Overcoming Marketing Challenges

WITH the advent of AI those who market online are going to have to step up to the challenges that this new year will bring. Marketing will need to be tweaked in order to attract buyers as the marketplace will become more competitive. Your team needs to effectively communicate amongst themselves and ultimately to the consumer.

MORE than ever, content is king. Online users are looking to be entertained and educated before they are sold on merchandise. Many are interested in social issues, which can be a double-edged sword if you take a stand. Be careful when you back ideas and ideologies. Just keep BLM in mind. Started off seemingly good and turned into a fiasco. Same with Bud Light. Oftentimes well-intentioned plans go awry and can cause losses to your business.

RESEARCH your buyer. Know what interests them and learn how to reach them and resonate with them. See what is relevant to them and target market to them. When you create content for your platforms make sure that you are generating leads. This is one of the most important functions of marketing. Increasing your company’s bottom line is the key. It’s wonderful to post about saving the environment, but you need to introduce your product line that is doing just that. Always be selling is the mantra for online marketing. You have a very limited window to keep the attention span of today’s consumer which means that you have to capture their attention and get them to take out their credit card within a paragraph or two!

How Is Your Store Doing?


Well, we are getting set for the last quarter and that is the time that all retailers look forward to, as they do a bulk of their business at this time. The reports in the news and trades show that the economy has improved somewhat and that consumers have been going through spending spurts.

The holiday season has always been successful for retailers, regardless of the economic climate. While the large mega-stores get upset by not posting gains, the small independent retailer is happy to clear their shelves and move inventory for the last quarter. All that the retailer wants to see is profits at the end of the year and this is the time that with proper marketing  he will be able to see that!

Your merchandise mix is extremely important to your sales success. Having the right blend of merchandise at the right prices is going to dictate how you do this season. Many retailers have been using our wholesale merchandise magazine, Retailers Forum, to find merchandise, as well as visiting all the popular trade shows.

Now is the time of the year to start your holiday marketing programs and promotions. The more you promote your store the more sales you will have. Make sure you take full advantage of the inexpensive social marketing that you can be doing for your business. This is a good time to update your customers mailing list info, email addresses, twitter accounts or whatever to get the word out…. We’re here and ready for business!

Showrooming – A New Twist!

window-shopping1Well, just when I thought I’d seen it all with regards to “showrooming” — you know what that is – when shoppers come into your store to view the goods and make the purchase elsewhere.

Many of the larger retailers have started changing the SKU numbers so that shoppers cannot easily search online for the items, but we all know that a good description will turn up the item online. So, what to do? Some retailers trail behind the shoppers interacting with them and in my opinion that makes for an unpleasant shopping experience for many of them. Aside from getting into the shoppers face when they jot down the item there really hasn’t been a good solution.

Today I read the ultimate solution – and it really is a crazy idea that only seems to have been tried overseas. Pay to browse!

At the Vera Wang bridal boutique in Shanghai, customers must pay 3000 yuan (approx. $480 US) for a 90 minute time slot to browse and try on dresses. There is also a food store in Australia that charges customers $5 for coming in to browse.

Could you imagine your store implementing this policy? Seems that these fees are quite drastic and not really the answer to keeping brick and mortar stores around. Educating the consumers is key here — they need to understand that if they like their local neighborhood or chain stores to go shopping in – they need to do just that — SHOP!

Here’s What Grinds My Gears…

The news for the retail industry has been discouraging since prior to last Christmas season. We read now that many established stores will be closing down this year. I read that it is estimated that over 40,000 retail stores will close this year. Now, some of them deserve to close as they were mismanaged and honestly I never understood how they even stayed around in the first place.

Also, remember when you read the doom and gloom news that stores like Steve & Barry’s and Mervyn’s have closed down through bankruptcy that perhaps this was a pre-meditated move. I recently read an article about the founder of Mervyn’s who sold the chain to an investment group thinking that they would carry on the name and promote the business. The article showed that the investors seemed more interested in the sum of its parts (real estate, real estate, real estate!) Same with Steve & Barry’s? Also saw National Wholesale Liquidators decided to liquidate themselves stating the tough economy hurt them. Hurt them? They sell CLOSEOUTS for goodness sake. The dollar and discounters are doing great when times get tough. Instead, I think they found a way out of their unsuccessful locations and a way to STIFF their suppliers. It was really interesting how some of the family members of the chain BOUGHT BACK their own stores in the bankruptcy auctions! They cherry-picked the profitable locations and cleared the liabilities to get a fresh start.

As a small business we’re not going to get the investor speculators to throw money at us. If we independents don’t step up and work harder and smarter we only end up going out of business. No fanfare. No front page in the Times or on Bloomberg’s news site. We simply have a clearance liquidation sale where people in the community who never bothered to stop into the store come in and feign sympathy as they buy for 75% off the dollar. My favorite line at these closing sales are “Oh, what a great store, it’s too bad.” This, coming from people who never bothered to stop in. And another local small store hits the dust. More community blight as downtown areas turn to ghost towns and property values dwindle down.

The small business is the backbone of our country and our economy. I can only hope that the new administration realizes this and steps up to assist our struggling businesses by emphasizing the need for communities to embrace their small businesses. These are your neighbors, sharing their love and concern for your community. The big box stores don’t care – they will take your money and put NOTHING back, sending their profits to their headquarters eons away from your hometown.

As small businesses we need to PROMOTE LOCAL SHOPPING with signs like “Support Your Local Merchants” and programs to encourage shoppers to stay local. We’re all in this together, as neighbors.

Well, that’s what Grinding My Gears this week!