20 Retail Marketing Ideas

by Deputy Team, 10 minutes read
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Retail marketing ideas

The ‘build it and they will come’ approach to sales no longer works for store owners. You’ll need creative retail marketing ideas to increase customer loyalty, foot traffic, and sales. You can implement traditional or on-trend retail store marketing ideas to give your business a boost. With a bit of imagination, you can find the right retail marketing idea for your store, irrespective of the size of your budget.

A properly executed marketing idea can generate additional revenue for your retail store. Thanks to social media, exciting news can travel at the speed of light to get everyone talking about your latest promotion. The good news is that the reports about the death of physical retail stores may not be as accurate as initially believed. The National Retail Federation (NRF) has found that 2017 holiday retail sales, which include in-store purchases, increased 5.5% – the strongest growth since the Great Depression.

This is a great time to make the most of consumers’ ability and willingness to spend. Given that 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience, implementing marketing ideas that attract and retain customers is non-negotiable.

If you’re undecided about where to start with retail marketing or you’d like to inject some fresh life into your current marketing strategy, here are 20 marketing ideas for retail stores that will:

  • Give you a head start on your competition
  • Keep your business relevant to your potential customers
  • Increase your sales

1. Vendor events – If you stock a popular product line, why not invite the vendor to your store to promote their products? The vendor’s rep can set up a display in-store to talk to customers about their products. The rep can give away samples of the products and answer questions. It’s in the vendor’s best interests to promote their attendance at your store. Therefore, draw up a joint marketing plan with your vendor to encourage customers to attend.

2. Product bundling – Create a bundle of products that go together and result in a discount (as opposed to buying the products individually). For example, McDonald’s customers can buy a drink, burger, and fries cheaper as a meal.

You can choose the type of product combination that will be most suitable to your sales targets. There are two bundling options:

  • Pure bundling – Where a group of products are only offered as a bundle and aren’t sold separately.

  • Mixed bundling – Where products are served as a bundle and also separately.

Irrespective of the type of bundle you choose, be sure to promote it to your customers. Highlight the savings they will make when buying a bundle as opposed to paying separately.

3. Price reduction – It’s not necessary to wait for the holidays to offer markdowns. If your store stocks seasonal products, you should think about reducing the price of last season’s goods. This retail marketing strategy will never go out of fashion because everyone loves a discount.

Take the opportunity to get rid of ‘dead stock’ to make room for new products. A clothing store can markdown winter clothes when spring and summer are approaching. Publicize your markdowns to increase your sales and to get rid of redundant inventory.

4. Customer photo contest – With 800 million monthly active users, Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms for a reason. People love taking and posting photos of themselves. Use this love of the camera as an idea to market your retail store. To make your photo contest a success, select a fun or novelty item that would draw attention.

A classic example of a photo contest is for a fast food retailer to offer an outrageously sized meal and take pictures of customers attempting to finish it. Photo entries can be displayed in the retailer’s store or online. Choose a prize, such as a free meal or a coupon for the best photo. The boutique vegan cookie company, Om Nom Nom Cookies, runs a selfie photo contest where contestants take a photo and post it on Instagram. The winner of the contest gets an Om Nom Nom Cookies branded t-shirt.

Om Nom Nom Cookies

5. Local artist nights – Integrate your retail store into the local community by hosting an event that features local performers, authors and artists. Your business will be regarded as one that benefits the community, which is always considered a positive thing.

This retail marketing idea will help develop good relationships with your local community and also enable you to use the artist’s network to promote the event and your store. Your marketing will be targeted to a new audience without breaking the bank.

6. Window displays – The power of visual merchandising to attract customers is well-documented. Window displays are a vital space to market your products. You can be as creative as you wish when decorating your window displays. You can choose a low-key theme or go all out when arranging your window.

Whatever you choose, it should be an eye-catching design that will entice your customers to enter your store.

7. Press release – Writing and distributing a press release can be a powerful retail marketing idea if executed properly. If you have a newsworthy story, tell the world about it using a press release. Your story should be fact-based and capable of causing excitement – for instance, store renovations by a well-known architect or a charity fundraising event.

Press releases can be used by new and established retailers. For instance, the online store, BeardBrand, distributed a press release to publicize its innovative take on beards. The story was picked up by the New York Times, which had a positive impact on the brand in terms of raising awareness and sales.

8. Loyalty program – Implementing a loyalty program as a marketing idea for your retail business can be as simple or complicated as you like. A simple way of implementing a loyalty program is for coffee shop owners to stamp a physical card when customers buy a coffee. In this model, the customer will get a free drink after a certain amount of stamps.

Alternately, you could integrate your loyalty program with your Point of Sale (POS) system. Vend is one of the many POS systems that offer your customers fully-automated rewards and discounts. Loyalty programs encourage your customers to keep returning to your store to spend more in return for a small gift or discount.


9. Local media – Radio stations and newspapers in your local area have a captive audience that could become your customers. Reach out to your local media outlets to let them know about the amazing things you’re doing in your store. Think about how your store is helping the local community or provide a very bizarre fact about your business.

Your pitch to your local media outlet should generate enough intrigue for them to promote your story. Spend time listening to your local radio and reading your community newspaper to find out about the stories that resonate and make sure that your pitch is the right fit.

10. In-store events – You can always find an excuse to throw a party. Holiday-themed events, like Halloween, can be a hit with your customers. You can also hold an event to celebrate a new product launch. Offering classes around the theme of your products is also a good marketing idea. Your events should provide a memorable experience so that customers will want to continue to visit your store.

11. Social media – Both online and physical stores can benefit from using social media as part of their marketing mix. Your potential customers are online, even if your business isn’t. Social media is regarded as one of the normal ways to promote your business and your customers will expect you to have a presence on a social media platform.

To get the most out of social media marketing, you need to research the platforms that are most likely to be used by your target customers. For instance, Snapchat is more popular among younger consumers and 80% of small businesses use Facebook for marketing. To prevent you becoming overwhelmed, you should take the time to master one social platform at a time. On the other hand, you could hire a social media manager if you have the budget.

12. Local businesses – Other business owners in your surrounding area have the same goal as your retail store. They want to grow their business while providing a positive customer experience. Why not combine forces with non-competing businesses to increase your spending power and customer reach?

The collaboration opportunities with local business are endless. You can cross-promote each other’s businesses by providing customer discounts for participating stores. Another way to combine resources is to pay for advertising, such as a large display ad that would be too expensive for one business to foot the bill for.

13. YouTube channel – With 87% of online marketers saying they use video content, video marketing is the fastest-growing trend. You could capitalize on your target market’s appetite to learn new skills by starting a YouTube channel. Recording videos about your product show that you’re an expert in your field. Demonstrating your knowledge using video is an effective retail marketing idea because it builds trust with your audience.

You can start a YouTube channel around virtually any retail idea. A coffee shop owner could review different types of coffee. An apparel store owner could give style tips on how to recreate catwalk looks on a budget. Use your imagination to decide how you will approach your video topics that will give you access to potentially millions of new customers.

14. Omni-channel marketing – Today’s consumers expect technology-enabled experiences in every area of their lives – from dining to shopping. Customers use mobile devices in-store to research the items they’re thinking about buying.

Incorporating multiple channels in-store can range from making mobile devices available for shoppers to browse online to interactive dressing room experiences. For example, Rebecca Minkoff, a New York City fashion retailer, is using self-checkout and smart mirrors to offer their customers a unique and multi-channel shopping experience.

15. Local fairs – Technology has not made fairs redundant. The people attending local fairs could be your ideal customers. Hiring a stall at a local fair is an effective retail marketing idea. Your store will have merchandise to sell and you can also use the relaxed atmosphere to get to know people in your local community.

If your staff will be working on your store, remind them to give great customer service to encourage the people you meet to visit your store. If you’re unable to get a stall at your local fair, you can hand out flyers with coupons to market your store.

16. Email list – Growing and nurturing an email list gives you direct access to your customers. You can email your list to keep them informed about what’s happening in your store. Be mindful of just using your email list to send promotions. Your customers want valuable information, so aim to provide useful tips and strategies as well as promoting your products.

Email marketing still has one of the highest returns on investment of any marketing technique because consumers who buy products through email spend 138% more than those who didn’t receive email offers.


17. Group discounts – You can offer group discounts to customers via your social media accounts or email lists. Your group discounts could be an offer of a free meal when someone brings three friends to eat at your restaurant.

Offering group discounts encourage your customers to introduce new people to your store. The group discounts can be available on a specific day or within a given time window so you can have better control over this retail marketing idea.

18. Support a charity – Giving back to a cause that’s important to you can benefit both the charity and your business. You can help a charity in a variety of ways. Donations and holding an event are popular methods of helping a good cause. To enable your charitable giving to double-up as a retail marketing idea, get your customers involved.

Promote a donation day, where a specified percentage of your profits for the day will be given to charity. Work with the charity so they can promote your special event to their patrons. This approach will help the charity raise more donations and also introduce new people to your store.

19. Locally-made products – Being a part of a local community is important for any retail business. The ‘buy local’ movement encourages shoppers to buy from businesses in their community. Why not do your bit to promote locally-made and sourced products? The hospitality industry uses locally-made products as a successful marketing tactic.

Boutique hotels generally source local food and drink for their restaurants to project a unique and community-focused feel. Try to identify a local vendor that could supply at least one item in your store. You should then promote that item by drawing your customer’s attention to the fact that they’re benefiting the local community when buying that item.

20. Branded apparel – Everyone wears t-shirts, so why not encourage people to wear a t-shirt with your store’s logo? T-shirt advertising is a traditional form of marketing that still works today. You can give away t-shirts as part of a contest or at a special event.

It’s likely that some people will wear your t-shirt out and about and you’ll have free advertisement of your store. It’s not only clothing retailers that can benefit from t-shirt advertising. The key is to have a cool design and logo that people would be proud to wear.

Give people a strong reason to visit your store

In order to continuously expand your customer base, you need to implement new retail marketing ideas. The 20 ideas above give you a mix of tried-and-tested and new techniques to promote your business regardless of the size of your business or the amount of money you have to spend.

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