50 search results for “Alexandra Sheehan”

Valentine’s Day Gifts: How to Cash in on the First Retail Holiday of the Year

Valentine’s Day Gifts: How to Cash in on the First Retail Holiday of the Year

Valentine's Day gifts | Shopify Retail blogI recently went grocery shopping at my local Alfalfa’s Market, a locally owned natural food store. With the day of love almost here, aisles and product displays were adorned with themed decor to promote an assortment of Valentine’s Day gifts.

Laminated hearts were stuck on shelves and racks throughout the store: “OLIVE YOU” said the one at the fresh olives station, and a heart reading “SOMETHING SWEET” was placed next to all the chocolates.

It was a small effort by Alfalfa’s to appeal to shoppers for the first consumer holiday of the year, yet it showed they’re in tune with their customer. Almost half of consumers spend the holiday at home, and nearly one-third of Americans cooked a meal at home for Valentine’s Day, according to one study. Alfalfa’s was giving fun, visual cues as to which products to buy to make a romantic at-home meal.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts American consumers alone will spend a “near recording-breaking” $19.6 billion this year on Valentine’s Day. There are many creative ways your retail business can cash in on the rush. Below, read about how to get in on the action.

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10 Retail Experts Share Their Secrets to Successful Product Branding

10 Retail Experts Share Their Secrets to Successful Product Branding

Product branding | Shopify Retail blogA strong brand identity leads to a strong impression on consumers. Your brand identity defines not only who your brand is, but every single interaction a customer has with your brand — online and in-store.

Brand identities have a major impact on consumers. But products can have their own identities, too. Product branding is when marketers introduce a product to the public with its own unique identity. This can be with the product name, logo, design — any aspect of the product that differentiates itself from all else.

In such cases, the parent company — the brand — becomes more obsolete, while the product identity is of more significance. In a sense, these branded products can be considered mini-brands or extensions of the parent company.

Product branding emphasizes the commodity rather than the umbrella of the brand under which it exists. It’s a strategic tactic retailers can take if they have a product that fits the bill: It’s noteworthy and significant, or one of a few products in a line. If your business has a ton of dime-a-dozen products, it’s likely not worth the effort.

But product branding can be tricky. That’s why we asked 10 retail experts to share their secrets to successful product branding.

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10 Ideas to Help Retailers Reach New Audiences (and New Customers)

10 Ideas to Help Retailers Reach New Audiences (and New Customers)

Reaching new retail audiences | Shopify Retail blogYou’ve identified your target audience. You’ve tailored marketing messages to them and hit all your sales goals. But now you want to reach new audiences and tap into new customer bases.

Maybe your current customer base has hit a wall with spending, or external factors have made your products undesirable to a specific segment. And if you want to scale your retail business, growing your customer base is one major key to success.

There are plenty of creative ways to tap into new audiences and grow your customer base. From creative social advertising techniques to simple referral programs, here are 10 ideas on how you can reach new customers.

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4 Ways to Differentiate Your Retail Business to Rise Above Your Competition

4 Ways to Differentiate Your Retail Business to Rise Above Your Competition

Differentiate your business | Shopify Retail blogMore than half a million small businesses open every year. While that number is encouraging for entrepreneurs, it can also be scary to already-established retailers.

With the competition growing, it’s becoming more important to find ways to stand out.

Differentiating your retail business from others in your industry can help you make a stronger impression among prospective customers — and attract more sales.

Finding ways to differentiate your business from the rest requires a little bit of research and creativity — there’s more to it than just offering great value. You need to take a holistic approach to make sure the entire brand experience differentiates your business and turns new customers into forever fans.

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7 Tactics to Help Physical Retailers Compete on Cyber Monday

7 Tactics to Help Physical Retailers Compete on Cyber Monday

Black Friday Cyber Monday 2017 | Shopify Retail blogIn 2005, Shop.org first announced Cyber Monday. At first, it was a way for online retailers to compete with the Black Friday sales in brick-and-mortar stores. But the online shopping holiday quickly grew in popularity.

In spite of its popularity (and ability to shop sales in your pajamas), Cyber Monday hasn’t made brick-and-mortar stores obsolete. In fact, many physical stores capitalize on the online-shopping day. About a third (30%) of consumers bought products online that they then picked up in-store last year, and 80% of spending was done in-store.

And while Cyber Monday sales increased 12% last year, in-store spending is also steadily rising. The key for brick-and-mortar retailers is to adapt to meet the needs of online shoppers and maintain a competitive edge so they can compete during the crucial Black Friday Cyber Monday weekend.

How can retailers accomplish this? Here are seven tactics to help physical stores get the most from Black Friday Cyber Monday and successfully compete with online-only stores.

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Creating Community: How Retailers Can Build an Engaged Customer Base

Creating Community: How Retailers Can Build an Engaged Customer Base

Building a community | Shopify Retail blogFor retailers, relationship-building is essential. Relationships build trust, and without trust, retailers have an uphill battle to making sales.

Nearly two-thirds of global consumers consider brand trust to be of great importance, and when retailers build that trust, they’re empowered to do much more than close a sale.

Brick-and-mortar retailers have the opportunity to create physical communities of those loyal customers. These communities provide tangible value that keep customers in stores longer, bring them back, and spread your brand story through word-of-mouth referrals. 

92% global consumers trust recommendations and imagine the amplification if you had a whole community of word-of-mouth marketers recommending your store to their friends and family.

But building community takes more than just building trust. It takes the right physical space, the right cause and dedication from your entire team. And here are some ways retailers can move forward with creating a community around your brand and building an engaged customer base as a result.

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Cutting Costs: 8 Ideas to Lower Retail Expenses Without Killing Product Quality

Cutting Costs: 8 Ideas to Lower Retail Expenses Without Killing Product Quality

Cutting costs in retail | Shopify Retail blogThe age-old question for most business owners is how to reduce expenses.

It’s an important, but not necessarily straightforward, issue to tackle. On one hand, there are endless ways to cut costs. But the flipside is sacrificing quality.

For many retailers, product quality is non-negotiable, even when cutting costs is necessary. And that’s a fair philosophy to stick to, considering customer satisfaction and loyalty are highly dependent upon product quality.

In fact, product quality is actually one of the biggest concerns for business managers across North America. But higher costs are often associated with higher quality, so retailers need to look at other facets of the business to reduce expenses that don’t affect their product.

Fortunately, there are cost-cutting methods retailers can lean on that don’t require a sacrifice in product quality. Here, we’ll round up a few of those methods for retailers to consider.

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Defining Your Audience: Strengthen Customer Messages With Target Marketing

Defining Your Audience: Strengthen Customer Messages With Target Marketing

Target marketing for retail | Shopify Retail blogTarget marketing is promoting brands, products and/or services to a defined audience based on that group’s consumer behavior.

Essentially, marketers define a group of consumers with commonalities, also referred to as market segmentation, and market specifically to them. The group’s characteristics are researched through consumer trends, case studies, existing sources of audience demographics, and customer feedback (interviews specific to building buyer personas, surveys, questionnaires, etc.)

From there, retailers and marketers can build and document buyer personas. Personas detail basic demographic information — age, gender, job, salary — as well as other common characteristics within that group. These traits may be both general and specific to your brand, product or service.

Once those personas, or audience segments, have been defined, it’s easier to market to those individuals. This helps to dictate messaging, which products you’ll market to whom, how you’ll reach them, and what pain points you can solve. The result is marketing efforts that are more relatable and resonate with each of your audience segments.

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Going Green: How to Save Energy and Cut Retail Business Expenses

Going Green: How to Save Energy and Cut Retail Business Expenses

How to save energy for retail | Shopify Retail blogRetailers spend almost $20 billion on energy every year.

That’s huge, especially considering small businesses spend more than $60 billion a year on energy — meaning the retail industry is responsible for a third of those energy costs. In fact, retail buildings incur more energy-related costs than any other commercial sector in America. And those stats alone are enough to make retailers consider how to save energy.

You might think that’s just part of the cost of doing business. But a 10% decrease in energy expenses has the potential to increase net profit margins by up to 16% in certain retail environments.

But going green isn’t just about cutting energy costs. There are other ways you can be a more environmentally friendly retailer, including things like going paperless and bagless. Below, we outline some ways you can get started going and earning green while learning how to save energy.

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How Multichannel Sales Can Help Your Retail Business Prosper

How Multichannel Sales Can Help Your Retail Business Prosper

Multichannel sales for retail | Shopify Retail blogMultichannel selling means making your product(s) available for purchase via more than one outlet. This includes both online — your ecommerce store, Amazon, eBay, Etsy, social media, etc. — and offline channels — your brick-and-mortar store, wholesale distributing to other stores, pop-up shops, etc.

As consumer behavior evolves, multichannel is more important than ever. Merchants can no longer focus their efforts entirely on offline or online sales — both are necessary. Retailers who don’t keep up risk missing out on the opportunity to capture additional sales. Only 7% of shoppers are online-only, compared to 73% who use multiple channels throughout their shopping experience. And what’s even more telling is that this year, 25% more consumers plan to buy online and pick up in-store during the holidays.

It’s no longer viable to be online-only or in-store-only. Not only do retailers need to have a presence on You need to have a cohesive experience across multiple channels to allow customers to buy anywhere, anytime.

Why Multichannel Sales Are Crucial

As noted above, consumer trends show that they’re increasingly using multiple channels throughout the purchase process.

But those aren’t the only numbers that are going up: Multichannel selling can also help you increase your bottom line. Retailers with two marketplaces for selling generate 190% more revenue than those with just one.

Despite this proven success, many retailers are slow to jump on multichannel sales. Almost two-thirds (73%) of retailers say multichannel is important to them, yet less than 40% have made it beyond the initial stages of creating the experience. This means there are plenty of opportunities for retailers to differentiate themselves from the competition.

The success in multichannel selling lies in being where your customers are. 82% of consumers conduct online research before making a purchase — be the source for that research. Offer well-written product descriptions with lots of detailed specs. If you’re not sure what kind of information customers want to know, turn to Google related searches or forums like Quora to see what phrases and common questions pop up.

Show pictures of your products in use and from multiple angles, including zoom functionality, so shoppers can see the small details of your product. Get more customers reviews and then publish them throughout your site, especially on product pages themselves.

Half of consumers compare prices online first; so consider offering price comparison tools on your site. You can build your own price-comparison API, and there are also plug-ins — like Product Compare and Product Differentiator — that serve this very purpose. 90% of shoppers use their mobile phones while in-store, so it behooves retailers to create their own mobile experience.

Instead of pushing customers where you want them to be, meet them where they already are. More importantly, anticipate their needs during each stage of the buying journey, and help them meet those needs.

FURTHER READING: It’s easier to anticipate your customers’ needs when you understand their buying journey. Learn how to create a customer journey map for your retail business.

How to Start Multichannel Selling

Start With Strategy

Multichannel sales for retail | Shopify Retail blog

Consider the channels you want to explore. Here’s a quick list to help get you started:

Offline Sales Channels

  • Brick-and-mortar stores (these are still important — although customers like to research online, almost half prefer to purchase in-store)
  • Pop-up shops
  • In-person selling events (markets, fairs, festivals, etc.)
  • Distributors/other retail stores that sell your product (i.e. wholesale)
  • Print catalogs

Online Sales Channels

  • Your online store/website
  • Social media
  • Third-party marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, or eBay (44% of consumers go directly to Amazon to search for a product, and Amazon has more average orders than any other third-party marketplace)
  • Comparison-shopping sites
  • Coupon sites

After you’ve nailed down what channels to explore, you’ll have to set a strategy and specific goals for each. Strategy helps you define goals against which you can measure success. Goals serve as the target towards which you’re working, and you can change those goals as new trends emerge or you see success on some channels rather than others.

Make sure you nail down your metrics for success (number of products sold, overall sales, engagement, clickthrough rates, site traffic, etc.) and set benchmarks to work toward for each channel. Document everything you want to accomplish, and how you plan to do it.

Understand Your Customers

Not all consumer groups are the same. It’s important to not only identify your target market, but to also understand their needs, how to talk to them, and how your brand and products serve them. From there, you can anticipate which channels your customers are using at different stages of their purchase process, as well as which audience segments are on which channels.

For example, Instagram users skew younger than Facebook users — so if you’re targeting 18–24-year-olds instead of consumers 60 years and above, Instagram would be the channel to prioritize of the two. Additionally, Amazon Prime members are typically wealthier, so if you have an affluent target market, consider making your products available for purchase through Prime.

Conducting some market research can help shed some light on your target customers, including their needs and preferences. From there, you can make informed decisions on which channels work best for your audience and your business.

Deliver a Consistent, Positive Experience

Multichannel sales for retail | Shopify Retail blogMultichannel selling isn’t just about generating new avenues to convert customers. It’s also about creating a consistent experience all of those channels. That means every channel should display consistent branding, offer a similar buying experience, and have cohesive customer service.

One survey found that almost 90% of companies plan to compete mostly on the customer experience alone. In fact, most consumers rank customer service as the No. 1 priority when purchasing from a brand, and poor customer service costs retailers $41 billion every year.

But what does it mean to deliver a consistent and positive experience? One way to approach it is the Golden Rule: Treat your customers as you would like to be treated by the brands you support. Remember that they are people, too, and when they’re treated as such, you have a better chance at capturing a loyal customer across multiple channels.

Take Michael Platco’s interaction with Warby Parker, for example. The Snapchat influencer shared to his public story about how his glasses broke while he was traveling. Warby Parker reached out with a researched solution (super glue would take around four hours to dry) plus a new pair of glasses. They were able to find his customer information and deliver a replacement of his exact prescription and style of glasses. That dedication to high-quality customer service started on Snapchat, moved to YouTube, and finally through fulfillment — but remained consistent across all of those channels.

Make Your Brand Stand Out

There are many ways to differentiate your brand. Having a strong brand identity gives consumers something to relate to. And when consumers have shared values with brands, 64% of consumers are more likely to build a relationship with you.

Want more guidance to get your brand to rise above the noise? Read our 4 tactics to difference your retail brand from the competition.

Implement the Right Tools

Expanding into multichannel selling means you have a lot more inventory to monitor, and sales to track, and data to analyze. Implement a point-of-sale system, inventory management, accounting, and other software that can not only fit your business needs now, but also your future needs.

Finding tools that can scale with your business and handle adding new (or removing old) selling channels is essential. The more you automate, the more time you can spend on growing your business.

Hire and Train the Right Team

With more selling channels also comes the need for more manpower. This comes in two main forms: In-house staff and outsourced contractors. For some business functions, such as accounting, you can hire experts. Retailers venturing into multichannel selling for the first time might look into hiring a tax professional to consider sales taxes and fees for each channel, as well as legal staff to understand any new legalities that come up with adding selling channels.

Internally, retailers need to have the right team in place to meet the needs of a growing and changing customer base. Warehouse and inventory management becomes more essential as retailers track sales for more than just their physical or online store.

Ensure your internal teams are communicating with one another, too. You don’t want the marketing team promoting a specific SKU when your warehouse team knows there are only a few left in stock.

For help hiring and training your employees, check out our article on retail staffing.

Start Small

Perhaps the best piece of advice for the retailer looking to get started with multichannel selling is to approach it one channel at a time. Don’t be afraid of failure — every new channel is just another opportunity to learn more about your business and the market.

Which channels did you try selling on first? Which channels have generated the most sales in your business?

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