Over the past decade, the retail industry has undergone substantial changes and it continues to evolve, making retail marketing ever more challenging. Retailers have to adapt to changes in demographics, attitudes, buyer behaviour and consumer preferences. Emerging technologies continually change the way that consumers interact with brands, which makes planning successful retail marketing projects all the more challenging.
As shoppers become more demanding, retailers need to be both proactive and reactive to their needs. From the high street to online, marketing messages need to be consistent, targeted, compelling and relevant for today’s savvy consumers.
When planning a retail marketing project for a new store, various elements need to be planned out to ensure that it has the best chance of success. There are a multitude of ways to layout a store to ensure optimum user journey and experience, and the best way for your particular store will depend on the area of retail you are in and the customer profile you have. However, there are some common areas which need considering for anyone planning a new store marketing project:
1. The Floor Plan
Whilst every store looks completely different to the average consumer, we know that there are three basic types of retail store layout; grid, loop or free-flow. The type of retail store you are launching will determine which of these is the best starting point. The store layout impacts your marketing greatly, as it determines product placement, customer journey around the store, and gives your store its overall look and feel.
2. Consider your Target Audience
Once your store layout/floor plan is written down on paper, you can visualise your customer’s journey around the store to maximise marketing opportunities. Ensure pathways, aisles and displays are arranged with customer flow in mind. Think like your customer would think. For example, when customers enter a store, you need a decompression zone, where they can make the transition from outside, experience what is on offer and get that all important first impression. During this transition period, customers are not likely to notice products or signage, so marketing efforts here may be wasted.
3. The Customer Journey
Studies have shown that a high percentage of consumers shop the way they drive, so in the UK, most will turn left when they enter a store. Therefore your marketing plan should have the zone to the left of the entrance as a key area for promotional displays. If you consider the whole customer journey from left to right, tills should be at the end of their experience on the right, leaving the left, middle and back areas to be maximised for product exposure and key marketing messages.
4. Product Exposure
Before considering fixtures and displays, think where you want your products to be positioned in your store – and more importantly, where would your customers expect them to be? Consider seasonal & sale products as well as permanent products.
Map them out on a store plan, keeping in mind your experience of consumer behaviour, but also be aware that the placement of your products need to be adaptable to change. For example, if once the store is open for business, you choose to implement an in-store foot traffic system, this may change your perception of how shoppers move around your store and interact with displays/products.
There are 3 main product mapping systems; zone design, power walls & speed bumps. Zone design sees products grouped into categories, therefore exposing customers to additional products at the time of selection that accompany or enhance what they are buying.
Best-selling products should be located at the back of the store but highlighted in window displays to entice customers inside. Low-cost impulse buys placed at the till encourages customers to add an extra item or 2 to their shopping.
Power Walls are a great asset for retail marketing. Usually on the left or rear in UK stores to gain maximum exposure, power walls are a key feature for ‘hot’ products, new items or seasonal displays. These need to be flexible to be changed frequently and despite the name, it doesn’t have to be a wall. Tables, display units, aisle ends etc can all be powerful promotional tools and a key area of your retail marketing plan.
Speed Bumps are a way to slow your customers down to draw their interest to particular products or displays. Not literally like speed bumps we find on the road, these are generally freestanding display units that feature new or ‘hot’ products.
5. Window Displays/Signage
Your window display is one of the main tools in your marketing toolbox. Your chance to show your brand’s personality and attract passers-by. Use your window display to tell a story, share an experience….any way that makes the passing consumer think ‘I need to buy that’.
Digital signage is becoming more popular in retail as it is eye-catching, flexible and easy to show your brand and its personality. Customers can be easily be shown new products, popular products, customer reviews etc.
Summary - How to Plan a Successful Retail Marketing Project
A new store will need a cleverly thought out marketing plan, but there is no end to the process. A retail store needs to continually change and evolve to keep up with new products, new trends and changing consumer tastes and expectations. So the key word is flexibility – create a marketing plan that can be adaptable and always focus on the customer journey.