The SMB Guide to Retail Promotions

eCommerce sales have outpaced brick-and-mortar store growth, but effective retail promotions will help you compete with online goliaths.

The weather is getting warmer and school’s almost over for the year. SMBs are shifting gears for summer months, lining the shelves with warm weather merchandise. Customers are ready for some fun in the sun, but they’re looking for deals to affordably stock up for summer camp and trips to the beach.

eCommerce sales have outpaced brick-and-mortar store growth, but effective retail promotions will help you compete with online goliaths. It’s important to focus on your existing customer base because marketing experts agree that it’s less expensive to retain customers than it is to acquire new ones. How much exactly? According to the Harvard Business Review, it ranges from 5 to 25 times more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to generate repeat business.

Brick-and-mortar stores still have the upper hand over online competitors when it comes to instant gratification and the face-to-face service experiences that shoppers crave. Supercharge these advantages by combining them with effective retail promotions that draw in foot traffic, giving customers can’t-miss reasons for wanting to shop in your store.

  1. Discount promotions: It’s natural to think that the easiest way to give sales figures a boost is to run discount promotions however, it’s important to ensure there’s enough long-term value to justify the short-term discount. Bundling is a great way to encourage shoppers to spend more money. Couple related items for a discount—for example, purchase a beach towel and get a bottle of sunscreen for 50% off. Partnering less popular items at full price with discounted best sellers is a smart way to move inventory quickly while still earning a profit.
  1. Utilize “free” in your promotions: Free items or small “tokens of affection” can go a long way toward making shoppers feel their business is appreciated. Customers are more likely to return to your store if they feel they are being rewarded for buying items they need or value, so “buy one, get one free” can inspire shoppers to stock up. This is especially effective for special event-related merchandise that’s headed for the markdown bin after the season is over. Retail promotions such as “purchase a $100 gift card and get a $10 gift card free,” are also popular because consumers feel like they are getting a bonus with their purchase.
  1. Coupons, coupons, coupons: Coupons are a great way to get people to try new products at a lower price, and if the product lives up to expectations, pay full price the next time. In addition, coupons like “spend $50 and take $10 off” give people an incentive to buy a few more items to reach the $50 goal, and let the shopper choose which items to purchase. Merchants can use their POS solutions to reduce the cost of printing coupons by generating offers in-store. Printing coupons on receipts allows you to reach a higher percentage of shoppers because you can be sure the customer receives it, and it gives your sales associates an additional opportunity to engage customers before they leave the store.
  1. Limited-time-only retail promotions: Discounts or items that are only available for a short amount of time creates scarcity and a sense of urgency to purchase. For example, flash sales that happen between certain hours will force people to purchase in that time frame. Daily deals give the perception that the deal will last only as long as the items are in stock. Use these tactics to your advantage with summer deals.

Although the retail landscape is competitive, SMBs can employ smart retail promotions to help attract new shoppers and retain their customer base. Coupons, free products, discounts, and limited-time-only sales can make an already-great, in-store shopping experience too irresistible to pass up.

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