Winter Retail Marketing Strategies that Pay Off

OK. The holidays are over and now the only shoppers visiting your store are returning or exchanging merchandise or getting post-New Year’s Day exercise by window shopping.  Savvy retailers have already made their winter retail marketing plans. But given today’s schizophrenic, tariff-stressed economy, the holiday momentum could either keep right on sailing or stop as cold as the Titanic. Retail experts and gurus have more suggestions than Santa has gifts on how to keep the customers coming and the cash registers humming. Here are a few that could help you avoid the mid-winter blues. 

Keep on Partying 

With the National Retail Federation forecasting holiday sales of approximately $730 billion and consumer confidence high, it’s not out of bounds to keep the holidays going with another sale! Many shoppers have addictive personalities, so some will be itching to get out of the house and back to the stores after New Year’s Day and a chance at more discounts helps feed those desires. 

“Shoppers buy from you not only because it’s the holiday season, but because of discounts. If you continue to provide discounts, then you’ll be able to win your customers back for a second round of bargain-basement prices,” marketing expert Neil Patel writes in his blog. 

Winter clearance sales are a good way to liquidate holiday overstocks and generate some foot and cash register traffic. Sometimes merchandise can be paired together – jackets and gloves, sweaters and caps, power tools and accessories – to create more desirable packages. 

Highlight your winter goods. In some climates, the cold or wet weather doesn’t hit until January, February or March, so a good post-holiday retail marketing strategy might be to play to your late seasonal strengths. 

Giveaways are another surefire way of attracting customers out on cold winter days. Shoppers love getting something for nothing and, again, if your store has any smaller, promotional items you may have over-bought for the holidays, give them away to draw people to your store. BOGOs – Buy One, Get One – sales are the most popular sales promotion in retail and attract shoppers like kids to candy. 

Invite Your New Friends 

The holidays are the perfect time to make new friends and add to your customer database. Signing up holiday shoppers on your store’s rewards or incentive programs are a great way to turn holiday shoppers into loyal return customers. Independent businesses can run customer loyalty programs every bit as effective as the big box stores through retail platform integrations. 

Roughly three-quarters of consumers prefer companies that offer rewards programs and about 65% of a company’s business comes from existing loyal customers. A recent report by Accenture Strategy shows that 73% of consumers are willing to share personal information to receive offers or discounts if the stores or brands are transparent in how they use that information. 

The benefit of loyal customers is nothing new. It is well established in retail that it costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep an existing customer happy. Rewards programs are a valuable tool in keeping good customers happy. However, unless you’re a big-box or multi-store business, starting one may seem overwhelming. 

Independent businesses can utilize third-party providers like RepeatRewards to set up programs that offer the same kinds of incentives as the big boxes. Some retail technology providers also offer rewards programs that put a store’s sales data to work to manage customer relations. Retail marketing outreach can be done through email, text or direct mail offers. 

So, when you’re collecting all that consumer data during the holidays, put it to use in the New Year to build business and boost winter sales 

Create an Event 

Just because the holidays are over that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to celebrate.  

National Science Fiction Day (Jan. 3), National Spaghetti Day (Jan. 4), National Bobble Head Day (Jan. 7), National Cut Your Energy Costs Day (Jan. 10), National Pharmacist Day (Jan. 12), National Pie Day (Jan. 23) and National Peanut Butter Day (Jan. 24) are just a few days besides New Year’s Day to celebrate in January.  

Notable January birthdays to celebrate include Paul Revere, Betsy Ross, Elvis Presley, George Foreman of boxing and grilling fame, Muhammad Ali, Ben Franklin, Oliver Hardy, Janis Joplin, John Hancock, Wolfgang Mozart and W.C. Fields. 

Hosting drop-off sites for food or clothing drives, pet adoptions, recycling drives or fundraising barbecues can draw people to a business and bolster its image and reputation in the community. 

Hosting retailer events allow businesses to show off new products or services and can be highly successful. The National Retail Federation reports that 82% of shoppers attending these events in 2018 said they would be interested in doing it again.  Events that draw consumers in are: 

Early/exclusive access to new or sale items – 87%

A party – 81%

Product demonstrations or tutorials – 80%

Games or competitions – 71%

Interacting with brand ambassadors or industry experts – 69%

Pop-up shops – 69%

Brighten Up the Winter Gloom  

There are some easy and inexpensive ways to lighten up your retail life, too. Leslie Hildula, business advisor and retail programs lead at Portland Community College’s Small Business Development Center, offers some simple ideas to brighten any store.  

Lights. In many regions of the country, winter is gray, wet at least, dark and cold. Adding lights to outside or window displays can attract shoppers like a bug light.  

Signs.Sign anything to attract people,” she says. New products, winter clearance items, anything that can feature a sign should have one. 

Stores can jump-start their signage by using dynamic digital displays. Marketing software like Ez-Ad offers ways to pull information from a retail platform and the internet onto in-store video monitors. The displays can feature new product demonstrations, in-house or YouTube DIY videos, and more. The software also provides real-time product price comparisons available on mobile devices which allows associates to help customers and close sales.  

Action. Variety is the spice of life. Change up your floor and window displays regularly to make your shopping experience a journey of discovery. Walk the sales floor and talk to customers and get to know them. Find out if they’re browsers or looking for specific items. If they buy, sign them up for a rewards program to boost your customer database. 

No matter how you chose to spend the winter months, just know that there are many retail marketing strategies that can warm up your cash registers. 

Brian Bullock

Author