Window Display

In-Store Retail Marketing: Proven Strategies

Danielle Collard
7 Nov 2022

It's no secret that retail is a tricky business. To succeed, retailers must constantly innovate and find new ways to market their businesses. One way that many retailers are finding success is by focusing on in-store marketing and coming up with fresh retail promotional strategies.

So far as retail marketing strategies go, in-store marketing has not received much attention in recent years. Journalists and business leaders never seem to cease commenting on the changing momentum of brick-and-mortar stores and the impact of eCommerce on the high street. 

Consequently, digital marketing for retail, as well as influencer marketing and many other newer, often cheap forms of advertising solutions, have been receiving all the plaudits.

Nevertheless, the customer experience remains crucial, and making changes can help attract customers or turn them into repeat customers. Therefore, a retail marketing strategy that fails to incorporate the in-house experience misses out on an essential part of the retail strategy.

What makes in-store marketing different

In-store marketing differs from other kinds of marketing in that it focuses on the customer's experience in the store itself. 

This means that retail marketers need to think about things like store layout, product placement, and customer service. An effective in-store marketing strategy will consider all of these factors and use them to create a positive customer experience that will ultimately lead to more sales.

Even so, in-store marketing isn’t just about placing products in strategic locations or making sure the store is clean and well-lit. These fundamentals of running a retail store are the kind every retailer practices as part of day-to-day trading.

However, they can become part of your retail marketing efforts when you design them in such a way that you create an emotional connection with the customer. You can do this in several ways: visual, aural, olfactory, using every sense and advanced sales technique to advertise and impress upon the customer the kind of business you are.An emotional connection with the customer is important because it can make them more likely to return to the store. 

The benefits of in-store marketing

There are many benefits that come with investing in in-store marketing. From informing customers about the different services you offer to persuading hesitant spenders to fill their baskets, an in-store marketing campaign has a number of benefits sure to drive sales in the right direction.

Boost sales

First, it can help to increase sales in the short term. This is because customers who have a positive experience in the store are more likely to make a purchase. 

In fact, studies have shown that customers regularly spend more than intended when shopping in-store: 40% of the time. This is 15% higher than when shopping online[1]

Impulse shopping occurs when customers feel good, so an effective retail marketing strategy for the aisles of your store can help capitalize on these kinds of opportunities.

Target customers and create brand loyalty

In-store marketing can help to build brand loyalty. This is because when customers have a positive experience in the store, they are more likely to remember the brand and come back in the future.

Retail stores that advertise all their services, promotions, and brand benefits show themselves at their best, making it more likely customers will think of them before competitors. Such marketing ensures that customers know what you offer, so you target any potential buyer in a persuasive and engaging manner.

Engage and inform customers

In-store marketing can help to engage customers and encourage them to spend more time in the store. This is important because the longer customers spend in the store, the more likely they will purchase[2]. Having signed areas around the store can help pique interest in different displays and inspire the customer into making those extra purchases and raise the time they spend with you.

But informing your customers about your products doesn't just help you maximize sales. It also improves the image of the business. Signs, displays, promotions, and considered layout add color and life to your brick-and-mortar store. A retail business implementing an in-store marketing strategy will naturally improve the store's appearance.

Displays also help customers navigate the shop floor. Big, bright signs show customers where they are and help them find what they need. The bigger your retail business is, the more of an impact this has.

Encourage foot traffic

The sum of retail marketing that inspires extra purchases, improves engagement and customer retention, and makes your store more navigable is greater footfall. When customers enter a business and wander the aisles, finding new products and reading displays, they enjoy themselves! And if customers enjoy themselves, they'll come to love your business and come back, maybe even with friends and family.

In-store marketing strategies can thus get people through the door more regularly. While SMS marketing and online sales have their own benefits, every retailer wants to see a packed shop floor with staff making sales and chatting with people.

Retail marketing for an improved experience

Different approaches to marketing gain different results. Obtaining new customers is difficult if people aren't coming through the door, but retaining existing customers once they come through depends on retail marketing that focuses on the in-store experience. So below, we've compiled a list of tips for encouraging customers as they move through your business.

Window displays

Your retail window display is the shop's equivalent of a magazine cover. It needs to be eye-catching and attractive enough to make people want to come in and see more!

Anyone that's ever seen the 1987 classic film Mannequin will have seen how much attention a good window display can bring to a business. Window displays for many industries, particularly fashion, have become a key way a retailer can show status, prestige, and position themselves in the market.

Basic principles for your window display

  • Simplicity. A busy or cluttered display can be off-putting for customers. Keep it clean and simple, with just a few key products on show. The saying "less is more" can certainly help with your display, as a well-designed, understated backdrop can put greater focus on the smaller number of items on show.
  • Cohesion. All the elements of the display should tie in together. This includes the colors, style, and theme. While you may sell many different kinds of products in-store, you can't advertise all of them in your shop window without confusing and overwhelming the viewer. Choose a select group of products to create your display. These could be products that sell well as a group (e.g., a stationary set or a full outfit for a clothing store) or a range of products from which a customer might choose one (such as a selection of fountain pens or a series of stylish tops).

Change. Don't be afraid to change up your retail window display regularly. While putting everything in your window at once can reduce the impact of the display, swapping things out can help you show the range and variety on offer nicely. This will keep things fresh for customers and help you promote different products at different times. You can swap out an Autumn display for Halloween, which can quickly become a Winter or Black Friday marketing display. When it comes to retail marketing ideas, the calendar can often inspire regular change. Just look at any major retailer's Christmas marketing strategy for readymade inspiration.

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Why window displays can make a difference

From Oxford Street, London, to the Tokyo city center to the bright lights of Manhattan, the world's prime retail real estate owners get tens of thousands of shoppers passing their storefronts daily. Unsurprisingly then, retailers will research what makes as many potential customers come inside as possible.

Though your business may not see quite so much passing traffic, your window display can passively accumulate new customers as they walk by. Even window shoppers, who might travel past with no intent on purchasing that same day, can be marketed to as you build brand and product awareness.

Ideas to spice up your window display

  1. Tell a story. This is one of the most effective retail window display ideas. A story helps customers engage with the products and grow attached enough to purchase. It could be as simple as a boy looking up at a kite in your shop window, leading the viewer's eye around the rest of the display. The story or narrative does not have to focus on just the products. Your window display could promote an idea or cultivate an image of the business itself. Some retailers put information about the history of the business in the window.
  2. Use technology. Video monitors, QR codes, and other digital elements can all bring your retail display to life in a way that wasn't possible before. You can use these technologies to show off short clips or advertisements. Many passers-by, young and old, will pause to watch an active screen showing anything from your products being used, worn, eaten, etc.
  3. Place products at eye level. A well-lit window display can show your best products at their very finest and help make them even more popular. Retail marketing doesn't always have to be complicated; you want people to see the products in your window display, so placing them at eye level can help ensure this happens. Think about the average height of your target market. If you have products you hope children will want, place them below those targeting adult men or women. Either way, give the product space, light, and a backdrop that helps it stand out!

In-store displays

Much like your window display, in-store displays can catch the attention of people already in-store and can inspire additional purchases of popular products. An in-store display should be designed to achieve the specific goals of your marketing initiative. This could include driving new product sales, promoting seasonal items, or increasing awareness of your loyalty program.

Some ideas for how to use in-store displays:

Use shelves and racks

Shelves and racks can be an effective way to show off products and help people easily find what they are looking for. You can display multiple related products to show an available range clearly and simply, with prices, features, and color options all on show. Be sure to keep the products well-lit and organized attractively, just as you would for a window display.

Keep the display well-stocked

Though they may be selling like hotcakes, try to keep your display as close to full stock as possible, with multiple top-ups throughout the day. Though some may think this counter-intuitive as it could suggest non-selling products, shoppers prefer a well-stocked shelf to a diminished one. The products look new and exciting, and the display never looks better than when it has that pristine, untouched quality.

Use props and accessories

Props and accessories can help retail displays come to life. If you are selling clothes, mannequins can show off how the products look when worn. For food items, bowls or plates can be used to show portion size or possible uses for the product. Be sure not to go overboard with too many props though. Simplicity still helps offset your products nicely.

Use free samples

Many retail marketing strategies utilize free samples to give people a taste of what they are selling. This is particularly effective for food items but can work for other products as well. For example, if you sell perfume, offer potential customers a sample to try before buying. These kinds of samples provide customers with confidence in their purchases and improve the brand image as well as customer experience.

In most cases, the free sample will not be particularly expensive. Nevertheless, being willing to provide something for free visits the store fun and makes browsing much more pleasurable. Even if you're not selling food or perfume (or clothes that can be tried on and resold without issue), giving access to your product shows confidence that you can make sales after use and are not trying to hide the quality (or lack thereof) that you provide.

A free sample or "try before you buy" tells consumers you're certain they'll love what you sell.

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In-store events

Organizing in-store events is another retail marketing strategy that can help increase foot traffic as well as sales. Events such as product demonstrations and meet-and-greets with local celebrities and figures associated with the community or the business can attract people who may not have come into the store otherwise.

Product demonstrations can also help increase customer engagement, entice customers into making additional purchases, and promote other services that the business offers. Just as free samples show confidence in your product, demonstrations can increase confidence as well as provide potential customers with an opportunity to learn more about what you're selling and how to use it.

Demonstrations also have the added benefit of being interactive, which can make them more memorable for possible customers. If your product is particularly complicated or has many features, a demonstration can be an essential part of retail marketing.

When planning an event:

  1. Keep your target audience in mind. In-store events convert customers to the business, but if you bring in people only interested in the business for the event, then they won't stay with you. Ensure the event will interest an audience appropriate to your business.
  2. Make sure the event is relevant to what you're selling. Targeting applies to products as much as the wider business. An event can be used to drum up interest in specific products, creating an image of them associated with the event and any visiting figures.
  3. Plan for traffic and safety. If you're expecting a large number of visitors at any one time, you'll need a plan to ensure comfort and safety. Disabled access, marshalls for larger events, and extra staff to serve more customers while managing the event itself will be essential.
  4. Promote, promote, promote! Retail marketing comes in many forms and often needs to be used in a manner that complements other strategies. Your business could use SMS retail marketing, email marketing for retail, and send out promotional and valuable content about the business. You could also use social media marketing and marketing online on a website and through partners. If you're running an event, talk about it in as many places as possible to widen your net and bring in as many new faces as you can!

Shelf design and maintenance

The look of your store shelves can also impact retail marketing. In many cases, customers will make a decision about whether or not to purchase an item based on how it is displayed. This is especially true for food items, but even products such as clothing and cosmetics can be influenced by shelf design.

There are a few things to keep in mind when designing shelves. The layout of your shelves should be easy to understand and follow. Customers should be able to see what they need and where it is without difficulty. 

Group similar products together so that customers can find what they're looking for more easily. This also helps with up-selling and cross-selling, as customers will be able to see complementary products that they may not have considered otherwise.

It's also important to keep your shelves clean and organized. Customers are less likely to purchase items from a messy or cluttered shelf. Make sure there is no expired product on the shelves and that product pricing and labelling are clear and obvious. Bring products forward to the front of the shelf to make the aisles look full and enticing.

However, having a large number of promotions with colorful, eye-catching shelf labels is when your shelves really become part of your in-store retail marketing strategies. Some businesses like to run just one or two promotions at a time, making them more manageable. But with modern POS system automation of promotions and the easier management they bring, there's no reason the aisles of your stores can't handle multiple promotions that can transform the way your aisles look.

Take supermarkets for an example. Most product lines supermarkets sell have pricing labels that show reduced pricing, BOGOF or buy 2 get the next free offers. This makes the store appear to provide the best value and makes consumers want to scour every aisle for the best deals, making numerous additional purchases.

Marketing through your staff

Your team of staff can set your retail store apart. They should be incorporated into every part of the business and can market your products as well as your window display or events. If there's a certain product you want to push, have your team upsell to customers whenever they speak to them.

Ensure your staff is well informed on products so that each time they interact with people in-store, they are able to ask questions about what the customer needs, might be interested in, or can make recommendations.

Quick, throwaway lines like "The winter coats have been flying off the shelves lately" may seem innocuous and can easily be brought into the conversation, but the idea of popularity sticks in the customer's mind even if they hadn't been thinking about making that purchase.

Checkout offers

Every retailer looks to place the best impulse buys next to the checkout. That way, no customer can make other purchases without being exposed to those products deemed most likely to be added to their basket. In-store marketing means thinking beyond which products you place there and also about how you position them, display them, and advertise them.

This can be incorporated into your staff marketing strategy, having the team mention them as they make other sales. But if displayed well, with standout signage, bold prints, and a good deal, there's every chance your customer will already have added it to their purchases.

Using your POS reporting to determine which products sell best at checkout can help optimize this process. Sales and customer data can be split by date, time of day, employee sales, and more, so you can always know which factors are influencing sales the most and can market in-store accordingly.

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