Assortment Planning – The Holy Grail of Merchandising

With retail transitioning into a consumer-driven business faster than ever, issues like determining the best product mix and inventory size are of strategic importance to a retailer looking to cash in at the e-commerce platforms. Assortment planning perhaps plays an even bigger role today than ever with ever-shortening lead times and year-round discounts.

Which begs the million-dollar question:

How do retailers of today decide the right mix for their stores?

Do they turn to historical sales data? Maybe go with what the customers expect? Play to brand’s identity and hope it’s enough?

If they stock too much variety, they may lack focus and create confusion among their customers. Not being clear on the store’s identity can alienate customers and negatively impact repeat sales. If the product mix is limited or narrow, there is always a looming risk of being dominated by a competitor who has a better inventory mix or size.

Often, hitting the sweet spot for a brand gets tricky. Figuring out what products to sell and which to leave out of the assortment requires some fine tuning. While there has been significant improvement with a customer-centric approach in the age of social media marketing and instant feedbacks, retailers are still fighting to make headway when it comes to merchandise planning- a set of interlinked decisions made months ahead of the collection’s preview.

Key factors to consider

With a product-centric approach deeply engraved in their nature, retailers are understandably having difficulty hitting the jackpot. The answer lies in key factors like brand identity, category weight, market trends, and price range. Each provides a clue to the mystery, coupled with tangible information from the marketing department (number of products per order, response rates, etc).

Since there is no crystal ball in retail (except as a product, maybe), how can they know what products customers will want? There are too many forks in the road ahead. They can ride the trend now and worry about the coming trends later. They can play it safe with the mainstays, stick to the tried-and-true formulae. Or, they can risk by pushing potential future winners. We’ll paint you a picture with two seemingly different examples.

The right balance between trends and staples.

Topshop, the fast fashion brand, has a fairly odd combination of totes. There are:

  • 3 versions of trend-forward styles;
  • 4 styles from the previous seasons;
  • 2 iterations of a more ‘current season’ style.

The brand’s polarizing mix usually has 2-3 colorways of every new style, as seen below.

same bag in different style

Image credit: Topshop.com

And it works, especially when it comes to the trendy stuff. One of Topshop’s main strengths was stocking trend-forward styles that simply didn’t stick around much on the shelves. The brand sold the fashionable totes like crazy, and at full prices too. That being said, older and basic styles that went out-of-stock received a 50% discount for the traditional summer clearance sale season. Considering that the average price for out-of stock items was $43 with an average discount of only $3, the brand had a pretty good June.

Topshop’s contrasting mix of styles seems to do the trick, giving the brand a ‘trendy’ tag that sticks, giving them full price sales on risqué styles. Considering how they tend to develop not more than 4 unique styles and offer them in different colors, Topshop’s assortment strategy cuts down a sizeable amount of time and risk right at the prototyping stage. The product mix appears to be more decisive and focused on propelling forward the brand image while keeping revenues steady.

Topshop - data analyzed for sales in month of june 2017

On the other hand, there is J.Crew with a more ‘classic’ brand language. The assortment here is diametrically different. Each style is represented in a unique iteration and 90% of the mix focuses on currently popular styles. There are only 3 classic or neutral styles that round off the brand’s tote lineup.

bags

The J.Crew’s assortment doesn’t quite work in its favor because of the mix of single, unique styles. With such a combination, there is too much risk. Each style poses a danger of failing to appeal to acquired tastes. Also, the fact that the product development must eat into the cost they have to maintain a mix that looks ‘trendy’ doesn’t do J.Crew any favors. This is evidenced by the fact that 80% of J.Crew styles were trending, in-vogue styles of the season but the only two out-of-stock items were older basic styles.

Still, at $83, the average price of out-of-stock items is considerably higher (almost double) than that of Topshop, as well as other fast fashion brands like Zara, H&M, and Forever21. The perception of high-quality remains intact, which only presses for the need to tweak the proportion of trending and classic styles to optimize the assortment.

JCrew data analyzed for sales in month of june 2017 -

With two opposite approaches adopted by Topshop and J.Crew, results are equally different. For a fast fashion brand, Topshop relied on a smaller number of trendy products, which, in turn, resulted in virtually non-existent discounts and sold at full prices, but had to heavily discount styles from older seasons. Whereas, J.Crew offered more seasonal trends and a small proportion of classic styles, managing to sell out only the latter.

While Topshop succeeded with trend-forward styles and cleared some old stock in the summer sales, J.Crew had to work harder to sell the hot trends, emphasizing their challenge in getting the brand perception at par with their assortment mix.

Manage assortment in real-time.

For retailers and brands, the saving grace is the real-time data analytics that helps with assortment planning. This retail intelligence tool highlights the active approach in managing assortment in real-time, allowing immediate insights into the impact of increasing or decreasing certain products from the merchandise mix, managing their visibility in the marketplace and handling discounting when the times comes for it. Once inventory is all sorted out and ready to go, price is the only lever to change, needing to be adjusted in response to the competition’s out-of-stock gaps, hot sellers or inventory depths.

With advanced retail solutions, retailers and brands can perform analysis of product revenues and various performance metrics for different SKUs across the board, as well as product categories, to use the latest information for future product launches. It’s a great help for spotting emerging trends before the competition does and capitalizing on the newfound competitive advantage. The information is also extremely useful for adapting the assortment mix to inevitable changes in the retail market.

Get hands-on with the trends.

With retail being largely driven by uncovering customer insight, the merchandising game plan changes dramatically. The data shows that trend-forward retailers are one step ahead of the rest. Their mindset is clear – focus on being more integrated with inventory planning and demand forecasts. For others, there is a certain risk in trying to level the playing field – the risk of downgrading both brand’s positioning and identity.

However, the risk is well worth taking as the opportunity for any trend-led retailer who enters this environment is huge. With the highly desirable real-time update in the background and careful analysis, there won’t be any FOMO. Retailers should be looking to fill their inventory with a carefully selected assortment that avoids items with high discounting rates and instead fill their shelves with low discounting rate and high replenishment goods. That means figuring out the right balance of trend-forward items and older classic models that are mainstays. How they achieve that is up to them but they need to do it fast in order to cover as much ground as possible before someone else claims it.

We can help you with Assortment Intelligence to make faster, data-backed merchandising decisions while you steer your business with innovative ventures. Contact us  for more information.

Grocery E-Commerce Set to Surge

Although the overwhelming majority of grocery shopping currently takes place in physical stores, experts suggest this pattern will change in the next decade, as grocery e-commerce is poised to boom in the next decade.

In the U.S., online grocery shopping could grow five-fold to $100 billion by 2025, according to new research by Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen.[i] Online grocery spending could grow from 4% in 2016 of total U.S. food and beverage sales ($20.5 billion) to as much as a 20% share ($100 billion).[ii]

Currently, a quarter of American households buy some groceries online, up from 19% in 2014, and more than 70% will embrace online food shopping within 10 years. Among consumers who say they will buy groceries using e-commerce, 60% expect to spend a quarter of their food dollars online in 10 years.[iii]

The Amazon Effect

Compared to other countries, the U.S. lags in online grocery shopping because Americans’ online shopping expectations have been set by Amazon, according to experts. U.S. consumers see online shopping as a way to buy individual items rather than baskets of goods on a regular basis.[iv]

Amazon’s disruptive approach to grocery includes a click-and-collect offering. Amazon will soon open 4 stores in Seattle and Silicon Valley where customers can pick up online grocery orders within a 15-minute to 2-hour time window. Customers can also order products in-store using electronic tablets, then wait in a “retail room” while their orders are filled.

In addition, the e-commerce giant offers Amazon Go’s checkout-free grocery shopping and Amazon Prime’s e-commerce membership platform, which includes private label groceries.[v]

Despite consumer behavior shaped by Amazon’s e-commerce dominance, the U.S. market is poised for massive growth. Experts say U.S. online grocery sales jumped 157% in 2016.[vi]

Global E-Grocery Trends

The top market for grocery e-commerce is South Korea, where online sales account for 16.6% of the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market. The top 10 markets and their estimated e-commerce share of the FMCG market are:

  1. South Korea, 16.6%
  2. Japan, 7.2%
  3. United Kingdom, 6.9%
  4. France, 5.3%
  5. Taiwan, 5.2%
  6. China, 4.2%
  7. Czech Republic, 2.1%
  8. Spain, 1.7%
  9. Netherlands, 1.7%
  10. United States, 1.4%[vii]

Shoppers Embrace Grocery E-Commerce

More than any other cohort, millennial shoppers are more willing to buy groceries online. Tech-savvy millennial shoppers seem to appreciate the convenience of retailers’ delivery and click-and-collect – buy online and pick up in store – service.[viii]

A new study by Clavis Insight shows 66% of millennials now shop online weekly for groceries. In addition, 69% of millennials purchase health and wellness products online at least once a month, and 25% make weekly purchases of pet food online.[ix]

Mobile Marketing Matters

To attract millennial shoppers, grocery retailers need to offer a seamless mobile-friendly experience, as more than 40% of millennials primarily use a mobile device for shopping.[x]

In general, 3 in 5 grocery shoppers today are looking for sales or coupons on their mobile devices before entering the store and half will use mobile apps to shop at the store.[xi]

The Business Case for Grocery E-Commerce

Shoppers generally spend more per visit when grocery shopping online than they do during a trip to a physical store. In the U.K., for example, the average online purchase is $59 compared with $15 in-store.[xii]

Consumer loyalty adds to the business case for grocery e-commerce. Kantar Worldpanel data also shows that 55% of online grocery shoppers have entrenched habits. These shoppers repeatedly buy the same brands from the same merchants.[xiii]

To compete effectively, retailers will prepare to offer online shopping. Research predicts that center store product categories, including canned goods, condiments and spices will shift faster to online than perimeter categories, like fresh produce and meats.[xiv] Consider starting small with center store categories and adding more items over time.

How to Prepare for Online Grocery Sales

Use competitive data to better understand consumer trends. For instance, Intelligence Node’s competitive data includes these insights for the UK grocery market comparing November 2016 to December 2016, where:

Competitive insights:

  • Tesco had a 78% decrease in total number of unique brands in the Bakery products category in December compared to November
  • Tesco had the most number of products that were out of stock across the food and grocery sector.
  • ASDA increased their assortment size for the drinks category by 14% in December
  • ASDA had the highest Private Label SKU count for the entire grocery catalogue. Its private label SKU count was twice of Tesco’s private label SKU count
  • 90% of the promoted products were in stock across all categories

Category insights:

    • Frozen food: In December there was an overall decrease of out of stock items by 36% in the frozen food category, and Sainsbury had the least out of stocks
    • Wine: For the wines category there was an average increase of 25% in-stock items in December 2016 compared to November 2016
    • Frozen Food, Bakery and Fresh Food were the top trending products in December

Click to Get Full UK Grocery Report

 

 

Create a strategy based on the competitive analytics and insights, including how these trends relate to shoppers’ online behavior and willingness to use e-commerce for grocery.

Integrate grocery e-commerce into your value proposition, including the convenience and time savings of click and collect programs and home delivery. Work with your suppliers to uncover ways to keep the supply chain cost-effective and responsive to changing consumer needs. By planning ahead now, your company will be well-positioned to capitalize on the imminent growth in grocery e-commerce.

Intelligence helps brands and retailers make decisions about the right trends of any product across the globe., at the right time. If you’d like to see how we do that, talk to us today.

———————————————————————————————————————————–
[i] Daniels, Jeff. Online grocery sales set to surge, grabbing 20 percent of market by 2025. CNBC. January 30, 2017.
[ii] Ibid.
[iii]Ibid.
[iv]Melton, James. Online grocery sales top $48 billion worldwide. Internet Retailer. October 6, 2016.
[v] Wells, Jeff. Amazon strikes again: E-commerce giant to open click-and-collect groceries. Food Dive. February 24, 2017.
[vi] Melton, James. Online grocery sales top $48 billion worldwide. Internet Retailer. October 6, 2016.
[vii] Ibid.
[viii] Daniels, Jeff. Online grocery sales set to surge, grabbing 20 percent of market by 2025. CNBC. January 30, 2017.
[ix] Loria, Keith. Most millennials grocery shop online. Here’s how to get them into stores. Food Dive. February 24, 2017.
[x]Ibid.
[xi]Daniels, Jeff. Online grocery sales set to surge, grabbing 20 percent of market by 2025. CNBC. January 30, 2017.
[xii]Melton, James. Online grocery sales top $48 billion worldwide. Internet Retailer. October 6, 2016.
[xiii] Ibid.
[xiv] Daniels, Jeff. Online grocery sales set to surge, grabbing 20 percent of market by 2025. CNBC. January 30, 2017.

 

9 Common eCommerce Fulfillment Problems and How to Fix Them

Want to infuriate your customers, destroy your reputation, and lose money? Of course you don’t. Ecommerce fulfillment problems are one of the fastest — and most common — routes to lost business, particularly among large brands with massive inventories. So what are the most common glitches? And how can you fix them? Continue reading “9 Common eCommerce Fulfillment Problems and How to Fix Them”

8 Ways to Create an Unstoppable eCommerce Marketing Strategy

Whereas businesses with a brick-and-mortar location naturally centralize their marketing efforts on their physical presence, the world of eCommerce faces an entirely different set of challenges. As much as having an online retail business provides significant flexibility, it also means that a business essentially lives or dies by how much it connects with consumers; a feat made far more complex given the ubiquitous role of eCommerce in everyday life. However, with the right planning and detailed eCommerce marketing strategy, an eCommerce business can break through and reach its target audience. Continue reading “8 Ways to Create an Unstoppable eCommerce Marketing Strategy”

10 Secrets to Success with Shopify

In just the past few years, the eCommerce space has developed by such leaps and bounds that online retailers now have countless tools at their disposal to streamline the process for consumers, allowing them to remain competitive in the face of a wildly growing industry. Among the most popular resources for eCommerce sites is Shopify.

Since its founding in 2004, the company has created increasingly sophisticated software designed specifically with online retailers in mind. It’s a tremendous tool that more eCommerce businesses should be utilizing to strengthen their products’ reach. Continue reading “10 Secrets to Success with Shopify”

10 Startup Marketing Ideas to Bootstrap Your Ecommerce Store

In the world of eCommerce, many new stores struggle to get even a small piece of the market. When you are running an eCommerce store, marketing is the biggest part of your job, and it has the most direct impact on your bottom line. As any seasoned eCommerce veteran will tell you, your online store needs a sustainable, long-term marketing strategy in place, instead of short-term growth hacks. With this in mind, here are 10 solid startup marketing ideas to bootstrap your ecommerce store.

Marketing Ideas for Startups

1. Launch contextual marketing campaigns

Contextual marketing campaigns are aimed at nurturing prospect relationships, and making people more likely to buy. Any info that you gather about your customer’s profiles, behaviors, and context can help you deliver highly relevant, and personalized content to the right person at the right time.

You can gather this data by:

  • Setting up analytics on your online store and tracking user behavior
  • Asking your store visitors and customers to fill out a form/survey
  • Using a marketing automation system in the back end

2. Promote user-generated content

Online consumers tend to place more trust in reviews, ratings, photos and other forms of user-generated content than they do in the traditional modes of marketing and advertising like TV and radio. Shoppers want first-hand experiences of customers who’ve already purchased that product. This is primarily because they people believe user reviews are more authentic and credible than an ad-campaign.

3. Build more relationships and partnerships

Do you know any online store owner or offline business that sells a complementary product? Partnering with them to sell packages/bundles could help new customers gain awareness of your store, and drive new traffic to your site. It won’t cost you or your partner anything extra, and yet you will both benefit by bringing new customer awareness to each business’s online presence.

4. Create videos that show customers how to use your products

YouTube channels are certainly a fun way to connect with your potential customers. People love the interactiveness of how-to videos, tutorials, and glimpses behind the scenes. Peeking behind the curtain makes people feel like they are getting to know you, and therefore they’ll be more confident about buying from you.

5. Give away products, and create a buzz

You can offer your products for free or dirt cheap in exchange for a glowing testimonial or review. Think ‘review bloggers’! The more of a following these reviewers have, the better. For just the cost of your product, you’ll be able to reach a wide audience. You can also host giveaways on social media to generate buzz. Something as simple as asking people to share a photo of your product in exchange for an entry to win said product could create a pool of raving fans. Speaking of social media …

6. Drive engagement with your audience on social media

You don’t need to spend hours on end daily to promote your online store via social media channels. In fact, some of the best social media campaigns take less than an hour per day to execute. Keep it simple by beginning with the platform your target market is most likely to hang out on. The key is not to have a dormant site. Respond to inquiries, comments, and reviews.

7. Segment and target key audience personas

Identify who is visiting your online store, and then cater directly to them. You can then create ad campaigns that speak to this type of person, showing them relevant content that would make them more likely to buy.

8. Launch an affiliate program

Joint venture and affiliate marketing campaigns encourage other people to sell on your behalf. They take a commission and you get more customers. It’s a win-win. Some affiliate marketers have large email lists that you might not yet have. By giving them a portion of the proceeds, they are doing all the heavy lifting for you.

9. Build your own email list

Email marketing is one of the best marketing channels for driving targeted traffic to your store. For someone to give you their email address, they are likely already interested in your product, making it that much easier to convert them into customers. And, email gives you enough space to mention things that you just can’t fit into a post on social media.

10. Launch your store on multiple platforms

From Ebay to Amazon, Etsy to Shopify, there are many options for hosting an online store which can act as an extension to your main store. Large platforms such as these may make it easier to spread brand awareness, while allowing you the opportunity to drive traffic back to your personal website.

Final Thoughts

While running marketing campaigns isn’t the only way to guarantee your online store’s success, it’s a great way to put your brand name out in front of hordes of potential customers that are still out of your reach. If done correctly, you can leverage the store’s brand awareness by launching unique digital marketing campaigns. Always remember that ideas for marketing campaigns, especially for startups, should aim at inviting, encouraging, and rewarding customers for engaging with your business. Keep relationship building at the forefront and your marketing efforts will be rewarded in no time.

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How to Take Advantage of Ecommerce Fulfillment Pricing

With each passing year, eCommerce sites are becoming more and more established as consumers’ preferred way to shop. Thanks to the convenience involved in online shopping and the wider variety of products that sites can offer, the customer experience offered online is both rising in prominence as well as shaping the retail landscape in general.

Shipping options, for example, are now one of the deciding factors in where customers choose to shop. However, in addition to its vital role in setting up product offers, there’s another side to shipping and fulfillment in general that needs to be addressed, namely the concept of eCommerce fulfillment pricing.

What Is eCommerce Fulfillment Pricing?

At its most basic, fulfillment is defined as “the process of receiving, packaging and shipping orders for goods.” The term is generally tied to the eCommerce world, and when it comes to designing a fulfillment strategy, companies are often faced with handling their own fulfillment or outsourcing to an organization that specializes in this specific niche. Both sides carry their own drawbacks and benefits that eCommerce businesses need to consider carefully, especially seeing as fulfillment has more than its fair share of additional costs associated with it.

However, with fulfillment costs continuing to rise across the board, many eCommerce businesses are having to shift their approach to pricing in response. With fulfillment needs in mind, this technique allow businesses to compensate for increased fulfillment costs and design their price points to offset this ongoing trend. With the proper tools to navigate the changing fulfillment costs, pricing can keep your company firmly on the upswing and prevent your profits from suffering in the long run.

Ways to Optimize

In keeping up with fulfillment costs, you may need to switch up how you price your products going forward. Fortunately, there are more than a few ways to optimize. We highly encourage adopting the latest technology — such as automated systems — to help streamline your operation and declutter your fulfillment process. However, here are some other tips that can help you achieve optimal results.

 

  • Offer free shipping: We’ve previously discussed the strategic power of incorporating free shipping into your offer. Though free shipping may seem in direct contrast with maintaining a tight fulfillment strategy, the benefits in reducing shopping cart abandonment, boosting sales and edging out competitors will more than make up for any perceived loss. Moreover, you can structure it based on a minimum order amount and devise the best way to offset any lost profits through pricing.

 

  • Work with a variety of carriers: Based on your customers’ and your business’s needs, you should have relationships with several carriers and fulfillment partners to help maximize your profits. This will be based on a combination of delivery needs, service level and costs, but when all is said and done, you should be able to keep your fulfillment running smoother than ever. As a bonus, you’ll have easy access to shift towards other carriers if something changes.

 

  • Real-time carrier rates and flat rates: Introducing real-time carrier rates or flat rates is another way to adjust your shipping in the face of changing fulfillment costs. With real-time carrier rates, you can use any number of eCommerce platforms to integrate your shipping process with standard postal organizations to ensure that the most updated rates are applied to a given purchase, giving your customers the chance to choose one. Flat rates can be just as rewarding, though you must be careful to establish a median rate that will not overcharge or undercharge the shipping of a certain product. If all your products are fairly similar in terms of size and weight, this might be the best way to go.

Just the Beginning

Although we’ve discussed a few ways that you can adjust your business to compensate for the cost of fulfillment, countless options still remain. Be sure to delve into in-depth pricing comparisons before instituting any widespread changes, and calculate what works for you. After all, eCommerce fulfillment pricing varies wildly from business to business — due to your location, your products and a number of other factors — and such a specific decision is one that only you can make for your business. Price mapping, for instance, is an excellent way to investigate whether any changes you might be considering make sense within the context of your business.

For more invaluable insights into how you should approach your company’s pricing, check out our Comprehensive Guide to Competitive Online Retail Pricing Strategies.

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What Your Store Can Learn from Uber’s Surge Pricing Method

The retail world of today is radically different from what the industry looked like just a few years ago, thanks in large part to the increasing prevalence of eCommerce as many consumers’ preferred way to shop. So many innovative approaches to marketing products and services have arisen that it is more essential than ever before for your business to take note of what works and what does not. Take, for instance, the current dilemma that Uber is contending with over its signature policy of surge pricing. Within this example alone lies a vital lesson about how to make the most out of a fresh way to serve your customers.

What Is Surge Pricing?

The most ubiquitous of the current online transportation companies, Uber has operated for years with surge pricing in place. The company’s mobile app employs an automatic algorithm that increases fare rates whenever demand is higher — such as during morning and evening rush hour, the holiday season or inclement weather conditions — and depending on the number of drivers in the immediate area.

Although intended to ensure availability for devoted customers and encourage drivers to hit the road for some extra cash, surge pricing has been the center of controversy among some customers. Despite the inherent benefits in this pricing approach, Uber’s efforts to balance supply and demand of its own service have had decidedly mixed results.

Perception Is Reality

Regardless of Uber’s intentions with surge pricing, the practice has been seen as unethical and exploitative, using an automated system to capitalize on busier times of day to ratchet up profits. However, based on Uber’s business model, sound rationale lies behind this tactic that could easily explain how surge pricing is a legitimate way to offset demand and not simply a blatant case of price gouging as some have claimed. After all, Uber does allow users to receive notifications when prices have increased to surge levels and/or when they return back to normal.

In fact, the real issue behind Uber’s struggle with its pricing could very well lie in the company’s inability to effectively communicate the advantages of surge pricing to its users. Whenever price increases are involved, it’s imperative that they are handled with a delicate hand and that your marketing hinges on overcoming customers’ natural bias against paying more. Whether or not they understand the reasoning behind it will inevitably shape their perception of the pricing as well as the company as a whole.

The Automation Factor

Aside from Uber’s faulty marketing in conveying the logic in surge pricing (thereby shaping public perception), the company’s adoption of automated pricing is actually one that continues to be embraced by many eCommerce sites, including leaders like Amazon. Since pricing is one of the predominant factors in determining the likelihood of a purchase, automation can help remove the guesswork and optimize the balance between offering great deals and fostering profitable long-term customer relationships.

Even surge pricing can work if it’s implemented just right and the market shift remains within reasonable limits. Granted, how automated pricing works best for your business will depend greatly on the specifics involved in your target audience, your product/service and your industry in general. Yet, we highly encourage you to look into automation as a key tenet of your pricing model going forward.

A Lesson Learned

More than anything, Uber’s struggle with surge pricing underscores the integral role that proper communication with consumers has in determining the reaction to your business policies. How you market your product and portray your company will feed into how heavily your prospects consider the value you can bring to their lives.

Even though Uber’s execution of surge pricing may have been less than ideal, the takeaway here should center on the strength and power that you can gain with automation. There’s a reason that it has become one of the most reliable tools to streamline your operation and maximize performance, and your pricing will benefit from incorporating some form of automated system in the immediate future.

For more invaluable insights into how you should approach your company’s pricing, check out our eBook, “A Comprehensive Guide to Competitive Online Retail Pricing Strategies.”

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5 Retail Marketing Strategies of Top-Performing Companies

When it comes to transforming prospects into paying customers, there’s no way we can underestimate the significance of your marketing team. After all, this is where the difference lies between a quality product that crashes and burns to one that becomes a household name as well as an industry standard.

From spreading awareness of your product, to persuading consumers that the value your company brings is worthy of their attention and money, marketing tackles it all one step at a time. So incorporating the newest innovations in retail marketing strategies into your business is an absolute must.

Cutting Edge Retail Marketing Strategies

Here are a few key concepts that should absolutely be part of your ecommerce marketing game plan going forward, if they aren’t already.

Automated Marketing Analytics

We’ve previously praised the advantages of automation to optimize multiple aspects of your business (such as pricing) and save you time in the process. However, when you use automation in concert with your market analysis, you can also gather intelligence that will drive other business decisions. With each passing year, more and more companies are incorporating automated analytics into their future plans. Roughly half are already onboard, and it’s about time your business does the same, lest you fall behind industry trends. The power that can be harnessed by automation is truly something that can elevate the performance and precision of what your business is already doing and make it exceedingly easy to take it to the next step.

The Customer Experience

First and foremost, your marketing campaign should cater to your target audience, but taking this philosophy a bit further might sweeten the appeal of your product enough to boost engagement. Design with the customer experience in mind, including everything from personalized messages to incentive programs and special offers to help prospects blossom into long-term customer relationships. Moreover, employ an omnichannel approach to your marketing that incorporates mobile apps, desktop websites and other forms of media, encouraging loyal customers to get involved in all sides of your business.

Content to Win

If you’re still unconvinced of the pertinence of content marketing in boosting business, allow us to put an end to your uncertainty right now. The past few years have incontrovertibly proven thedifference that regular content generation can make in getting the word out about your business. In fact, over one third of all traffic to shopping sites comes from search engines! Blogs, ebooks and whitepapers are among the most popular forms of free content that you can use to help prospects find you over search engines and/or entice them to sign up for your mailing list. However, what works for your specific niche may differ. Perhaps new media marketing like podcasts or a YouTube channel will suit you better. Regardless, you’re missing out if you’re not releasing some kind of content on a regular basis.

Introducing Proximity Marketing

Thanks to the location tracking capabilities now made mainstream via mobile devices, proximity marketing is a major part of many successful companies’ current strategies. With the localized data you receive, you can adjust your advertising content accordingly, speaking particularly to the physical location of your customer. Perhaps you might pitch them a relevant offer based on their shopping habits or attempt to sway them to check out a new offer on your website instead of visiting a the brick-and-mortar location of one of your competitors.

Research to Develop

In order to keep your company’s evolution running strong, be sure to devote a significant segment of your resources to market research. Whether these duties are assigned to a dedicated team or scattered among your business, it’s invaluable to gauge customer response — through surveys, direct messages or other means — as well as stay up-to-date on what companies both in your industry and beyond are doing to connect to their prospects. Oftentimes, this can be as simple as setting up alerts or connecting to relevant companies, publications and websites on social media and other networks for the latest news to be delivered to you directly.

Go Forth and Strategize

To remain competitive in the retail space (but particularly in the technology-centric world of eCommerce) is essentially impossible without remaining closely in tune with the latest and greatest approaches to spreading your company’s message.

The above techniques will help to make your marketing team that much stronger, but these alone aren’t enough to keep you on top for long. Marketing means never settling for the status quo, and so constant evaluation, testing, and implementation should always be in place to ensure that you’re providing the best service to your customers and doing justice to your products. The long-term life of your business may ultimately depend on it.

For more invaluable insights into how you should approach marketing your eCommerce business, check out our eBook, “Key Automated Marketing Strategies for eCommerce Store Success.”

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6 Retail Marketing Trends That Will Catapult Your Business

One of the worst things you can do with regard to your business is to insulate yourself from the industry you serve. In the case of eCommerce, the technology and tools you use to foster growth move along at such a rapid pace that you’re bound to become outdated unless you’re closely attuned to the latest retail marketing trends.

The eCommerce space may be constantly evolving, but with the right knowledge to guide the future of your business, you can benefit from emerging trends and retain a significant lead over your competitors.

Examples to Lead

In recent years, eCommerce has grown by leaps and bounds, and though we understand that the advancements involved may seem overwhelming at first, we can’t stress enough just how vital it is that you make a concerted effort to implement the latest practices. After all, the performance of your business would only benefit with the most popular and powerful marketing trends in your back pocket. Here are a few tips to follow based on what approaches are currently conquering the retail space.

1. Leverage “micro-moments”

Mobile technology has largely reinvented the business landscape across the board, and consumers are constantly checking their smartphones for updates and to stay connected. By tapping into “micro-moments” with push notifications and other messages, you can reach consumers on a whole new level catered specifically to their lifestyle.

2. Embrace omni-channel marketing

Customers nowadays expect fluidity between mobile devices, laptop computers, phones and physical locations. Your business functions at its finest then when all these channels are united. Feeding leads from one to the next creates a unified experience that offers a pervasive awareness of your business. Take a look at where your supply chain can improve, and consider introducing an app to support your new omni-channel structure.

3. Incentivize consumers to promote you

You may have noticed that many successful businesses have turned to exclusive discounts and rewards for premium customers who sign up for a free program. Now these incentive programs are expanding outward, encouraging frequent patrons to spread the word about your business on social media and elsewhere. Believe us, satisfied customers are the best marketing tool you have.

4. Don’t delay automation initiatives

Few methods to streamline your operation will ever prove as effective as automation. From scheduling outreach emails tailored to each specific customer subset to dynamic pricing that adjusts to the market, countless possibilities await your business. In fact, did you know that there are ways to even automate discount pricing strategies to stay one step ahead of your competition? The Incompetitor software platform monitors all of your competitor’s pricing strategies in real time so that you can stay ahead.This more intuitive approach to the industry is precisely the time-saving tool you need to foster fresh growth.

5. Kick up content marketing efforts

Content marketing may be more important than ever before, particularly in the eCommerce space. This approach, of course, offers consumers a value-added bit of content that will hopefully boost awareness and ultimately sales. As content marketing continues to evolve, more innovative and competitive ways to capture leads are coming to the forefront.

6. Promote your site’s personalization

Today’s consumers have been groomed with customized interaction across their technology, and your business too can leverage this as part of your marketing strategy. Users expect an experience that is designed specifically with them in mind. For your business, that fact could have great impact on users’ purchase decision and allows you the chance to guide the shopping experience, perhaps even using location-based marketing and other sophisticated technology.

The Path Ahead

Of course, the trends detailed above are only some of the directions that the eCommerce world is heading down. However, we’re confident that you now have a better grasp of where your business needs to be in order to become or remain at the forefront of the industry.

Once you are on top of the latest developments, you’ll need to keep a close eye on what may be waiting just around the corner and anticipate how your business can continually innovate. Your customer experience should always remain paramount, and one of the best ways to ensure that this is the case is to never let your business slip behind the times.

For more invaluable insights into how you should approach marketing your eCommerce business and use automation to drive future success, check out our new eBook, “Key Automated Marketing Strategies for eCommerce Store Success.”

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