A well-defined retail business strategy—a plan to promote your products and increase sales—goes well beyond creating promotional materials. It ties together online and offline marketing efforts across various channels for product promotion.
The aim is simple: to offer customers a memorable experience at each point of their shopping journey with you. This way, you can encourage them to buy from you, become loyal customers, and spread the word about their purchase. Here’s how retail marketing strategies can improve your business’s health and profits.
10 retail strategies for your shop
- Curb appeal
- Video marketing
- Social media marketing
- Community building
- Retail packaging
- Event marketing
- Direct mail
- Email marketing
- Loyalty program
- Influencer marketing
Begin with market research to understand your target customers. Then, select a strategy based on your customers’ preferences and your business model to drive brand awareness and sales. Here are the retail business strategies to choose from:
1. Curb appeal
Curb appeal is the look and feel of your retail store, which contributes significantly to growing your store’s foot traffic—the first step in encouraging sales from existing and new customers.
If you have a physical location, make sure your signs are well-written, persuasive, and have a clear and engaging message. For instance, if there is a special weekend promo, capture the attention of passersby with a snappy headline that can be read within seconds, easy-to-read fonts, illumination or balloons, and a call to action.
Another way to attract customers is to create an eye-catching retail display that invites people into your store. NPD Group research found appealing window retail displays encourage purchases an average of 24% of the time.
Even if you have an online business, you can still improve your virtual curb appeal. Consider designing online stores that are easy to navigate to make it effortless for potential buyers to browse and shop products.
As you make creative changes to improve curb appeal for your ecommerce and brick-and-mortar stores, be sure to track its impact. Is it bringing in more foot traffic? Are people buying more of the products in your window display? For your ecommerce store, how are the new design changes helping to increase site traffic and conversion rates?
2. Video marketing
Video marketing is a type of content marketing that involves creating videos that talk about your products and problems your target market experiences. Doing so positions you as a trustworthy authority in your field, which generates brand awareness and sales. In fact, 89% of people say watching a video convinced them to buy a product or service, according to a survey by Wyzowl.
When starting your own video marketing, choose a video-first platform like TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube. Whichever one you choose, study it to understand what types of videos perform well, then plan and record your content.
Existing brick-and-mortar retail stores can benefit from leveraging this type of marketing. Consider expanding online—if you don’t already have a presence—and offering brand videos or vlogs to help build or strengthen your brand, and drive in-store sales.
Don’t forget to select and track your performance metrics based on your goals (brand awareness, community building, or sales). Metrics might include view rate and “video played to,” which assess the percentage of video watched.
3. Social media marketing
But does it work? Yes, according to the 43% of consumers, as cited by The Influencer Media Factory’s 2024 Social Commerce report, who have bought products on social media in the past year. Examples of brands that have used social media to build brand discovery, engagement, and sales include The Ridge Wallet, Frida Baby, and Frank Body.
To tap into social media marketing, start off by creating a social media strategy that defines your:
- Social media channels
- Content plan
- Growth plan for each channel
Not sure what to share on social media as a retailer? Some ideas might include sharing product pictures, behind-the-scenes content, customer testimonials, and educational content like this post on Lume Deodorant's Instagram:
4. Community building
Community building involves strengthening relationships with potential and existing customers to earn their trust. In turn, the trust generates sales, drives word-of-mouth referrals, and earns customer loyalty.
The best part? Retail store owners can build community online—and offline. Apparel brand Knix, for example, brings its community together through members sharing their postpartum stories in a photography series called the Life After Birth Project.
Another idea is to host retail events like Lululemon does—offering free weekly in-store yoga classes. In fact, the sports apparel retailer also hosts an online yoga video library to teach its community yoga online.
Start small and expand from there—for example, kick off with an online community or dedicate a corner of your store space to community-building activities. Then, move to hosting events as you find success with this retail strategy. And remember to take a customer-first approach, listening to feedback and adapting to the needs of your customers.
5. Retail packaging
Use branded retail packaging to create a memorable unboxing experience that encourages repeat sales and generates word-of-mouth and social shares.
Tiffany & Co. is a prime example of effectively using retail packaging to grow product recognition. As customers share its signature blue boxes on their social accounts, the jewelry retailer gains additional brand exposure.
Instead of going all in at the beginning with your packaging launch, though, create prototypes of your packaging to test-run it for any inconsistencies or flaws. When you’re satisfied with the results, commit to large-scale production.
6. Event marketing
This strategy involves using events to promote your product while engaging with your customers. Since event marketing focuses on in-person interactions, it’s most common for brick-and-mortar retailers.
But online retailers can also leverage event marketing by partnering with other brands to open pop-up shops, as women’s personalized beauty and wellness retailer Beautyque did. The beauty brand held a New York City pop-up to interact with its target market and create memorable experiences, before opening its flagship store in 2023.
Interestingly, in a 2021 Mosaic/Event Marketer survey, 40% of consumers felt their loyalty to a retail business grew after attending its events and experiences. Besides increasing brand loyalty, event marketing can also boost sales and brand discovery.
However, an effective event marketing strategy starts off with clear, realistic goals. Knowing what you aspire to achieve with your events make it easier for you to create a plan to reach that goal and track performance. For instance, when aiming to increase sales, you could offer a custom discount code and track how many people used it.
7. Direct mail
Direct mail is an offline retail business strategy that both brick-and-mortar and online retailers can tap into. It involves sending brochures, handwritten notes, postcards, catalogs, and other physical, promotional marketing materials to past and potential customers.
For example, advertising services platform PostPilot reported that BOOM! By Cindy Joseph, an online pro-age cosmetics and skin care brand, experienced a 2,600% return on investment (ROI) with its direct mail campaign. The campaign targeted customers who hadn’t bought anything for at least 35 days.
Begin your direct mail strategy by identifying which customers you want to target with your campaign—all past customers, or past customers who haven’t shopped in a defined time period. Next, design a campaign to re-engage them—initially targeting a small sample to gauge response.
The key to positive results is making sure that you integrate this marketing channel with your current campaigns to create a cohesive marketing experience for your local business. And don’t forget: A prominent call to action (CTA) goes a long way in encouraging potential and current customers to buy from you.
8. Email marketing
Email marketing revolves around using email to engage and keep in touch with potential buyers and customers, making it another effective channel for customer retention and acquisition.
Expand your email list by collecting customer contact information during checkout using Shopify POS. Pair this with launching a sticky bar (an announcement bar that shows up at the top or bottom of your website and invites site visitors to join your email list) and personalized quizzes on your online store. Turn to customer segmentation and automated campaigns to send a personalized and relevant welcome, as well as promotional emails, automatically.
Also, regularly review email metrics like subscriber count, open rates, and click-through rate to track and improve performance.
9. Loyalty program
Customer loyalty programs are programs designed to reward customers for making repeat purchases. This customer retention approach includes tiered plans, as well as points- and value-based programs.
Magnetic lashes and press-on nails brand Glamnetic, for example, encourages customers to earn and redeem points for free products and exclusive discounts through its loyalty program.
These programs not only grow customer loyalty but also increase average order value, referrals, and brand advocacy.
Begin by talking to your loyal customers to learn what benefits or incentives would turn them into repeat customers. Use this information to create a sales-driving loyalty program.
10. Influencer marketing
Influencer marketing pairs a brand with influencers that your target audience trusts. The goal is to:
- Establish your credibility
- Increase brand awareness
- Grow your social following and engagement
- Drive sales
In fact, the American Marketing Association reported 74% of consumers agree that recommendations from people they know encouraged them to buy a product, making a solid case for all retailers to tap into this retail strategy.
To launch your first influencer campaign, find niche influencers whose following aligns with your target audience. Do this by searching hashtags on social media. Alternatively, use a tool like Shopify Collabs to find and collaborate with the right influencers for your brand.
Here, Athletic Greens shows how the brand paired with niche influencers—health, wellness, and fitness TikTokers—to promote its nutritional supplements among health-conscious Gen Zers:
Retail business strategy FAQ
What role does pricing play in a retail business strategy?
Your pricing strategy plays a vital role in setting your brand’s perceived value in your target audience’s eyes. For example, your average product price and discounts influence whether your products are thought-of as high-end, mid-range, or budget buys.
How can a retail business adapt its strategy to changing market conditions?
A retail business can adapt by keeping tabs on evolving customer and market trends to understand which are currently dominating. Conduct surveys and focus groups, and regularly talk to customers to gauge their shopping preferences and get feedback on emerging trends—then, change or refine your business strategy accordingly.
What are some key performance indicators (KPIs) for measuring retail business success?
Can a retail business have the same strategy as its competitors and still be successful?
The success of a retail business depends on how well it can execute its strategy—even if it’s similar to competitors. At each step in your customer’s journey, make sure to measure your success through predefined retail metrics and by talking to your customers to better understand what tactics are resonating.