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Off-Season Marketing Strategies for Retailers

Off-Season Marketing Strategies for Retailers

As a retailer, you’re bound to experience high and low seasons. 

Periods of slower sales can happen for many reasons such as natural seasonality (e.g. Halloween supplies), the weather, or competitive promotions. Whatever the reason for your slump, it’s important to view your off-season or slow periods as a potential opportunity. 

Low seasons are actually the perfect time for retailers to focus on their marketing efforts. With a little bit of creativity and planning, you can make it through your off-season with not only more new customers, but a larger base of followers to promote to. And who knows, you may even find a new revenue opportunity in the process!

Keep reading for 3 strategies that you can use to keep your retail business profitable during your slow periods.


Why an off-season marketing strategy is important

There is a common misconception that businesses should only invest in marketing during their high season. But this isn’t the case. Your slower seasons are actually the time when you need the sales lift from marketing!

In particular, an off-season marketing strategy is key to: 

  • Building local and online awareness: Knowing is half the battle. Shoppers don’t know what they’ve never seen. Marketing during the off-season gives your retail business time to build online presence and brand awareness with target shoppers. You can educate customers on what your store has to offer and how you are better than your competition. This way, once your peak season hits, you will be top-of-mind with shoppers. 
  • Minimizing your overall marketing costs: Ad spend decreases during the off-season as less competitors are bidding on ad space. This means that you can get more exposure at a lower cost versus advertising during your high season.
  • Getting ahead of your competitors: Besides getting new shoppers in your door, marketing during the off-season also gives you the opportunity to start building your own mailing lists or followers. This is particularly important as you need time to attract a following of people interested in what you offer. But by starting earlier than your competitors, you will be ahead of them by having a new list of potential shoppers that you can market directly to during your high season. 

Marketing strategies for the off-season 

When we’re talking about marketing, we are specifically talking about digital marketing. While traditional marketing has its place, for most privately owned businesses, digital marketing offers the easiest way to promote your business, especially during your off-season. After all, today’s average shopper now spends more time with digital content than traditional media.

1) Gather online customer reviews

customer reviews

Online reviews are an important part of the consumer shopping journey. In fact, 90% of shoppers read customer reviews before visiting a business. And according to Google, 2 out of 3 shoppers say having positive reviews was an important factor in selecting a business or store to purchase from. 

With so many people basing their purchasing decisions on reviews, gathering reviews should be a key marketing strategy for your business all year round. But the off-season is usually the best time to ask loyal and long term shoppers to leave a review on your Google My Business (GMB) profile, especially now that you can create a GMB shortname unique to your business. You can then use customer reviews as promotional material across all of your digital platforms including your social media and store website. By staying active online and promoting positive customer testimonials, shoppers will remember your retail business when peak season hits. 

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2) Consider paid marketing options 

google analytics

Digital marketing benefits retailers of all sizes as it is always the fastest way to cost-effectively access an incredibly targeted audience of shoppers. The advantages of digital marketing include: 

  • Fast impact: Compared to traditional marketing, paid digital marketing will make an impact much faster. Depending on the type of campaign, you can get up and running in minutes.
  • Flexible and accountable: The results of digital marketing are much easier to see so you can immediately know whether a campaign is working and make changes right away. This is a major difference from traditional marketing where your investment is a one-time deal since you can’t make changes once a flyer or a radio ad is printed or produced.
  • Lower overall cost: A well planned out digital marketing campaign can reach a targeted audience at a much lower cost (as long as $10/day) than traditional marketing methods.

Click here to learn more about the benefits of digital marketing for retailers. 

Run Google Local Inventory Ads (LIA)

Over the past several years, an increasing number of retailers have looked at running Google Local Inventory Ads (LIA) during slower periods. In Sidecar‘s 2019 Benchmark Report: Google Ads in Retail, the LIA performance of several retailers was examined. It turns out, LIA clicks grew by 16% and revenue increased 15% year-over-year.

Sephora, Canadian Tire, and Williams-Sonoma are some of the big box retailers who have seen success with Google LIA. Now for the first time ever, Local Inventory Ads are also available to independent retailers who are looking to attract local shoppers. And the best part? They are available in an automated way that doesn’t require retailers to hire new staff or keep inventory stock levels updated.

To learn how you can easily implement Google LIA together with your POS system, click here.

While Google LIA has proven to be a viable marketing strategy all year round, it is particularly effective during off-season for the following reasons: 

  • Bids are lower: As mentioned above, there are fewer competitors buying ads during off-season – which means lower ad spend is required to gain impressions. 
  • Marketing costs are minimized: LIA only showcases in-stock product and will automatically turn off when stock runs out, reducing your marketing costs. 
  • Get in front of local shoppers who are actually looking to purchase your products: Google LIA displays in-stock product to shoppers within a certain Km radius (you have full control over the geographical range) who are actually searching for products that your store sells.

3) Promote your business on social media 

With the rise in social media and e-commerce, shoppers are closer than ever to retail businesses. Not only do you have a way to directly showcase your products and store, you can now build up your list of followers for personalized offers.

While websites are still a great way to offer a “digital window” into your store, with the rise in social commerce (e.g. Facebook Shops, Instagram Shopping, etc.), it’s very important for retail stores to be active on social media.

Check out these 6 tips to help you grow your social following more quickly during your low season:

  1. Pick no more than 1 or 2 social media platforms to avoid spreading yourself too thin. Just make sure you’re picking ones your target customers commonly use. See how the various social media platforms differ.
  2. Make sure you have a verified Google My Business (GMB) account and are active on it. GMB is one of the best free online marketing tools available for small businesses today. Not only does GMB help local shoppers find you on Google Maps, it has options for you to post content (e.g. special offers or events) which improves your SEO.
  3. Improve your content design with cost-effective graphic tools. You don’t need to be a designer to use drag-and-drop tools such as Canva that even have free versions.
  4. Use original images for the best results as these rank better on SEO.
  5. Don’t forget to include the links to your social media accounts on email signatures, invoices, receipts, ads and on any window displays.
  6. Clearly display your social media links at the cash register and train your staff to encourage shoppers to sign up for special offers while they are waiting.

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How to Successfully Manage Multi-Store Retail Operations

How to Successfully Manage Multi-Store Retail Operations

Going from a single retail store to a multi-location operation comes with different business challenges. But, at the same time, it also comes with greater opportunities to reach more shoppers and grow your sales.

In fact, with the right technology and processes in place, managing several retail stores is a great way to start leveraging the benefits of scale.

In this blog post, we’ll take you through some of the steps you should take to ensure a smooth transition from a single store to a multi-store operation.

multi-store operations

Tips for managing multi-store operations

1) Run your retail operations in the cloud

Managing several retail stores at the same time requires more efficiency and flexibility in running your business. In particular, it requires a retail POS system designed for multi-store management. This is where new cloud POS technology comes in. 

Because cloud software isn’t tied to a specific device, as long as you have an internet connection, you can access your POS and the data you need to run your business from anywhere.  Whether you’re in store, on the go, at home, or even on vacation, checking in on your stores is as easy as logging in to your POS system from an internet browser.

Cloud retail POS technology also gives you access to centralized, real-time data across all of your retail locations. So important information such as stock levels, sales history, and customer information are always up-to-date. After all, in today’s competitive retail environment, shoppers expect stores to be able to access real-time stock levels across all locations.

Accurate data leads to less stock-outs and lost sales and ultimately, happier employees and customers.

2) Minimize staff turnover risks and simplify employee training with technology

You obviously can’t manage multiple store locations by yourself. So, it’s important to hire competent staff members that you can trust to take charge of different store operations while you are away.

But even if you hire the right people, the fact is, how you manage staff is just as important as who you hire. This is especially true once you have multiple locations.

It’s important for you to be able to trust your managers (and a great manager can make all the difference in a store’s performance), but unless your staff are tied to your business, there is always a chance that an employee will quit. And you need to be prepared for that day.

There are so many examples of companies that have over-relied on one or a few individuals that there is even a term for this: “Key-Person Dependency Risk“. This is a particularly big issue for small-to-medium businesses that often don’t have the resources for back-up personnel or even cross-training of staff.

This is where technology has been able to add real value in terms of minimizing the risk of over-reliance while, at the same time, freeing up staff from doing boring, routine tasks.

A well-managed company is never dependent upon the performance of one or a few individuals. As well, no employee should be allowed to hoard knowledge, relationships, or resources to achieve job security.

https://www.rightattitudes.com/2018/09/07/key-person-dependency-risk/

This is why it is crucial to consider the built-in security controls and training tools already in place when choosing a retail POS system. Almost everything in a modern retail business flows through a retail point-of-sale system. As such, your ability to manage the knowledge (e.g. reports, costing, margins, etc.) in your business greatly depends on:

  1. Your ability to track the actions and performance of your staff with your retail POS.
  2. Your ability to easily train new staff in different roles whenever there is turnover.

If you’ve worked in retail long enough to expand to multiple locations, you know the importance of POS and how costly it can be to manage and train staff to use a new point-of-sale system.

For retailers who deal with peak periods, long lineups, or high employee turnover rates, it is essential for merchants to consider the real cost of both onboarding and training over time. Because unless you never expect to lose any staff, you will always be re-training some employees.

While you may be tempted to choose the cheapest POS software option or the one with the simplest design, we always ask our customers to take a good look at the type of security and access controls they will have right from the beginning. It is very difficult to control the data of a retail business outside of the POS system and too costly (assuming it is even possible) to get custom features added to a standard system used by many other merchants.

It’s why we put so much time into the design of the access rights and training tools within our own POS. After all, while we design our software for user-friendliness, clean design cannot be simple to the point where it lacks real functionality. And in modern cloud-based POS, it’s possible for even feature-rich systems to be easy-to-use with properly designed UX and practical tools such as built-in product tutorials.

3) Implement standard operating procedures across all of your retail locations

Standard operating procedures (SOPs) ensure that business operations are consistent and predictable across all of your retail locations. Put simply, SOPs make managing a multi-store business easier – and they give your customers a consistent shopping experience. 

Standard procedures that should be established at each store include product returns and discounts, order policies, store, and security. Similar to access rights, the easiest and most common place to manage SOPs is through your POS system. So make sure to check if the POS system you’re considering has options to manage returns, discounts, cashouts, sales policies, etc.

4) Choose a retail POS that can scale with you

Many retailers make the mistake of investing in a new POS without thinking about business growth. There are many retail POS providers that restrict the number of users, inventory items or stores that can be added. Meaning that once your retail operations grow beyond a certain level, you must invest a considerable amount of money to upgrade your POS plan or switch to a new POS altogether. 

That’s why it’s important to choose a retail POS system that can scale with you and is built for multi-store operations! Look out for the following features when selecting a retail POS software for a growing business: 

  • unlimited stores, selling zones, and stock allocations 
  • the ability to scale faster by cloning settings for new stores
  • automated tax calculations based on geographical location 
  • multi-currency and multi-language settings
  • the ability to handle high transaction and inventory volume (this is especially important for high traffic retailers) 
  • built-in training resources for faster onboarding
multi-store management

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benefits of seo black friday budget marketing canada cloud adoption cloud point-of-sale cloud pos cloud retail software cloud technology customer loyalty custom names digital marketing footfall foot traffic free images free marketing geo-targeting google google local inventory ads Google My Business google my business features google shopping halloween holiday marketing in-store Industry Trends local seo main street retail marketing tips online search physical retail point of sale pos POS Tips retail retail marketing retail stores retail technology search engine optimization sell more seo small business stock photos technology thanksgiving