One of the most common business models is retailing.
Retailing has been an age old business model used for many ages. It is often associated with the idea of “purchasing and supplying” or “buying and supplying” to target customers.
In the Agrarian Age where there was no technology, retail businesses boomed. You have to walk to a retail shop to make an inquiry or buy a product. There were no phones, no internet and no stable communication devices to reach the retail shops.
But in the Digital Age, things have changed!
Not only has the retail industry been flooded with a lot of competing retailers, digital technology has also transformed the way retailing is done today. But it is rather unfortunate that many retail businesses are still adamant to the digital revolution in the retail industry!
Five Groups of Retail Businesses
Let’s first start by clarifying the retailing business.
Basically, retail businesses can be classified into five groups:
- Grocery Stores
- Convenient Stores
- Specialty Stores
- General Merchandise Stores
- Non-Retail Stores
Grocery stores generally deals with bulk sales of food and house-hold related items. Grocery shops often sell non-perishable food items in cans, boxes and bottles. They also sell most of the ingredients used to prepare domestic foods. Some sell dairy, health and beauty products. They are also called “Supermarkets.”
Convenient stores sell items used on daily basis on a very small scale. They sell food items, household items, community based items, office based items and many others on a small scale. They survey their local community and stock their store with the items they need on daily basis for their everyday life. Some prefer to call them, “Provision Shops.”
Specialty stores deals with large variety of a specific product for a specific target market. Ideally, a specialty stores sell only one type of product. There are specialty stores focused on cell phones, auto parts, software programs, books, stationery, office furniture, fashion & clothing, shoes, bags, drugs etc.
General Merchandise Stores
General Merchandise Stores focused on selling “needs” rather than “wants” as in specialty stores. They sell variety of products ranging from food items, foot wares, clothing, stationery, drugs, stationery, fabrics and so on. They are actually referred to us “Shopping Centers or Shopping Malls.”
This group of retailers retail but they don’t do it in stores. They rather retail door-to-door, events, seminars, by order, by mail, internet and so on. They often focus on retailing a specific kind of product which could be beauty, health, cell phones, computers, food items and so on.
Get Brilliant with the Basics
Digital marketing is not a magic bullet. Social media, email, website, mobile, WhatsApp and all those stuff are not magic bullets to transform your retail business. To succeed in every business, including retail you have to be brilliant with the basics of marketing.
To use digital marketing to promote your retail business, you have to do your homework! You have to do your homework!
There are two basics you must get brilliant with:
- Target Marketing
- Brand Positioning
Identify Your Ideal Target Market
Marketing is all about customers. It must start and end with your customers. And if you don’t have a clear buyer persona for your retail business, you will struggle to use digital marketing to promote your retail business.
Your retailing business is already attracting some people to it. You have to conduct a market survey to find out who your customers are really. Then and then can digital marketing supports your retail business.
To start with, here are 12 questions you should ask to identify your ideal target customers.
- What kind of work do they do?
- What makes them buy from you rather than others?
- What is their social and financial status?
- Where do they live?
- Where do they hang around online?
- Which social media platforms do they like?
- Where do they hangout around on internet?
- Which brands/companies do they buying from?
- Who do they listen to when making buying decisions related to your products?
- How do they look for products related to your nitch?
- What are the things your customer likes?
- What are the things that your customer dislikes?
By answering these 12 questions you will have a clear picture of the people that your business is already attracting. Once you’ve got the picture, you can either develop the market to attract more of these people or you redesign your business to meet the needs/wants of another retail market.
You can use questionnaires, surveys either online or offline to answer these questions and then finally develop a clear description of who your ideal customer is.
Once you have develop a clear understanding of who your target market is, why he/she buys from you and where he/she can be found both offline and online, you have to dig into your business and position it to attract the target market.
Position Your Brand to Attract Your Target Market
Your brand is neither your logo nor the nice designs. It is much more than that. Your brand is actually the reputation of your business in the market place. Your brand is how your target customer views, thinks and perceives your business.
You build your brand based on three things:
- Your Core Purpose
- Your Core Values
- Specific Benefits
Your Core Purpose
Your core purpose is the original reason for establishing your business. It is the original intent for the existence of your business. It is the main reason for which your business was established. Ideally every business exists to find and keep customers. If a business cannot do that, then it’s out!
The core purpose of your retail business must be focused on filling a perceived need of your customers. When you are in a retail business, what you sell is not what matters—but how you sell what your sell.
People can buy the product anywhere. But what is the reason why they should buy from you? You have to identify that reason—the primary reason customers buy or will buy from you. Then you have to test, experiment and define the core purpose of your retail business.
In Built To Last, Jim Collins & Jerry I. Porras talked extensively about core values. Every business must have a set of core values that are founded upon the core purpose of the business and your ideal target market.
Your core values must be based on your customer surveys. Identify six core values and clarify them. Core values such as “Excellent Customer Care,” “Fantastic Delivery” and all others are examples. But your core value must be uniquely suited to your core purpose and your target customers.
What specific benefits will your customers get after buying from you? What specific benefits are associated with your retail business that your customer will know you for? What specific benefits beyond the product will your customers get after dealing with you?
Identify the specific benefits upon which you want to position your business. Then go back to design and market those benefits. Marketing is all about making a promise that nobody dares to make and then developing your operations to deliver that promise every time.
7 Digital Marketing Tactics to Promote Your Business
Only after you have done your homework should you think about how to use digital marketing to promote your retail business. Your plan will not work if you have not done your homework. Your digital marketing tactics must be focused on your target market and your brand positioning.
Well, so here are 7 ways to use digital marketing to promote your retail business—either you are a grocery, specialty, general merchandise, convenient or a non-store retailing shop.
- Start With Your Local Search Marketing Campaign
If you want to go-digital, then you have to go-social and go-Google.
So you must first start with your local search marketing campaign. You want to get yourself out there on the internet. Because you can’t use digital marketing to promote your retail business if you are not in the game!
If you can afford a website, set up a website for your business. Add your website and other business descriptions to local business directories and claim your listing on Google My Business. Create Instagram, Facebook, Twitter & Linkedln Pages for your local retail business. When you do these things people can find you on Google as well as social media platforms.
- Start Creating Content for Your Retail Business
If you’re in retail business, you still have an area of expertise—fast delivery, home delivery, affordable pricing, discount pricing, quality products, good customer service, high customer experience—whatever it may be. You must discover your retail expertise and woven it into your digital marketing.
Once you identify your unique selling preposition—your competitive advantage—then it must become the central theme for all your digital marketing campaigns. It must also be rooted in your core value and core purpose.
Create contents and start sharing them on your, retail blog, retail website, news sites, retail Facebook Groups, retail WhatsApp groups and all social media platforms. If you’re into health, create health contents. If you’re into clothing, create clothing contents. Your contents must attract your target market and entice them to do business with you—it must not necessarily be promotional.
So what kind of content must you create?
- Customer testimonials
- Retails industry news
- Retail infographics/photos
- Tips and advice
- Keep in Touch & Engage Your Retail Customers
How do you promote repeat sales from your retail customers? By keeping in touch with them, engaging with them and giving them more. If you’re going to keep in touch with your customers, then you must take their contact details after each purchase.
Use a CRM System to keep all the details of your retails customers or any preferred storehouse of customer database. Use email, SMS and WhatsApp to keep in touch with your customers. Send updates about promos, discount purchases, new offers, advice, tips, news and many others.
Share your contents with them! Create friends of your business page and add your customers to the list. You can do that on Facebook/WhatsApp or Email List. Ensure you keep in touch with your customers or your competitors will!
Use any form of medium to keep communicating with your customers and prospective customers weekly. Don’t just sell to a customer and then all is gone. Every customer must be sold to repeatedly over over again!
- Use Social Media to Drive Traffic to Your Retail Store
You need foot traffic, orders and sales to make your retail business successful. Your customers are already on social media networking platforms. Identify the social media platforms that your target customers hang around the most.
Find out what they like, when they come online and how they engage on social media. Then use your social media page to engage and drive traffic to your local store. How do you drive traffic from social media to your local store?
- Promote a context on social media for a prize and let people register for free at your local store.
- Plan exclusive events at your retail store and launch the campaign on social media.
- Promote limited and only available items on social media.
- Promote coupons on social media and let people register to take their coupons at the store.
- Promote a free gift for shopping at your store and advertise it on social media.
- Promote a referral program and give out gifts for customers to refer people to your store.
- Use Social Media Messaging Platforms for Customer Support
Many small retail businesses have no customer support. They just sell their products, forgetting that their main product is not what they sell—but how they sell what they sell. They don’t provide customer support to handle and deal with customer related problems so that they can keep customers.
Use Facebook, Web Live Chat, Instagram, LinkedIn, WhatsApp or Twitter to start providing customer support to your retail clients so that they can keep coming to your shop over and over again. Find out issues bothering their minds, their comments, complaints and all that stuff.
Deal with customer issues in professional manner and you will keep your retail customers coming again and again. Don’t assume things. Amazon has become successful as an internet based retail firm because they are customer-centric!
- Join Local Business Groups And Network with Strategic Partners
To take your retail business to the next level, you must join local business groups and network with strategic partners. May be you focus on selling health and beauty products, but then the customers you are looking for are already buying from beauticians or hair stylists.
You have to network with beauticians and hairstylists. You have join groups—online or offline—and then begin to build relationship with strategic partners to promote your retail business. Look at your ideal customers and find out which people are already selling to them.
Use WhatsApp, Facebook, LinkedIn or whatever it may be to connect with other business owners selling to your target market. Use Meet Up to find our local events and programs at your local area. Attend those events and network with strategic partners. You never know what might happen through those business relationships.
- Develop an& Delivery Local System
Looking at your retail business, can you develop a system for people to order online and you deliver to them. Analyze your business and see if you can improve upon your product delivery system. Is there any way you can make customers order online and you deliver locally?
In most cases customers may be too busy and not come to your local store because they have too many things to attend to. So if you can invent a digital based order processing and convenient delivery channel locally it will skyrocket your business.
How do you process orders online?
- You can use your Facebook Page to process orders
- You can set up an order processing page on your website
- You can set up an online store on your website
- You can use WhatsApp to process orders
- You can build an app for your retail business
- You can use email marketing to process orders
Whatever be the case, develop a system whereby you can speed up the time customers make orders and find a better way to deliver their goods to them so that you can increase sales and make your retail business to boom.
Do you want to use digital marketing to promote your retail business?
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Francis Sabutey is the founder and CEO of Think Expand. He is an author, digital entrepreneur, digital marketer, top-notch blogger, and a social media strategist. He and his team works with local businesses and organizations to use digital marketing to attract more customers and build strong brands. To reach him, shoot an email to email@example.com or call/WhatsApp +233548334499.