Through the years retailing has evolved, competition has gotten stiff and therefore marketing has become more integral in the direct selling of wares. From specialty mom-and-pop shop to mass-merchants, the methods by which stores are getting their products into the hands of customers are evolving. Because customers have more choices, stores have to reach them with advertising, entice them with promotions, and secure them with branding—hence the ever-growing need for marketing in retail outlets.
There are two main functions of advertisements: to sell more products, and to inform the customer. Through newspaper, TV, radio and internet advertisements, retailers can inform their customers of the sales, promotions and in-store events. Moreover, since the media is flooded with advertisements, the ability to create a more eye-catching or attention-grabbing ad directly influences sales. Stores that advertise--as opposed to those that don’t--are kept at the top of their potential shoppers’ mind, which can produce sales in the short and long term.
Stores use promotions to prompt impulse buying behavior. A shopper may not intend to buy a product, but if there is a promotion, there is an incentive for immediate action. For example, a shopper may not need another dress shirt, but might still buy one if it is on sale. Additionally, promotions can prompt consumers to recall a product and thus instigate a purchase. Retailers also use promotional periods-- corresponding with national holidays or well-know sales times--to sell off the previous season’s merchandise. Promotional periods spike sales, and are a way retailers can reduce the loss of unsold inventory
In-Store Atmosphere and Customer Relations
Store design and consumer relationship marketing (CRM) directly affected the way customers purchase and retain goods. Things like the atmosphere, music, store layout, sales help, and post-purchase support can influence things like shopping time (the longer they shop, the more likely they are to buy), and how gratified they feel with their purchase. The more content a buyer is with their shopping experience, the more likely they are to buy merchandise, and the less likely they are to return it.
Branding Retail Outlets
It is necessary for retailers to develop their brand in order to stand out amongst the many other stores. With local boutiques, specialty stores, department stores, mass-merchants and internet stores, customers have more choices when it comes to buying. There is competition within each category, and competition between categories. For example, a local boutique selling dress shirts is competing with other local boutiques, and also with the mass-merchant who might be selling dress shirts at a cheaper price. It is therefore necessary for the boutique to create a brand position that a customer can identify with, to keep them loyal.
Solidifying a retail brand’s private label is the apex of the retail marketing evolution--and the most recent trend in high-end retailing. This is not a new concept for low- to mid-priced retail outlets, as everything from food to raincoats have been put under their brand's name. But what's new is stores that build their brand to the point where they can sell merchandise at a premium price. Doing so is more cost effective: they can reduce the costs associated with buying other brand names, source cheaper goods from private manufacturers and reap higher profits. As an added bonus, stores benefit from consumer loyalty to their stores and their products.