What goes up must come down. After holiday shopping drives surges in retail sales at the end of the year, the new year inevitably opens with a sales slowdown. With the ongoing pandemic and lower overall consumer spending, retailers continue to face challenges as they look to increase customer traffic and boost sales. For many, it’s time to think outside the box and go beyond discounting prices.
Smart retailers are getting creative with promotions designed to strengthen long-term customer relationships while driving increased sales volume. Here are five proven promotional strategies worth considering.
1. Don’t just sell, teach.
Today’s customers shop differently. They do their homework online, comparing options and reading reviews before they decide to purchase. As a result, retailers – especially brick-and-mortar – rely on their shopping experience to appeal to customers. Shopping experiences that go beyond a transaction to add value win customers and build loyalty. In fact, the industry has coined the term – retailtainment – to describe the above-and-beyond experiences designed to bring people into the store or keep them on an e-commerce site.
Offering classes are a highly effective example of retailtainment. Retailers are able to share their passion and add value for customers who walk away with increased knowledge, new skills, and almost certainly additional purchases. The opportunities for classes – either in-person or virtual – are endless once you start brainstorming. For example, a sewing retailer offers courses in pattern making, sewing for kids, and cross-stitch. A liquor store offers classes on wine pairings and the types of tequila. Across the range of topics, the objective is the same: Teach customers about your products or how to use them – and become their one-stop shopping destination.
Offering classes is a relatively easy way to add value. Call upon your resident experts on staff, outline the content you’ll cover, and run it by a few of your best customers for input. For managing the logistics, check into what your point-of-sale (POS) system can do. Look for features that enable you to create classes, track attendance and fees, manage instructors, and sell related course materials. Plus, some POS systems allow you to create an online calendar for easy registration and follow-up communication tools to keep participants engaged.
Related: Customer Experience Counts: How to Make Your Store A Destination
2. If you build it, they will buy.
While the experience counts, nine in ten consumers choose a retailer based on convenience. And, while convenience is a driving force behind the growth in online shopping, it also applies to traditional brick-and-mortar retailers. Building pre-packaged “everything you need” kits is a perfect way to appeal to the customer’s desire for convenience and drive increased sales at the same time. Kits – or the classic bundled sale – also provide an effective way for retailers to move slow-moving stock items without having to take deep discounts.
When building kits, mix art with science. Leverage your POS reporting data to look at what products customers typically purchase together. Then, get creative. For example, clothing retailers offer four-piece wardrobe collections or workout kits. Cosmetic retailers offer themed packages, such as travel, best-seller, or starter kits.
The secret to successful bundles is keeping an eye on your margins. The package price should definitely offer customers a discount for purchasing the bundle, but don’t overdo it. Put equal emphasis on the convenience factor. You can even give customers the option to tailor their bundle by offering choices so that customers feel like they’re getting exactly what they want – at a discount.
As you design your pre-packaged kit strategy, make sure your POS system can handle selling and tracking bundles of individual items as a single product. Having these capabilities will save you inventory management headaches down the road.
3. Get customers to opt in to repeat purchases.
Subscription offers continue to grow in popularity, with 54 percent of consumers using a subscription service. For retailers, subscription promotions make sense – when they’re deployed strategically. For example, enabling customers to subscribe to staple items that they need on a regular basis can be valuable to customers, but it could keep them from visiting your store or e-commerce site and making additional purchases.
Take subscriptions to the next level by creating an experience to go with them. For example, quilting retailers offer “block of the month” subscriptions that send customers the patterns and fabric they need to create a quilt block. At the end of the block-by-block subscription series, they have a beautiful quilt. Or wine merchants offer a wine of the month subscription service that also includes exclusive subscriber-only offers for purchasing additional bottles or complementary products.
Behind the scenes, the key to subscription success is a POS system that enables recurring billing, which is the ability to automate and bill groups of customers on an ongoing basis.
Related: 4 Retail Marketing Strategies that Turn Buyers into Loyal Customers
4. Inspire loyalty.
Loyalty programs are a staple for retailers because they work. Eighty-three percent of consumers say they’re more likely to make repeat purchases because of a loyalty program, with 49 percent acknowledging they spend more after signing up for a program.
While discounts are the foundation of loyalty programs, today’s programs go beyond savings for participating customers. Build tiers into your reward program that customers can achieve over time based on purchases. Not only will this help create repeat purchases, but it will also create distinct customer segments that you can track and target. Along with achievement tiers, deliver exclusive insider access for your loyalty program members, such as sneak previews of new items or access to special events.
Be sure to integrate your rewards program within your POS system. This gives you the ability to deliver rewards as customers earn them. Plus, when the rewards information is easily accessible at checkout via the POS system, the salesperson handling the transaction can let the customer know how close they are to their next reward, perhaps incenting them to add to their purchase in order to qualify on the spot.
Related: Is Your Customer Loyalty Program Working Hard for Your Business?
5. Pair up with a partner.
Finally, if you’re looking to amp up any of the above, identify opportunities to add to the promotion by pairing up with another complementary business. Whether it’s classes, kits, subscriptions, or loyalty program events, your customers will appreciate the addition of complementary products or offers.
Tap into your understanding of customers’ needs and preferences to guide your outreach and selection of vendors to partner with. Then make sure that the promotion works for both your business and your vendor partner’s business. Once you start brainstorming, you’re likely to have several options to choose from. For example, apparel retailers pair with local restaurants for a lunch and shop offer for loyalty program members. Pet stores partner with local veterinarians to deliver educational classes for customers. Or craft stores combine a crafting event with a wine tasting.
Mix and match these promotional strategy ideas to come up with what best fits your customers and drives increased traffic. And look to POSIM – a point-of-sale and inventory management system that’s designed to help retailers succeed and grow. Click here to learn more about what’s possible with POSIM and contact us for a demo today.