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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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Holiday 2019 Retail Stock Photos

Holiday 2019 Retail Stock Photos

It’s the busiest time of the year for retailers! So, to help you save time, our team has created a collection of beautiful, high quality holiday stock photos. 

All images are free for commercial use, no attribution required. 

You can download them here. 


#holidayimages #stockphotos #royaltyfree #holidaystockimages

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Tips for Increasing Store Sales During the Holidays

Tips for Increasing Store Sales During the Holidays

The holidays are here and this year, shoppers are planning to spend $1,048 on average.

Seeing as the Christmas season is the largest shopping event of the year, the stakes are high for retailers. And while there may not be a one-size fits all approach to achieving holiday retail success, there are tried and tested strategies that will help steer you in the right direction.

We’ve put together a list of time-honored tips to guide you through the Christmas retail rush so you can boost your store sales and have a successful holiday season.

Check them out below!

How to Increase your Store Sales this Holiday Season 

Create Compelling Window Displays

This year, an estimated 36% of shoppers will be getting their holiday shopping inspiration from physical retail stores. Take advantage of this insight by creating an eye-catching window display. 

Not only does a unique and compelling holiday window display help you stand out from competitors, it also drives foot traffic. In fact, window displays act as a silent salesperson or a billboard for your retail business – they entice passersby and nearby shoppers to enter your store. The right window display will turn the heads of shoppers so your sales associates can close the sale.

Good lighting, bold shapes and colours, and creativity are all essential elements of a compelling window display. Incorporate your merchandise into the display by focusing on how it makes the perfect gift for a loved one, how your products are ideal decorations for a Christmas party, or how your clothing would be great to wear at the office holiday party etc.

Harry Rose holiday window display
Harry Rosen is a great example of a retailer that created a compelling holiday window display.

Offer Free Gift Wrapping

Offering gift wrapping services is a great way to earn customer loyalty. Convenience is a big selling point during the holidays and shoppers always appreciate businesses that can help them save time and effort.

Free gift wrapping can even act as a competitive advantage for your retail store. Shoppers will be compelled to buy from you instead of your competitors. And in may cases, they will see your store as the perfect place to go for last minute gift shopping. 

It’s a good to idea to pre-wrap certain quantities of popular merchandise. Also, consider displaying smaller gift baskets at checkout so shoppers can easily add to their orders. 

Offer free gift wrapping services

Run Promotions 

According to an article by Mckinsey & Company, larger retailers like Target, Best Buy, and Kohl’s were big winners during the holiday season. And they derived their success from a string of big promotional days

You may worry that offering promotions throughout the holiday season will eat at your margins, but an increase in traffic and sales will most likely make up for it. Offering numerous promotions throughout the month of December is a good way to build hype and keep customers coming back. 

Here are some things to keep in mind: 

  • Offer big discounts (30%-50%) throughout the month: if you sell big brand or well known merchandise, this strategy will work especially well for you. 
  • Offer BOGO deals: studies have shown that offering something for free is oftentimes more effective than a discount. 
  • Have exclusive offers for VIP customers: This gives you more control over your margins and at the same time, allows you to build a loyal customer base. 

Remember to make use of social media and email marketing to advertise your promotions! It’s always a good idea to put up sales signage (banners, decals, window signs) so that nearby shoppers can become aware of your discounts.  

holiday sales

Buy Online, Pick Up in Store (BOPUS) 

Mckinsey & Company states that “click-and-collect was a competitive advantage for brick-and-mortar retailers” during the 2018 holiday season. Rather than relying on Amazon, last minute Christmas shoppers depended upon brick and mortar retailers as well as the popular option of buying items online and picking them up in-store. 

While a BOPUS strategy provides shoppers with a ton of convenience and flexibility, it comes with it’s fair share of benefits for retailers too, including: 

  • Increased rates of impulse purchases 
  • Lower return rates
  • More foot traffic 
  • Decreased shipping costs
  • Satisfied and loyal shoppers

For retailers who do not have an e-commerce site, Google Local Inventory ads are a great way to drive shoppers to your store with BOPUS offers. Click here to find out how your retail business can easily implement Google LIAs. 

holiday shopping

Google Local Inventory Ads (LIA)  

During the days that lead up to Christmas,  Google searches with local intent increase. This is likely due to the fact that shoppers are reluctant to depend on online retailers/shipping and would rather go in-store to purchase gifts. 

Running Google Local Inventory Ads is a great way to target these local, last minute holiday shoppers. Google LIAs are also effective at reaching mobile shoppers – this holiday season, 73% of shoppers plan on using their smartphone or tablet to conduct product research or make a purchase

In fact, LIAs are a great way to drive local shoppers to your store year round. To learn more about Google LIAs, click here.

Local shoppers

Happy holidays and happy selling!

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Loss Leader Pricing in Retail

Loss Leader Pricing in Retail

What is Loss Leader Pricing?

Loss leaders in retail are items or merchandise that are offered either at a significant discount, at minimum profit margin, or sometimes even below cost to entice shoppers to make a purchase.

This pricing strategy has been used by many big box retailers and discount stores to encourage impulse buys and has been met with great success.

Simply put, the intention behind this marketing tactic is to bring shoppers in-store and once they’re there, encourage purchases of higher margin items to make up for the profit lost on loss leaders.

Examples of Loss Leader Pricing

You have probably encountered loss leader pricing more often than you would think while shopping. Can you think of a sale that seemed too good to be true? Your local grocery store may have been selling eggs at a steep discount or your favorite clothing brand may have sent you an email advertising their sweaters at a ridiculously low price point. 

These deals may have you thinking “there’s no way that the retailer is making any money on these items”. And in most cases, you’re right! Let’s take a look at some common examples of loss leader pricing in retail. 

1) Grocery Store Staples 

Grocery store staples such as milk, meat, and eggs work really well as loss leaders. Because they are regularly bought commodities, discounts and low prices are sure to attract shoppers. These items are strategically placed at the back of the grocery store to promote impulse purchases. Because shoppers have to walk to the very back of the store to purchase these staple goods, it is likely that they will be enticed to purchase other items as well. 

milk as a loss leader

2) Printers 

Printers are also commonly used as loss leaders to encourage shoppers to purchase complementary items like ink and printer paper. While printers are often sold at or below cost, the price of ink is extremely high. Loss leader pricing is used to get shoppers to purchase the printer, and create the demand for ink which again, is relatively expensive. 

printers as loss leaders

3) Gaming Consoles 

While the price of gaming consoles may seem high, they are actually sold at or below cost. For example, Microsoft Xbox gaming consoles are strategically sold below cost to encourage consumers to buy higher margin video games.  

gaming consoles as loss leaders

The Pros and Cons of Loss Leaders

Advantages:

1) Sell Slow Moving Inventory

If you have a slow moving or overstocked inventory item, choosing to price it as a loss leader can help you move it faster. This will result in more shelf space, less inventory, and an increase in cash flow. 

2) Promote Complementary Items

Strategically choosing your loss leaders can help you increase sales of other items in your store. For example, let’s say you’re looking to increase the sale of a certain brand of women’s razor blades. In this case, you would price the associated razor as a loss leader. Once consumers buy the razor that complements those razor blades, they’ll have to come back to purchase the blades as well (which you can choose to sell at a higher margin). 

Disadvantages:

1) May Hurt Your Brand Perception

Drastically discounting items can affect how consumers view your brand. Many shoppers associate lower prices with poor product quality. And overusing loss leader pricing can give consumers the wrong perception of your retail store. Remember people want high quality merchandise at good price points, not garbage.

2) You can Lose Money

There is risk associated with loss leader pricing – which is why you must closely monitor sales of complementary products and of the loss leaders themselves. There is a chance that customers will only purchase the loss leader itself in high quantities. Meaning lower or no sales of complementary, high margin items which results in less profit for your store overall.


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Sell More: Black Friday Marketing Tips for Retailers

Sell More: Black Friday Marketing Tips for Retailers

The five day Thanksgiving weekend (American Thanksgiving through to Cyber Monday) is one of the biggest shopping events of the year.

According to the NRF, the average shopper spent $313.29 during the five day period in 2018

For retailers, this presents the perfect opportunity to attract more shoppers with Black Friday marketing and as a result, increase store visits and sales.   

But in order to take full advantage of the holiday weekend, retailers need to be prepared to meet shopper demand and expectations.

Black Friday Shopper Insights and Trends

While shoppers are expected to shop all weekend long, Black Friday has remained the busiest day for in-store shopping with more than 67 million shoppers participating last year and 114.6 million expected to participate this year.

NRF Thanksgiving Weekend Data

Top purchases over the 2018 holiday weekend included: apparel (57%), toys (34%), books and video games (29%), electronics (26%), and gift cards (20%)

It’s important to note that the multichannel shopper outspent the single-channel shopper by $93 on average in 2018

NRF Type of Black Friday Shopper

This year, the majority of shoppers are planning to start their shopping in-store (47%) compared with those who are planning to start online (41%)

The following are the top reasons that people plan to shop this holiday weekend

  • 65% of shoppers state that it is because the deals are too good to pass up 

  • 28% say that it is due to tradition

  • 22% state that they like to begin their holiday shopping during the weekend

  • 21% of shoppers say that it gives them something to do

  • 17% state that it’s a group activity with their friends/family 

Keep reading to find out how you can take advantage of these trends and increase your retail sales this upcoming holiday weekend! 

6 Retail Store Marketing Tips

1) Assess your Online Presence 

Review your online presence

Recent consumer research shows that nowadays, shoppers are conducting Google searches prior to visiting retail stores. In other words, online information is what drives shoppers to purchase in-store. So even if you do not have an online store, it’s important to assess and revamp your online presence prior to the Thanksgiving weekend.

If your business cannot easily be found online, there’s a large chance that you are losing out on potential shoppers. So here is a quick checklist that will help you assess how your retail store appears online: 

  • Check to see if you business information and holiday hours are updated on Google My Business. You can use tools like Yext to run a scan of how your business appears on listings/online directories across the web (Google, Yahoo, Bing etc). 

  • Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly – mobile friendliness is a major ranking factor used by Google when deciding how to rank your website. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly test to check the mobile-responsiveness of your website.  

  • Check review platforms like Google My Business and Yelp and make sure you are consistently replying to customer reviews. You’ll want to ensure that your customers are regularly leaving reviews as 90% of customers read online reviews before visiting a business. Click here to find out how you can gather more positive reviews for your retail business. 

2) Engage Shoppers After the Weekend is Over 

Black Friday Sale

Over 56% of 2018 Black Friday shoppers still had holiday shopping to complete after the weekend was over. And the majority of shoppers (92%) believed that the strong deals offered over the weekend would continue or improve throughout the rest of the holiday season. 

So, in order to capture this chunk of customers, it’s a good idea to run  sales and promotions post Black Friday weekend. Not only will you be able to draw in more shoppers and sales, this strategy will also help  you get rid of any slow moving or remaining stock. 

To reach as many shoppers as possible, take advantage of email marketing and other digital marketing tools to promote your post Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals! 

3) Partner Up with a Local Business 

partner up with a local business

As a small retailer, it’s hard to compete with big-box stores on Black Friday – slashing your prices in an attempt to increase traffic and sales just isn’t good for your margins. But with 65% of shoppers crediting good deals as their main motivation for Black Friday shopping, you still need to find ways to stand out. 

By partnering with local businesses, you can provide unique deals that shoppers will have a hard time passing up. And this way, you don’t have to risk low profit margins. In fact, you can still sell products at regular price or even at a premium.

The best collaboration strategies include: 

  • Selling products in bundles: Packaging products that complement each other in one product bundle is a great way to increase your store’s average order value. For example, pairing three lipstick shades with a skincare product or, bundling sweaters with a free bag. In order for this strategy to work, it’s obviously a good idea to partner with a store that sells complementary products. 

  • Offer partner promotions/discounts: Another effective strategy includes cross-promoting. For example, shoppers will receive 10% off of total sale or free shipping at your partner’s business when they purchase $50 or more at your store. You can print promotional material on your receipts and customers can use this as a voucher. 

  • Host Events: You can also team up with local businesses to host special events. For example, you could partner up with a restaurant to host a late-night open house or extended seasonal hours. Remember a good chunk of shoppers view Black Friday as something fun – 17% of shoppers see it as a group activity with their friends/family and 21% of shoppers say that it gives them something to do

4) Offer Exclusive Benefits to VIP Shoppers

exclusive offers

Black Friday is a great opportunity to strengthen your brand’s engagement with your loyal shoppers. After all, they are your target customers and the ones that are the most interested in your products.

By introducing the idea of exclusivity in your email marketing campaigns, you trigger psychological rewards like a sense of belonging and importance. This is why exclusivity makes your promotional offers appear more attractive to shoppers and encourages them to visit your store. 

Remember – shoppers are bombarded with emails during this time of the year. So make your emails stand out with:

  • a clear incentive in the subject line (for example: Exclusive VIP Sale) 

  • a personalised subject line (personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened). Alternatively, you could include the shoppers first name in the email opening line. 

  • a short, simple, and to the point message. 

 5) Promote Scarcity 

promote scarcity

As mentioned above, the majority of shoppers (92%) believe that strong deals will be offered all throughout the holiday season. And with so many competitors offering deals during the weekend, shoppers are left with a lot of decisions to make. That’s why it’s necessary to create a sense a urgency with your Black Friday marketing campaigns.

Urgency and scarcity are widely used marketing tools in retail. And for good reason – creating a sense of urgency in shoppers increases demand and ultimately leads to more purchases. 

The following are some strategies that you can employ to incentivize shoppers to act fast: 

  • Set Deadlines: Create an incentive for shoppers to take action by running your promotions for a limited time. One effective way to create time pressure is to include a countdown timer on your website or in your email campaign. Show your shoppers how many days, hours, and minutes are remaining for them to get a deal on their favorite items. 

  • Use FOMO (or fear of missing out): Scarcity drives shoppers to take action. In order to promote scarcity, it’s a good idea to highlight that certain items are limited or low in stock on your e-commerce site. If you do not have an online store, it’s a good idea to run Google Local Inventory Ads and specify that certain items have “limited availability”. You can do so by adjusting the input for the availability attribute for all relevant products. 

6) Run Google Local Inventory Ads

Google Local Inventory Ads

Multichannel and omnichannel shopping are quickly becoming the new reality of retail:

It turns out that these shoppers are more valuable too. According to the NRF, shoppers who used more than one way to look for deals spent up to $93 more than the single channel shopper. And according to a study done by IDC, multi-channel shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than those shoppers that only purchase from one channel

This Black Friday weekend, you can get in front of these multi-channel shoppers with Google Local Inventory Ads. These ads work by targeting nearby shoppers who are searching online for products that your store sells. Google LIAs are effective because they capture shopper intent at the moment that they are looking to purchase. 

Click here to learn how your store can easily implement Google LIAs together with your POS system to increase store sales and foot traffic. 


Good luck and have a Happy Thanksgiving weekend! 

Subscribe to our blog for more holiday marketing tips. 

#blackfriday #marketingtips #retailmarketing #holidaymarketing #increasestoresales 

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Google My Business Tips: Picking an Accurate Business Category

Google My Business Tips: Picking an Accurate Business Category

Once you’ve entered your business information in Google My Business (GMB), the next step is to pick an accurate business category. 

What is a Google My Business Category?

Your business category on your Google My Business listing is used to describe the type of business you operate (pet store, hardware store, grocery store etc.). 

It’s important to be specific when choosing your business category -the category you choose determines how local shoppers find you!

For example, if your primary category is “pet supply store”, your business will show up on Google when shoppers search for “pets”,”pet food”, or “pet supplies” in the area. 

Important Things to Note 

  • You can only select 1 primary category for your GMB listing.This is the category that people see on your business listing. It is also the most important – Google prioritizes your primary category in it’s search algorithm. 
primary category example
  • You can select up to 9 additional categories (other than your primary category) to describe your business. Focus on selecting the most relevant and specific categories for your business. 

  • You can’t create your own category. It is best to choose a more general category if you cannot find the one that you had in mind. 

  • Google can detect category information about your retail business from across the internet (including your own website and other mentions from across the web). 

Best Practices for Choosing a Business Category 

Google provides specific guidelines on how to choose a business category. 

Which can be broken down into the following points: 

1) Be as specific as possible when choosing a primary category. The more specific you are when choosing your primary category, the less local stores/businesses you will be competing against. For example, if you sell gift baskets, choose “gift basket store” instead of “gift store”.

2) Your primary category and additional categories should describe your retail business as a whole. Don’t add additional categories in an attempt to list all of your products, amenities, and services. For example, if you run a furniture business that also includes a pastry shop, avoid adding the category “pastry shop”. Instead, the pastry shop owner should claim their own listing and choose “pastry shop” as their primary category. Google suggests that you select categories that complete this statement: “This business IS a” rather than “this business HAS a”.  

3) Try minimizing the amount of additional categories that you add. Although you may be tempted to select as many categories as possible, it’s important not to. Doing so will negatively impact your store’s local ranking. Only choose categories that directly apply to your business!

Note: Skip adding categories that seem redundant. Again, you should focus on adding the categories that are most specific to your business. Google will do the rest of the work! For example, if you choose the category “children’s furniture store”, Google will implicitly add more general categories like “furniture store” and “children’s store”. 

For more information, on how to choose a business category, click here

How to Choose/Edit/Add a Business Category

1. Sign in to Google My Business here

2. Click on the “Info” tab on the left. 

info bar on google my business

3. Click on the pencil icon beside your primary category. 

pencil icon

4. Once you click on the pencil icon, you can either change your primary category or add additional categories.

primary and additional categories

5. Click on “Apply” in the right corner of the pop up screen. If the changes that you have made are significant, Google may ask you to verify your business again.

apply category changes

To learn more about the factors that affect your local search ranking, click here

#googlemybusiness #businesscategories #localseo #localsearchranking #foottraffic #cloudpos #retailpos 

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