As a retailer, you work hard to attract people to your store. You spend money to market and advertise your business, and you likely devote time and effort to sprucing up your window display and storefront.
But what do you do when visitors actually walk through your doors?
Having an in-store marketing strategy is critical to your success as a business. The right tactics can increase sales, boost customer engagement, and even drive repeat visits. If you don’t have an in-store marketing plan in place yet, it’s time to create one.
We’ll show you how to do just that in this post. Keep reading to learn what in-store marketing is, why it’s important, and the steps you should take to maximize sales in your location.
What is in-store marketing?
Simply put, it’s the practice of promoting products to customers in your brick-and-mortar retail store. In-store marketing includes several sales-driving strategies, including retail merchandising, promotions, and upselling and cross-selling.
Why is in-store marketing important?
Even with the dramatic shift to online retail, e-commerce still represents less than 10 percent of total retail sales and is expected to remain below 20 percent even five years from now. And according to Google, 61 percent of consumers would rather shop with brands which have a physical location, rather than online only. In addition, around 80 percent of shoppers go in-store when there is an item they need or want immediately.
Shoppers are still coming into physical stores, and the tips below will help you close more sales once they’re there.
1. Greet customers the right way
One of shoppers’ top three biggest complaints about shopping is the lack of acknowledgment from retail staff. How you greet your retail customers — along with how you interact with them in the store — makes a lasting impression. It’s a low-cost investment that can improve the customer experience, which can lead to increased sales and customer loyalty.
The greeting is the first thing that shoppers will experience in your store, and it sets the stage for the experience the customer is about to have. Here are some quick tips to help you and your staff nail your greetings:
- Start with small talk to break the ice and invite two-way conversation. In other words, avoid just “yes” or “no” questions and instead, train employees to ask things like, “How’d you hear about us?” or “Who are we shopping for today?”
- If it’s a returning customer, foster a sense of familiarity. Ask questions like, “Welcome back! How’ve you been?” or “What brings you in to see us again?”
- Encourage your associates to share a piece of themselves — and your brand — with customers. Make sure you’re being specific, personal, authentic, and positive. For example, you could say something like “Personally, I like to browse the store from this section before going to the back” or “I’ve been using this product lately and have seen great results!”
- Offer assistance. Let people know from the get-go that you’re there to help. Say something along the lines of “Can I offer you a basket?” or “Would like me to hold that for you?”
When it comes to retail, first impressions last. Make yours a good one by greeting shoppers the right way.
2. Use the right in-store layout for better in-store marketing
A cluttered or confusing store layout will frustrate shoppers trying to navigate their way through your store.
First of all, make sure you have enough space between products and fixtures, avoiding what Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy, calls the “butt brush” effect. When shoppers were bumped once or twice from behind, they would abandon a display or product they were looking at — which isn’t good! It’s fine to have shelves packed with merchandise, but make sure you still give your customers their personal space to move around.
Also be aware of where you “lead” shoppers. The big debate is about whether or not retailers should lead customers in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction inside their stores. Some claim that since most people are right-handed, they instinctively turn to the right and go through the store in a counter-clockwise direction.
Yet other studies indicate that shopper direction has more to do with their vehicle traffic patterns — consumers in the U.K. and Australia drive on the left side of the road so they tend to shop in a clockwise manner, while consumers from right-hand driving countries like the U.S. usually turn right when they enter a store.
Which should you do?
There’s greater evidence to support the driving theory, but it’s best to test it out for yourself. If you find that your customers do actually follow the country’s vehicle patterns, then that’s where you should place new arrivals and other high-margin items.
3. Put your checkout counter or cash wrap to good use
Your checkout counter is where a store guest goes from simply being someone in your store to becoming a paying customer. But it isn’t just a place to pay for things; it’s a place to build your brand, create customer loyalty, and increase sales.
One of the simplest things you can do to make this area profitable is to look at the products that you put there. This is an area ripe for impulse buys, so fill it with items that you can easily upsell.
Think about it: What small products do customers often need help finding? What items do your target customers often need, but might not think to buy? These are the items that should be stocked at your cash wrap and checkout counter — along with gift cards, which are always a popular sell.
House of CB in West Hollywood, CA, does an excellent job maximizing their cash wrap. The checkout counter is packed with items like adhesive cups and backless pads, which perfectly complement the strapless and backless clothing the store sells.
4. Keep your displays on-point
Your retail space has to be your most productive and efficient salesperson, and visual merchandising helps to optimize your space for maximum revenue. What should you keep in mind?
Show, don’t tell
People typically want an idea of what a product will look and feel like before they buy it. To cater to that desire, set up your product displays so that shoppers can picture your items in environments where they’d use them — tools in a garage, clothes in a home, etc.
Follow the rule of three
Next, abide by the rule of three — when arranging your products, you’ll want to have three of them side by side instead of just one. For example, if you’re arranging things by height, you’d have items that were short, medium, and tall.
When we’re looking at something asymmetrical, our eyes are most likely to keep moving. When we see something symmetrical or balanced, we tend to stop and linger, meaning it will keep your customers’ attention longer on your product displays.
Check out this example from Kiss the Cook, which uses the rule of three to market their pocket straws in-store.
Make sure that key products are at eye level
Research shows that products receive 35 percent more attention when they’re positioned at eye level — i.e. 4 to 5 feet from the ground. As such, make sure that any key products or signs are positioned at eye level to maximize sales.
5. Engage multiple senses
One of the top reasons customers prefer shopping in-store is so they can see, feel and experience products in person. While the majority of your in-store marketing is visual, it’s critical that you engage all of the senses.
Here are some tips on how to do that:
When it comes to sound, pick your playlist wisely by first determining the atmosphere that you want to create. Make sure the music enhances — and doesn’t overpower — the ambiance.
Your audience should be a prime consideration here. If you cater to a specific customer segment — for example, teens and tweens — then having a trendy and upbeat playlist may work best for your store. However, if you cater to a wider range of customers, then choose something neutral.
Scent can be great — especially if you’re a coffee shop or a bakery — but tread cautiously so you don’t overpower shoppers with an aroma. While some people might love the scent of lilies, others might have a negative response to it.
Identify a signature scent that is a favorite among most people, and then introduce this scent to your store. Soon your customers will begin associating you with that scent — in a good way.
As for touch, having a “hands-on” vibe can enhance the shopping experience. A simple way of doing this is to take sample products from their boxes to encourage customers to test or play with them — think of the Apple store, where you can test out their tech.
6. Learn to upsell and cross-sell
Upselling and cross-selling are two inexpensive and effective ways to market to customers in-store.
While both are effective, upselling was found to work 20 times better than cross-selling. Being offered a product or service that makes a customer’s first choice better is more appealing than being distracted by something else — but both should still be used strategically.
For example, identify products in your store that make sense together and put them in a single display — in a pet store, you could build out a whole scene for a new pet: a bed, a carrier box, dishes for food, pet food, and a new toy.
Likewise, when your staff are making their pitch, use language that determines that an upsell or cross-sell makes sense for your customer, and then demonstrate the value the additional product or service can offer. Be honest and give logical suggestions, and customers will give you their loyalty — and those additional sales.
7. Conduct in-store demonstrations or services
A great way to bring traffic into your store is to offer a unique experience like an in-store demonstration or special event. Do you sell wine? Bring in a sommelier to demonstrate how their wine was made, and offer a tasting menu.
That’s what the folks at Shawn’s Fine Wine are doing in their store. They occasionally hold in-store wine and cheese tastings for members of their wine clubs. These events even allow guests to score exclusive discounts so they can save on their purchases.
Whether you hold a class or a meet-and-greet, the best part of those events is that they encourage consumers to buy items they wouldn’t have otherwise purchased, all while creating a memorable shopping experience.
8. Create compelling promotions
A study found that 91 percent of shoppers make purchases based on in-store promotions, so now is the time to get creative. Start with your window displays as they influence purchases an average of 24 percent of the time. They’re a great way to advertise promotions for your store, so pick a theme, show some personality, and promote the latest and greatest products.
Other promotional ideas include holding exclusive VIP sales for your highest-value customers and making them part of a members-only club. Essentially, you’re rewarding them for their loyalty.
You can have a little fun with it too by putting on a scavenger hunt where you post clues in your retail locations that prompt consumers to locate a specific item in the store, take a picture of that item using their smartphone, then post on social media, tagging your brand. At the end of the hunt, choose a winner to receive a discount on their purchase at the end of the day.
Finally, consider a promotion that gives back to the community, as according to various studies and surveys, 90 percent of consumers want to see more “responsible” products from retailers. Consider donating to a cause or organization for every in-store purchase made during your limited-time promo or hosting an animal adoption event that will bring people into your store.
Ultimately, you need to give your customers a reason to come into your store — otherwise, they can stay at home and do their shopping from there!
9. Get more customers in-store by putting your products online
Everything we’ve looked at in this article so far focuses on in-store marketing tips that you can do pretty much right now in your store. However, we do have one final tactic for you: get your in-store products online and use them to bring people into your shop.
You’re probably thinking that’d involve e-commerce or an endless process of uploading product images and descriptions onto the internet.
Or you could use a tool like Pointy.
Pointy is a retail tool that connects local searchers to stores that sell what they’re looking for.
Pointy connects to the store’s POS and puts its in-store products online alongside a live inventory so local people can see if the product they want is available. The customer can then see the store address and get directions to complete the sale.
While in-store marketing can easily slip down your list of priorities, it’s something you need to work on everyday. However, the more you put these tips into place, the more people you can convert into paying customers.
Watching them walk out of the store empty-handed will be a thing of the past; they’ll walk out with a purchase, a memorable experience, and a greater sense of brand loyalty.
Which is a total win-win — so why wouldn’t you do it?