2012 and the holiday retail season is behind us. The results are well, a mixed bag. According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales beat expectations. While other non-industry publications posted disappointing results.
Whether you view 2012 retail sales as a shopping cart half-empty or half-full, the 2013 retail season is looking to be a challenging year. The fiscal cliff crisis has been avoided (for now), worldwide economic forecasts are not exactly rosy, and if the possibility of another natural disaster like hurricane Sandy worry retailers and investors. Yet, at some point, we must put worry aside and implement practical tips that will make 2013 a year for growth in terms of customer spend, loyalty and profit margins. As an optimist, I see every challenge as an opportunity to improve. While in-store marketing is only a piece of the retail puzzle, it is an important one. Here are some practical ideas to put in place for 2013.
1. Accurate Store Profiles
The need for accurate store profiles often gets moved to the back burner. However, inaccurate store profiles cause headaches such as wasted money, confusion, poor brand representation, and a confusing shipping experience for consumers. Very few multi-unit retail chains have exactly the same store design and layout for every store. Each has a unique number of windows, store front space, square footage, ceiling heights, register counter space, and overall real estate. So why not take advantage of what you have? With accurate store profiles, you can maximize the space with appropriate and compelling point-of-purchase, so that you lure the customer in with eye-catching storefronts and in-store messaging that catches them at every turn.
2. Creative Messaging
Promotional pieces can sometimes be overwhelming to consumers rendering them ineffective. I have seen a lot of messaging this past year that attempts to cram every promotion and detail onto one small poster. The most effective way to get your messaging across is to be bold, simple and concise. Get to the point of the promotion in order to draw consumers into the store. Another mistake retailers make is not tying all their advertising messages together to improve brand recognition. Make bold statements with a similar scheme across all marketing channels to make an impact on consumers. You want them to easily recognize your brand when they see your promotional messaging.
3. Create Loyalty
Promote loyalty programs or rewards programs that are available to the consumers. Giving consumers a reason to come back to your store is a sure way to increase profit margins. In too many instances, consumers may not even be aware of the rewards programs that are offered by a specific retailer. It is very important to promote these programs in-store so consumers are fully aware of what is available to them. Promotional pieces can be posted at the check-out or at store entries for optimal exposure. Associates should invite consumers to the program at check-out as well.
4. Provide a Great Customer Experience
Not only are in-store marketing strategies very important to creating consumer loyalty and increasing profit margins, but creating a great customer experience is very important as well. Make sure employees are tasked with inviting customers into their store and making their visit as enjoyable as possible. Assist, provide, and exceed. Assist the customer with their needs, provide them with the products they are in need of or provide proper services, and exceed customer expectations.
2013 could finally be the year that you tighten up your in-store marketing processes, eliminate wasted time and resources by maintaining accurate store profiles, which will result in happier corporate and store level associates. Enticing consumers and creating loyalty by developing a compelling creative messaging strategy, communicating the benefits of loyalty, and providing exceptional customer service will also help to drive traffic. Improving processes and gaining customer loyalty will certainly lead to an increase in profit margins. By implementing these strategies and ideas maybe you can start looking at the shopping cart fully loaded this year.