More and more start-ups are appearing nowadays in the e-commerce field: “I have discovered a market niche, I have some very good products and I want to sell them online” – this is a phrase stated by a lot of young entrepreneurs. Nothing wrong so far, because it all starts with a good business idea.
But according to a series of modern business theories, it is easy to enter e-commerce but it is harder to resist. And one of the biggest challenges that online store owners face, as well as owners in traditional retail, is marketing. How to organize the marketing activity, what to promote first, where is the thin line between the brand and the product, and so on. An old saying states that “retail is detail” and this principle governs also the retail marketing activity, be it online, traditional or multichannel.
And because a marketing activity well done is the fuel supplying the growth of a business, you can find herebelow a list of elements to consider when doing retail marketing:
1. Selection of products to be promoted in retail is a science itself; especially for large ranges of products, how do we choose what to promote and when? If they are too many, we can confuse the consumers and they do not understand anything at all in the end, if they are too few, there will be too many unpromoted. The best way is to make a plan, the so-called commercial plan, in which to determine on which product categories we wish to focus in various times of the year. When we elaborate this calendar, it is best that we take into account several aspects:
- Seasonality – if the case: which products are sold during the summer, winter, a.s.o.
- Which products are most profitable (having a large margin) and which bring us volumes (have a lower margin but more sales) – here it is recommended that we analyze the sales history in order to draw some relevant conclusions
- Besides profit or volume oriented products, we can also set a few representative ones for our brand, those that we want people to associate us with – called also image products; sometimes they can be the same with the profit or volume ones
- It is good to consider also the competition moves, but instead of doing what they do, an even stronger approach would be to identify those differentiating products that we can use to build our own positioning, different from theirs
- The selection of the products to be promoted should be done by a mixed team – marketing, sales, customer service, logistics, etc. – in order to have all aspects in mind, such as internal priorities, consumption trends, but also the stocks availability.
2. Discounts and promotions must be consumed with moderation; they can help on a short term, but used continuously, they can irremediably alter the perception on quality; besides, people will come to buy every time you have discounts, but once they get used to them, their behavior will turn into an addiction and they will refuse to buy for a normal price, waiting instead for the next discounts. Promotions are considered tactical actions on a short term, only once in a while, not on a permanent basis. In the end, the long term is formed of several short terms, right? And every time we communicate only on a short term, we lose the opportunity to transmit a message on the long term: our point of view, the real reason why we get to differentiate ourselves from the competition (you can learn more about how to build a strong brand and how to use communication messages with Brand Essence’s branding courses).
3. There are no products without images; no matter the fact that we speak about online trade or offline stores, promotion by digital channels is necessary nowadays because people get informed a lot in the online environment, no matter how they choose to buy. Thus, if we want to tell clients about what we sell, we need to invest in some quality images for the products, detailed and explanatory, from various angles and, why not, accompanied by presentation videos if possible. Before seeing a “presentation” of the products in our store, people need to see an online presentation to attract them and convince them to come closer. If we speak of an online store, the need is even stronger as the only environment where the client meets the product before deciding to buy it is the online channel.
4. The product is not somewhere and the brand elsewhere; there are a lot of so-called marketing and advertising specialists who split retail promotion in “product” and “ brand” promotions. Unfortunately (or fortunately!) buyers do not split them as such at all in their minds. They can perceive a brand as a multitude of impressions mixed together, containing products, images, experiences they had or only heard about, and in the end their own personal perception about what the respective brand means. Thus, classifying retail campaigns so radically between the two areas risks to alter actually the unity and clarity of the brand, which cannot live apart from its products; the healthiest promotion method remains the approach in which we ask ourselves “how do we help our clients?” and we answer it in a most creative and relevant way, assimilating also products where the case.
5. Planning helps and consistency makes wonders; considering that retail marketing has a lot of details that need to be adjusted before any campaign or promotion, planning the communication activity and working in an organized manner are probably success factors stronger than some sporadic creative ideas; the continuity of the presence and the consistency of the messages (favored by a business environment which is not fixed in short term results) help obtaining a stable construction and increasing clients’ preference, accelerating the business growth curve.
6. Measure and monitor continuously the results of the campaigns: digital marketing offers a lot of indicators you can evaluate with and permanently improve your activity.
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