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Top 6 Holiday Marketing Tips For Retail Stores On A Tight Budget

Top 6 Holiday Marketing Tips For Retail Stores On A Tight Budget

As holiday season approaches, you should start to consider what to stock your shelves with and how to merchandise it. Now that most cities and regions have fully re-opened, you should expect more foot traffic in your store and more shoppers ready to spend money during the biggest shopping season of the year.

In order to capture shoppers’ attention, you will need to stand out. With supply chain issues affecting big box stores that import more from abroad this year, local businesses have the room to thrive and stay competitive during this busy season. We will introduce you to some of our selling tactics for this season to make sure that there is a steady flow of people coming in and out of your store.

Put new seasonal items at the front of the store to encourage customers to make impulse purchases

Merchandising is especially important during the holidays. The right strategies can make a world of a difference when trying to sell seasonal products such as greeting cards, decorations and gifts.

Make sure that you prominently showcase new or seasonal products by highlighting them in signs around the store and featuring them in any window displays. Make customers feel welcome and at-home when they browse in your store. You can also create a display at the checkout area that features seasonal low-ticket items that people would buy impulsively such as winter lip balm, hand cream, and stocking stuffers.

Put any discounted items (e.g. last season holiday goods) at the back to drive customers further into your store

Placing sale items at the back of the store means that you are able to capture shoppers looking for a bargain by making them walk through the entire store and see your entire catalog of items on display. Studies have shown that this encourages shoppers to buy more on impulse.

A lot of pharmacies or supermarkets use this strategy by placing bulky “loss-leaders” such as toilet paper (products sold at cost or even under cost to attract shoppers into the store) at the back of stores to encourage shoppers to use a shopping cart since this will make it easier for shoppers to browse for a longer period of time and pick up higher-margin products.

Package products that aren’t selling as well together

Make holiday gift packs to move slow moving products. Make sure to highlight the value of the gift pack (e.g. how much is saved versus buying the items individually)!

Grouping similar items together can make them seem more appealing to shoppers. In some cases, it can even increase the selling price of certain products! Attractive packaging can increase the perceived value of certain products. Festive packaging also adds to the overall look of the store and makes gifting easier for shoppers who do not want to wrap their gifts. Since convenience is important to many shoppers, this can directly impact holiday sales.

Deck out your store and online channels with seasonal and/or festive decorations

Put up inclusive holiday decorations to make sure that you do not alienate any customers while trying to create a festive spirit. A popular theme is decorating the store based on the seasons (example: Winter-themed décor and trinkets for December). Pinterest is a great starting point to get inexpensive DIY ideas if you’re on a tight budget.

Offer products that aren’t selling well as a gift with purchase

This is another way to move products that aren’t selling as well as expected. Make sure to have a minimum purchase amount to drive larger orders. This is also an easy one to offer in-store and online. Generally speaking, it’s good to have free gift offers with all channels but make sure your higher value gifts are reserved for in-store sales since shoppers buy when they can see everything you offer in person.

Use QR codes on your storefront window to keep selling even when your store is closed

Instead of turning off the lights and calling it a day, use your physical storefront to showcase holiday sweepstakes or promotions. One way to do this is by using QR codes in your storefront displays to make it easy for customers passing by to shop for items impulsively and learn more directly in your online store.

Once customers are in your online store and have added items to their cart, even if they don’t buy right away, you are able to send them retargeting emails (emails that remind them that they still have items in their cart ready for online checkout) and let them know about future promotions.


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3 Ways Your Phone Can Bring In More Business

3 Ways Your Phone Can Bring In More Business

Since 2015, almost 50% of all web traffic happens on mobile phones. In 2020, this rose to almost 55%. As mobile phones play a more important part of peoples’ lives, retailers need to use this to their advantage. This means being aware of the way your business shows up online and using the right tools to attract shoppers. Whether it is paying attention to social media, customer reviews, building a website, or taking payments remotely, business owners today need to use technology to help grow their business.

Mobile Friendly Websites Get You Noticed

One of the (FREE) effective ways that you can show up higher on search engines like Google is by having a mobile responsive website. This basically means a website that looks good on smaller screen sizes such as those on mobile smartphones.

After all, a website has more functions than just allowing people to shop online. While having an online store is no doubt helpful, a website is also a calling card for shoppers to see and experience the store brand. It can even be a 24/7 catalog for people browsing online. Store websites help direct traffic to physical stores which gives retailers more opportunity to upsell shoppers.

70% of shoppers surveyed by Google said that they did online research or looked up a retailer online at one point before stepping into a store or purchasing an item. Because the majority of this research happens on mobile phones, digital marketing for a retailer must include improving the mobile experience for shoppers to drive more customers into stores.

In order to show up online, feel free to check out our best local SEO practices blog post to learn more about how you can show up higher on local search results.

Compete With Big Box Retailers Online

Since 2015, there has been a 500% increase in online searches that contain the words “near me” and “to buy.” Shoppers want to find things near them when searching online. In the same Google study, “open now” searches went up by 3x.

What does this mean for physical retailers? It means that being online gives you a chance to compete with big box stores that sell similar or same products.

Example: A shopper searches for “Acana dog food near me” and sees the following results. Though national chains do show up here, it gives smaller retailers a chance to compete. They can do this by highlighting how close they are, showcasing their products and showing competitive pricing. As shoppers are motivated by convenience and distance, this information can determine whether or not they step into your store.

Ruffin's Pet Centre Google Shopping listings

Google’s Local Inventory Ads feature helps you show up higher on search results online. In short, Local Inventory Ads (LIA) showcases product and store information to shoppers nearby who are searching for specific or similar products. This is a great platform for retailers who sell barcoded products.

People Don’t Want To Figure Out Your Website

People who land on your website want convenience. 60% of people won’t return to a website if it is hard to use or not mobile responsive (easy to read on every screen size). People value convenience and want to have easy access to information. Shoppers won’t stay on websites that do not function properly on their screens. This is why mobile friendliness is particularly important to retailers who want to increase their visibility online.

Expert Tip: For PC users, you can click F12 > Select a different screen size to test out how your website is shown online on other devices.

TAKU Retail mobile responsiveness


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How To Plan For Pre, Peak, and Post-Holiday Shopping

How To Plan For Pre, Peak, and Post-Holiday Shopping

October to December marks the peak shopping season for retail stores. It’s a time when many retailers plan for an increase in shoppers. As the world moves out of the global pandemic, retailers need to be ready for customers with new shopping behaviors.

Pre-Holiday

According to a Google study, 70% won’t consider purchasing something without seeing it online: whether it is an ad, browsing through a website, social media, or email newsletter. This means that retailers need to start ramping up on their online efforts early: whether it is sending weekly newsletters or updating social media on a regular basis, “online storefronts” are more important than ever to shoppers.

Think With Google, 2021

People often flip between discovery (window-shopping) and shopping (looking for products mainly based on functions or features) until they are ready to make a purchasing decision. Of the two, discovery is more emotional and can often override the rational thinking behind shopping. Which is why online “pre-shopping” discovery is so important to the entire shopping process now.

A Statista survey showed that up to 50% of people are planning to do their holiday shopping in-stores. This means that retailers need to be ready to showcase new merchandise and discounts online to shoppers even before they make it to the stores.

Retailers need to gather more customer reviews so that they appear higher than their competitors on Google searches. Read more on how to get more customer reviews here.

Peak-Holiday

In 2020, up to 79% of people left their holiday shopping until one-week before Christmas. This is good news for retailers because they are able to push their efforts to the very last minute. The same study showed that 64% of shoppers planned to shop in-stores. After more than a year of restrictions, people are eager to get out. This is great for physical stores that are able to target shoppers when they’re nearby.

Convenience plays a huge role in purchasing decisions today. “Now near me” searches have grown 100% worldwide. Options for store-managed e-commerce have also increased a lot. Because some shoppers will always leave holiday shopping until the last minute, local stores have a major advantage. After all, everybody has experienced shipping delays given the increase in online shopping. Instead, more local shoppers are searching for ways to buy online and pickup in store (BOPIS) to avoid delays.

The key to successfully offering store pickup for online orders is inventory accuracy. This means using store operations software that offers real-time stock information in-store and online. One way to make sure that your store appears online is to use Google’s free product listings and Local Inventory Ads (LIA). Learn more about how to increase foot traffic to stores with Google here.

For last minute shoppers, retailers can offer store pickup. Not only does this avoid delivery delays, it helps encourage shoppers to purchase extra items when they come to the store for their orders. Make sure that your order pickup area is well-merchandised with suitable impulse products. And consider switching to an order pickup system that will allow staff to checkout customers. There’s nothing worse than losing sales from a in-store shopper just because a customer doesn’t want to line up again to pay.

Post-Holiday

13% of all retail purchases end up being returned. This means that retailers could be juggling huge losses in January. In the US, 1.75 million packages were returned in January 2021, and that does not include returns in store!

Keeping the return process simple and painless is key. It is especially important for retailers to create an easy process as 89% shoppers who have difficult return experiences will not shop at the same store again.

As the holiday frenzy winds down, retailers should cycle back to the pre-holiday selling tactics and tips to gear themselves up for another selling season. Read more about our off-season marketing strategies here.


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How To Reduce Post-Holiday Shopping Returns

How To Reduce Post-Holiday Shopping Returns

In 2018, $400 billion worth of inventory was returned; of this number, $95 billion worth of goods were returned after the holidays. This means that 25% of all returned items were returned within the span of one month. UPS estimates that over one million returns are made daily in December from purchases made earlier in the year.

As January rolls in, people will be more careful about money after the busiest spending months of the year. There will be a lot of returns that take place both online and in physical stores. You will need to prepare for this and find new ways to tackle loss prevention too.

receipt returns shopping

Rewrite And Reconsider Different Return Policies

You need to communicate your return and exchange policies to customers both in-store and on all receipts. Make sure you have your policies posted around the store and the checkout area so that staff also understand them. Some important things to remember when writing them are being clear about:

  • acceptable return windows
  • condition of items
  • type of items that can be returned (eg. some stores will not allow cosmetics and intimate items to be returned), return fees, etc.

Being clear about policies can reduce stress for both staff and angry shoppers post-holidays.

Examples: Zara employees tell shoppers their return / exchange policies during checkout. The policies are also printed and circled on their receipts. Zara also offers a short window of exchange for regular-priced items so that people do not keep returning seasonal items for new releases. Having these rules in place are especially important for stores that carry seasonal items. Canadian Tire does not offer returns or exchanges on Christmas trees past December 24.

Retail tip: When processing returns, you should cross out items on shoppers’ receipts and take down their information so that you can see if there is a history of similar behavior. This will help with loss prevention.

Encourage People To Exchange Items Instead

You should minimize refunds because they are a net loss. Besides damage to the products themselves, one of the main costs of returns is bank processing fees. Banks charge fees for purchases as well as refunds by card. In other words, you end up paying twice the fees when refunding money to customers.

While you might offer refunds in your policies, you can minimize your losses by offering shoppers an exchange instead. That way, instead of losing money, you still have a chance to keep the sale or in the best case scenario, make more money.

Retail tip: Offer Buy Online Return in Store (BORIS) so that people can still shop around before they return their products. Shoppers are more likely to buy more or exchange their items in-store. This also gives you a chance to introduce new items to them or impress them with your customer service.

retail holiday shopping

Automate The Process

Shoppers are more likely to return to businesses when they have a good return experience. Whether you sell in-store or omnichannel, retailers need clear return policies and systems in place to handle returns smoothly. You should also make it easy for people to return both online and in-store. This helps nudge customers back into your store in the future. Plus, since you already have their personal information, you are able to send retargeting ads and emails to them about upcoming sales and store events.

Retail tip: You need to get shoppers’ consent before sending them SMS messages or emails.

Resell Merchandise At A Discounted Price

Instead of throwing products away, stores can offer any imperfect items at a discounted price. This lets you keep selling things that would otherwise be wasted.

Example: Best Buy offers both customers the option of buying open-box and refurbished items at a discounted price. This is especially important for high-ticket items such as electronics. Amazon offers different prices for used or returned products based on their condition (used, used-good, etc.). These retailers are able to keep selling products even after the products have been returned.


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Retail Marketing: Halloween Marketing Ideas

Retail Marketing: Halloween Marketing Ideas

Retailers are beginning to prepare for the holiday shopping rush, starting with Halloween. 

Prosper Insights & Analytics has reported that 2020 Halloween had an estimated spending of $8.05 billion which means that this is the perfect opportunity to kickstart your store’s marketing efforts before the holidays.

Halloween By The Numbers

Based on the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2020 Annual Halloween Spending Survey, almost 74% of shoppers aged 18-44 plan on celebrating the festive season this year – spending an average of $92.12 per person

The post popular items that shoppers are planning on purchasing include candy (95.66%), costumes (67%), decorations (76.16%), and greeting cards (39.66%)

With these numbers in mind, we’ve put together a list of Halloween marketing ideas. Keep reading to find out how you can take advantage of these insights and sell more this Halloween season!

4 Halloween Marketing Ideas To Help You Sell More

1) In-Store Merchandising 

pumpkin display halloween

28% of shoppers plan on gathering shopping inspiration from inside physical retail stores. 

Get shoppers through your door by displaying your seasonal merchandise (whether you plan on using an entire aisle or a single point-of-purchase display) at a prominent location.  Use proper signage to lead shoppers to your Halloween-themed merchandise and displays, will also make them more likely to purchase.   

Not selling Halloween-themed products? You can still decorate your store with some festive decorations and visual merchandising. Think about creating a window or point-of-purchase display that showcases products that you already sell – but with a twist. You can use spider webs, jack-o-lanterns, leaves, and fall colours (black, orange, red etc.) to spook things up. 

bats Halloween window display

2) Use Your Online Presence Effectively

Halloween pumpkins

35% of shoppers site online search as their source of Halloween shopping inspiration. Dress up your physical store for Halloween and add festive elements to your online presence as well. 

Completely revamping your store’s website is time-consuming and in some cases, it can be expensive. But adding a Halloween touch to your website can go a long way in getting shoppers in a festive spirit. Including Halloween images on your homepage, fixing themed add-ons, and adding pop-up designs are all cost-effective and easy ways to add a spooky feel. 

You can also drive more shoppers to your website by creating a separate page (a landing page) dedicated to Halloween. Here are a few tips: 

  • Create a Halloween gift guide for your shoppers that features all of your Halloween merchandise. If you don’t sell Halloween merchandise, consider posting helpful Halloween content. Some good content or blog post ideas include: “Halloween costume ideas for children”, “Halloween decor ideas”,”DIY costumes for adults”, and “tips for hosting a Halloween party”. 
  • Use Halloween keywords (this will help your store appear higher up in search). 
  • Promote any seasonal discounts or promotions that you are holding. 

Don’t forget to decorate your social media and email marketing campaigns for Halloween as well!

3) Google Local Inventory Ads (LIAs)

Google Local Inventory Ad

Considering that the majority of shoppers are planning to use a search engine as a source for shopping inspiration, it is also a good idea to run local inventory ads on Google. These ads are tailored to users based on their location. With these ads, shoppers will see in-stock product of local retailers in the area. 

Here are a few tips for optimizing your Google LIA campaigns: 

  • Target mobile shoppers: shoppers are searching on their phone before visiting physical stores to ensure that their trip is worth it. In fact, 86% of Canadian shoppers said they will go to the store to buy when that store has an item they need or want immediately. You can target mobile shoppers by placing a positive mobile bid adjustment to your campaigns. It’s best to boost ad groups/campaigns that have strong mobile performance. 
  • Adjust for high traffic hours: while you want to keep ads active 24/7, it is a good idea to boost ad performance during high traffic hours. This includes the hours that your store is open and when your shoppers are most likely to search. 
  • Consider physical location: Users closest to your store (20-35 km radius) are much more likely to visit than others who are. Target local shoppers by increasing bids for users that are closest to your store. 

For more information on how your retail store can easily implement Google LIAs to increase foot traffic and sales, click here

4) Add Halloween Products 

Halloween treats

If your store doesn’t sell any Halloween merchandise, you can consider selling seasonal items to boost your store sales.

The following are some good examples of how retailers can add in popular seasonal offerings: 


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Sell More: Post-COVID Black Friday Marketing Tips For Retailers

Sell More: Post-COVID Black Friday Marketing Tips For Retailers

Thanksgiving weekend (from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday) is one of the biggest shopping events of the year. Black Friday will look different this year as more COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted. It will be a chance for shoppers to re-emerge in store to do their shopping.

This is the perfect opportunity for retailers to attract more shoppers with Black Friday marketing to increase store visits and sales. To take full advantage of the holiday weekend, retailers need to be prepared to meet shopper demand and expectations.

Despite the impact of the pandemic, Black Friday sales in 2020 were surprisingly strong. Although brick-and-mortar stores saw a decline in foot traffic and sales, 2020 was a year for e-commerce. According to Adobe Analytics, online sales in the US went up by a whopping 21.6% from the previous year.

From the same survey, it was reported that 44% of consumers planned to shop small and support local retailers. Compared to previous months, local retailers did see a 545% increase in sales around Black Friday. This is good news for local retailers who want to take advantage of the spending season.

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

6 Retail Store Marketing Tips

1) Improve Your Local Online Presence 

Review your online presence for Black Friday weekend

Research shows that shoppers are looking to Google and conducting searches even more now prior to visiting physical stores. This shows that valid and accurate online information make it easier for shoppers to purchase in-store. This means that, even without an online store, it’s important to improve your online presence.

If your business cannot easily be found online, there’s a large chance that you are losing out on potential shoppers to your competitors. Here is a quick checklist that will help you review 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).
  • If you’ve moved or want to be found on more local directories, sign up for a one-time local listing service through services such as The Hoth or Fat Joe.
  • Encourage or even offer a small incentive to get your happy customers to leave a positive review on your Google My Business store profile. Make sure that you reply to customer reviews whether they are good or bad. 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. 
  • Retailers with websites need to make sure that their websites are mobile-friendly. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly test to check how easy it is for shoppers to view your website on their mobile phones.

2) Engage With Shoppers After The Holiday 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.

This means that in order to capture this chunk of customers, retailers should build on the existing interest and run promotions or events even after the Black Friday weekend. To reach as many shoppers as possible, run email marketing campaigns possibly together with digital marketing ads to promote your unique products and deals! 

3) Partner Up With A Local Business 

partner up with a local business during Black Friday

It’s hard for small retailers to compete with big-box stores on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Slashing prices in an attempt to increase traffic and sales just isn’t good for your profit margins. But with 65% of shoppers indicating that good deals are their main motivation for Black Friday weekend 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 another retailer 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 in-store or online events: You can also team up with local businesses to host special events. For example, you could partner up with a nearby 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

Black Friday exclusive offers

Black Friday is a great opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your most loyal shoppers. After all, they are best customers and the ones most interested in your products.

By adding exclusivity to your email marketing campaigns, you increase psychological rewards like a sense of belonging and importance. This is why exclusivity makes your promotional offers appear more attractive to shoppers vs. simply pricing and encourages them to visit your store.

Remember – shoppers receive too many emails during this time of year. So make your emails stand out with:

  1. Clear offers in the subject line (for example: Exclusive VIP Sale) 
  2. Personalized subject lines (personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened). Or, you could include the shopper’s first name in the email opening line. 
  3. A short, simple, and to the point message. 

 5) Promote Urgency

Promote urgency during black Friday

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

6) Highlight Stock Availability

Google Local Inventory Ads for Black Friday

Stock availability is a type of FOMO or “Fear Of Missing Out” that encourages shoppers to take action. It’s a good idea to emphasize that certain items are limited or low in stock in your marketing campaigns or 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 take advantage of digital marketing that helps you promote automatically based on product availability. If your POS is linked directly to these type of Google Ads, stock availability will adjust based on real-time shelf quantities and save you the hassle of manual updates.

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. 

Omnichannel Shopping Are The New Reality Of Retail

It turns out that these shoppers are more valuable too. 73% of shoppers are not just shopping either fully online or in-store. These people are called omnichannel shoppers who go through their buying experience in more than one way. 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 another study, multi-channel shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than those shoppers that only purchase from one channel.

Regardless of what stage you are at, moving your retail business online, consider the strategies above to improve how well you serve your customers online this year during the all-important holiday shopping season.


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