certainty, it’ll be difficult to achieve breakaway success. The good news is that you can get a deep understanding of your customers cheaply and effectively.
By sending out questionnaires to past customers or the people who visit your store and website. This isn’t a customer satisfaction survey. Instead, you’re trying to understand what they’d like to accomplish with the kinds of products and services you’re selling.
For example, if you are selling beard care products you’d want to know why customers buy. Is it to boost their confidence, live better lives, get a date, etc.? The answers inform both what you offer and how you position those products.
Beardbrand has a deep understanding of its customer base and showcases that with its Keep On Growing® mission.
The company launched successful retail marketing campaigns, which fostered loyalty and culminated in a partnership with Target stores.
Here are a few questions you can ask to get a better understanding of your customers:
In online questionnaires, you’ll want to find out what the customer’s needs are. If you have a bigger, more expensive product that takes some time to consider, you also want to know which buying funnel stage they’re in. This gives you the ability to adapt your messaging accordingly. The AARRR lead funnel framework is a helpful method to optimize communication for ‘Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, and ultimately Revenue’.
It’s one thing to know what your people want and why they want it. It’s another thing to give it to them with the right products and services.
For example, let’s say the fictional company Acme Inc.’s customers want a stronger, softer, and shiner beard and hope to achieve that by using natural organic products. A product with tons of preservatives and chemicals would be contrary to that. Even if it helped them achieve their main objective, it wouldn’t be appealing to them.
Part of the preliminary work for retail campaigns involves making sure you have the right products for the audience you’re targeting.
If you don’t, you can do one of two things:
Neither option is ideal after you’ve launched, so focus on building a solid foundation.
The final piece of the retail marketing puzzle is being where your customers can easily find and access your products. If you opened a new physical store, would you go deep in the woods and put it in a place that could only be accessed after a 2-hour hike?
Of course not.
It would make a great getaway but a horrible store location. The same thing can happen online. A confusing layout, difficult product discovery, and lack of support will hurt your marketing efforts.
In either scenario, it would be hard to do business with you. Unless you’re one of kind in every aspect, people won’t work too hard to give you their money.
The takeaway is to make sure people can access your products and services easily and conveniently, before you launch any campaigns.
Now that you have a better understanding of the core elements of a successful retail marketing strategy, let’s take a look at a case study to demonstrate how powerful a good strategy is when you take a data-driven approach and fully understand your customers and how best to meet their needs:
Acceleration Partners was engaged by a large global retailer, who wished to expand its customer base to include millennial and Gen Z women.
Engaging these previously unengaged demographic groups could drive exponential growth and revenue for the retailer by opening up a whole new market segment.
Supporting research data points showed that:
To engage the new target demographics, Acceleration Partners took a data-driven approach, researching the best ways to leverage existing affiliate partnerships, as well as the most effective new partnerships to engage Millennial and Gen Z women.
Based on their findings, the client services team recommended that they continue to pay affiliates a percentage-based commission but add the option to pay flat fees for specific placements.
They also recommended that the retailer engage 10 new Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) enabled partners because the majority of BNPL users are Millennials or Gen Z (75% of BNPL users in the US, and 80% globally).
Adding BNPL partners drove purchases by meeting the target demographic where they were, and offering them an easily accessible and more convenient shopping experience, that involved fewer clicks.
Using BNPL partners also meant that the retailer could implement a one-time card, where customers within the BPNL app could break payments up into installments without the partners needing to be added as payment solutions on the retailer’s website.
This innovative, data-backed, approach led to some incredible results for the retailer:
The retail marketing strategy developed by Acceleration Partners integrated into the retailers existing affiliate partnerships and added new BNPL partnerships. The success of this strategy is demonstrated by the measurable results they achieved:
As you can see, a good retail marketing strategy is essential for success and, when done right, can drive exponential growth and revenue for your brand.
When it comes to retail marketing, having the right software makes all the difference. There are loads of options available and choosing the best platform can be a time-consuming and overwhelming process.
To make it easier, we have selected three of the best options for you to consider. We selected these four options based on:
These retail marketing platforms are all great options that will provide all the capabilities you need, as well as robust analytics and reporting. Importantly, they all offer automation, customization, segmentation and personalization, which are essential components to any successful retail marketing campaign.
Marsello is a smart, targeted marketing tool for omnichannel stores. Powered by Point-of-Sale and eCommerce, Marsello does the smart work for you, crunching the data from customer behavior in-store and online so you can deliver targeted, and timely, marketing that gets results. Marsello us a powerful tool, with key features that include loyalty programs, automated campaigns, email marketing, SMS, customer feedback collection, and detailed, accurate reporting. Marsello’s integrations include Shopify, Vend, BigCommerce, Cin7, Lightspeed Kounta, and more.
Marsello is a fantastic tool for retailers who need a marketing solution that works both in-store and online. Their pricing plan is based on three factors: integrations, number of sites, and customer count. They include the first 1000 customers and POS + eCommerce connection within their baseline plan and their easy-to-use pricing calculator makes it easy for you to get an idea of what Marsello would cost for your unique business.
Capterra Rating: 5/5 (2 reviews)
TrustRadius Rating: N/A
Klaviyo is a comprehensive, cloud-based, retail marketing platform. It offers a full suite of features, including a good combination of automation and personalization, as well as customer segmentation. It integrates well with most e-commerce solutions, including Shopify, Big Commerce, Commerce Cloud, Magento, and WooCommerce. While it is mainly used by e-commerce vendors, it is also used by some B2B and B2C companies.
One of the best aspects of Klaviyo is that they offer highly flexible pricing, based on the number of contacts and the number of messages sent to those contacts per month. In this way, you only pay for what you need and use, but you can still scale and grow as needed. There is also a free plan, for up to 250 contacts. The main limitation of the platform is that it offers limited features for social media marketing and lead database storage.
G2 Rating: 4.6/5 (495 reviews)
TrustRadius Rating: 8.7/10 (58 reviews)
Omnisend is an all-in-one retail marketing platform that is designed for multichannel campaigns that include email, social media, and mobile channels. It offers a full suite of MAP features, as well as automation, segmentation, and personalization. It integrates with all major e-commerce platforms, including Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and PrestaShop.
Omnisend is great for small and medium businesses that are looking for a scalable solution. Their price plans do not limit user contacts and are differentiated on the features offered rather than the volume of contacts/messages sent.
G2 Rating: 4.6/5 (564 reviews)
TrustRadius Rating: 8.1/10 (8 reviews)
Emarsys (by SAP) is an omnichannel retail marketing platform, with an emphasis on customer engagement. It offers fully integrated, multichannel, campaign management, personalization, segmentation, and data analytics. Emarsys uses AI technology that automates flows based on collected data. It is customizable and offers great personalization features, including optimized timing/scheduling for message deployment.
Emarsys combines CRM with email marketing and automation. It also offers A/B split testing and provides robust data analytics and reporting. Key integrations include Shopify, Magento, and Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
G2 Rating: 4.3/5 (239 reviews)
TrustRadius Rating: 6.9/10 (23 reviews)
Flipkart Ads Manager is an easy-to-use platform for retail marketing ads. This platform offers three main categories of features – an adds manager, a pricing manager, and a product selection manager. With these tools, retail brands create display, product contextual, and product listing ads. These functions allow a lot of customization, however, they’re only ideal for ads on Flipkart’s platform.
The pricing manager enables businesses to offer competitive prices based on competitor and customer analysis. What’s fantastic about this tool is how user-friendly it is. You can easily measure your performance through Flipkart’s built-in analytics.
G2 Rating: 4.3/5 (239 reviews)
TrustRadius Rating: 7.3/10 (24 reviews)
Perpetua considers itself a boutique investment firm. This retail marketing platform will help you manage the financial aspects of your business, leaving you with ample room to grow. With a rigorous, repeatable, and pragmatic investment process, this platform delivers bespoke investment strategies that are fair to your and your employees and is focused on strategic partnerships and industry relationships.
Perpetua is an excellent retail marketing platform for startups and enterprises that need specialized investment and financial strategies.
G2 Rating: 4.7/5 (71 reviews)
TrustRadius Rating: N/A
Retail Media by Criteo is a retail media ecosystem! Talk about putting traditional retail marketing software to shame. This platform will help your retail brand target and acquire new customers, secure brand loyalty in your existing audience and optimize your customer retention.
Another aspect of Retail Media by Criteo that businesses love is their high-level technology solutions. This platform offers technology for an AI engine, product recommendations, and predictive bidding.
G2 Rating: 4/5 (18 reviews)
TrustRadius Rating: 6.7/10 (18 reviews)
Pacvue is a dedicated eCommerce marketing platform for retail businesses. You can use this platform to grow your brand on several well-known platforms like Amazon and Instacart. Pacvue will start by improving your campaign’s performance through sales optimization and high-level automation.
You can also count on this retail marketing platform to optimize your products’ shelf life. Pacvue will manage your inventory, optimize your landing pages to accelerate sales, and drive organic sales through increased online visibility.
G2 Rating: 4.4/5 (12 reviews)
TrustRadius Rating: N/A
Quartile is the top retail marketing platform for retail brands selling on Amazon. With a team of Amazon selling and marketing experts, you can rely on solutions and campaigns that drive results. The purpose of Quartile is to be an external extension of your brand and develop, implement and manage your campaigns for you. You’ll receive detailed, weekly reports to evaluate your campaigns’ performances.
What’s unique about Quartile is its advanced technology solutions. There are so many ways to customize your campaigns and bidding processes through automation. Every business gets a dedicated account manager so you don’t have to look to resources or guides for help.
G2 Rating: 4.2/5 (31 reviews)
TrustRadius Rating: N/A
Kevel is a high-level API that allows retail brands to develop custom ad platforms. You’ll own this platform while Kevel’s team will be on the sidelines, ready to offer speedy guidance. Within a few weeks, businesses can build a bespoke ad server with functions and features like sponsored ad listings, native ads, retail media, and email ads. You can also leverage personalized content and digital out-of-home ads to accelerate your bottom line.
Kevel is not that challenging to use given how powerful this platform is. While the team is small, they are super responsive and helpful.
G2 Rating: 4.5/5 (42 reviews)
TrustRadius Rating: 10/10 (2 reviews)
Now that you understand what’s required for successful retail marketing, let’s look at the different tactics you can use to make the most of it:
Social media, when used properly, is a powerful way to connect with your ideal customer. Advertisers from every industry have taken note. Worldwide retail digital ad spending will surpass $50 billion in 2023.
This shows just how effective social media marketing can be for your business. However, there’s one problem most people don’t realize – it’s difficult to grow a large presence on all social media channels at once.
Look closely and you’ll realize that most businesses that are successful with social media started with one or two platforms. After they built up their presence, they expanded to other social sites.
If you want to succeed in retail marketing, it’s important to do the same thing. What channel works best for you, based on the products you’re selling and the audience you’re targeting?
For example, brands such as Frank Body have built large Instagram followings. In fact, it used Instagram to grow to $20 million in annual revenue, and secure deals with the likes of Target, Sephora and Ulta Beauty.
The platform is introducing even more tools like Instagram stories which retailers can use to grow their reach and build an engaged customer base.
Other brands are using Facebook to get in front of their ideal customer. Thursday Boot Company went from selling a few boots a week to selling thousands a month with targeted Facebook Ads that focused on the lifestyle of its customers.
Williams Sonoma focused heavily on Pinterest and has grown a massive following. It now derives a lot of referral traffic and sales from the platform.
I’m not showing you these examples so you go and try your hand at each of them. Select a single platform that works well with your products and audience and focus on growing there first.
Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to connect with customers and generate revenue.
There’s one big challenge, inboxes are crowded. The average office worker receives over 100 emails a day. Unless your emails can stand out from the crowd, they’ll be ignored or people will unsubscribe.
Prevent this by using simple behavioral segmentation to send targeted emails to your audience members and past customers. I’ll touch on a few of the highest impact tactics:
The average e-commerce store has multiple products for sale and each one has a unique page. When someone visits, they’ll interact with the product pages they’re interested in and ignore the rest. Track this using your email marketing software and send out relevant email automation based on the pages a visitor has viewed.
There used to be a time that the software was very expensive, but there are modern email marketing tools that are quite cheap and they make it simple to segment people based on website activity.
Start by setting an automation trigger that goes out to people who’ve visited a page 2 times or more within 30 days (or however long it takes people to go from consideration to purchase). If you have a large product catalog, focus on the most popular product first and expand from there.
This segmentation method focuses on finding the kind of content your subscribers are interacting with and sending more of it. When someone first becomes a subscriber, it’s natural to lead them through a welcome series and send them different types of content.
After that, what do you do?
It would be far from ideal to send them multiple offers about products they may or may not be interested in. Get around this dilemma by tracking what kind of emails subscribers are opening and the links they’re clicking.
For example, someone signs up for Acme Inc.’s mailing list, which is about an active lifestyle and activewear. Acme Inc. doesn’t know whether they’re a man or woman, if they prefer running or weight training, or any other information about the subscriber.
It sends out all kinds of emails to the new subscriber and notices they’re only clicking on links related to women’s products and content. It also realizes that the subscriber likes yoga pants and running shoes. Going forward, Acme Inc. sends more content tailored to the subscriber’s behavior.
This is not a manual process. Advanced tools like Active Campaign or OmniSend make it possible to apply tags or update contact records based on behavior. You can then send messages to specific groups of people, which get opened, clicked, and generate revenue.
This may be the most powerful type of behavioral segmentation. Your subscriber has told you they’re interested and is ready to spend cold hard cash.
You can send similar promotions to them regularly. Even if they don’t buy from you, it’ll be well received because it’s something they’re interested in.
ASOS takes this strategy to heart. The only things I buy from it are shoes and jackets. The company sends me an email every few days. About 70% of them are focused on shoes and outerwear. The other 30% are emails about interesting content and different product categories.
These emails are created through email content automation. The software inserts the right products for you. But there’s an important aspect to keep in mind when you’re segmenting based on behavior. Your customer may be interested in much more than you know. In addition to emails promoting similar products, be sure to add different product categories to the mix.
E-commerce has a significant drawback – you can’t touch, feel, or smell a product before buying it. In many situations, that matters. Another thing to consider is that some consumers only shop at places they’re familiar with. That means they’re not willing to try a new brand they found online.
A pop up shop can help you reach a segment of your market that would otherwise be inaccessible. Other benefits include:
These are just a few of the many benefits associated with pop up shops and brands like Kylie Cosmetics have taken note of just how powerful it can be.
People reportedly waited outside for 11 hours or more before getting inside. Smaller retailers are also creating meaningful experiences for their customers who, in many cases, travel to participate in the activity.
For an offline businesses, it’s also possible to partner with an online retailer to expand your reach and test demand.
There are a number of things to keep in mind when you’re planning a popup shop campaign. It’s more than choosing a space and sending out an email to your subscribers:
It takes a considerable amount of effort but it can be one of the most powerful ways to connect with a larger market because it’s an experience.
The RealReal launched a pop up shop and had guests from Vogue and Vanity Fair cover it. The end result was exposure, revenue, and goodwill.
The last retail marketing tactic I want to touch on is using brand ambassadors to extend your reach, both online and offline.
A brand ambassador is someone who’s paid (or otherwise rewarded) to endorse a company’s products and services. They work closely with your in-house teams to create and conceptualize marketing campaigns that build awareness and increase revenue.
In fact, it’s the exact strategy Lululemon used to go from a single yoga studio to a multi-billion dollar company.
I want to make something clear. A brand ambassador marketing initiative is different from an influencer marketing initiative. Take a look at this article to get a feel for how different brands are empowering their ambassadors.
Of course, your brand ambassadors can be influencers in their own right, but it’s not a prerequisite. Depending on your reach, products, and goals, there are many ways to run a brand ambassador program. Consider the following things before you launch it:
Take cues from successful programs in the past
Brand ambassadors have been in use for a long time. It’s not something that started with social media or the internet. Research companies that have gone before you to understand what set their successful campaign apart and how you can replicate that success.
Start small and iterate
This is obvious, right? Not exactly.
Many retailers are so excited about the thought of a brand ambassador program that they recruit as many people as they can. In the end, they’re unable to give their early ambassadors the tools and attention they need to succeed.
It’s better to move slow and steady in the early stages. Focus on finding people who’re already talking about you and recruit them to your cause. Use social listening tools like Mention or Brand24 to find them.
How are you compensating ambassadors?
Influential ambassadors may require cold hard cash but many of your early converts won’t. The best ambassadors are people who’re already familiar with your brand and would use your products whether they were being paid or not.
With that being said, they’ll be working closely with you to build awareness and drive revenue. This will require time and energy on their part, so a simple thank you won’t cut it.
Daniel Wellington runs a college brand ambassador program that rewards participants with merchandise, exclusive event invites, concert tickets, gift cards, and more.
Finally, let your brand ambassadors do their thing. Apart from a few guidelines, it’s important to give them room to work.
They’re advocates of your brand and are best suited to communicate what makes you unique to them. They can add their own spin to your marketing, which you may have never considered. If you make them rehearse that message or change it too much then it loses its ring of authenticity.
Retail marketing is constantly evolving and it’s important for you to evolve right along with it. If you don’t then it’ll be impossible to stand out from the crowd.
The specific techniques may change from year to year but the underlying strategies remain the same. It’s important to understand what your customers want and need from you then deliver it in a way that’s convenient to them.
Choose one or two of the tactics outlined here to focus on and you’ll be sure to see massive improvements in revenue, engagement, and brand awareness.
Let me know what your favorite retail marketing strategies are in the comments and don’t forget to share.
The retail marketing mix consists of the four primary P’s: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Nowadays, it also includes other P’s such as Presentation, Packaging, Personnel and Positioning. The Product is the particular type of merchandise you are wanting to promote, either durable goods or soft goods. The Price is determined on a number of direct and indirect factors that need to be considered and whether the retailer wants to aim for: low pricing; high to low pricing; competitive pricing; or psychological pricing. The Place is the specific location where the retailer attracts the customers and where the point of sale (POS) occurs. The location of a product is often one of the most important variables in retail marketing. Promotion defines all the objectives and goals for increasing the awareness and sale of the product. This includes a wide range of marketing activities, such as digital advertising, word of mouth, press releases, customer incentives and rewards, contests and prices and personnel sales.
Retail is the sale of consumable goods or services to customers in relatively small quantities through various distribution channels. These channels can be through large franchises or hypermarkets and supermarkets, to medium or small independent stores, including online stores and automatic vending machines. Retail marketing is the processes and strategies implemented by retailers (i.e. the merchant) to attract customers, generate goodwill, increase brand awareness and drive sales. Retail marketing incorporates a range of avenues that must be strategically planned based on the nature and type of business.
Williams Sonoma, a furniture manufacturing company in the United States focused its efforts on growing a stronger following on the popular social media platform, Pinterest. This retail marketing strategy generated a great deal of traction and has led to a higher volume of referrals and increased sales.
A retail marketing strategy is custom-designed according to the type of business and needs to assess the following criteria: target market, consumer needs and accessibility. A retail marketing strategy will incorporate different types of retail marketing. These include:
• The internet- through a website, which includes an online store for purchasing products or services; and having a strong presence on a wide range of social media platforms and forums.
• Word of mouth programs- through referral programs and networking events.
• PR marketing- connecting with customers before they even enter the store, by partnering with various local charities or events or CSR activities.
• Direct marketing- engaging directly with customers, through any form of print, audio or visual advertisements. For example through billboards, advertisements, brochures, catalogs and so on.
About the author: Daniel Ndukwu is the founder and CEO of KyLeads. There, he helps businesses create meaningful experiences and increase audience engagement while generating more leads using surveys, quizzes, and smart popups. When not working, you can find him spending time with his family or and traveling as much as possible.
Insider Intelligence: US retail media ad spending will reach $31.49 billion in 2021, up 53.4% from 2020