Eight ways to navigate your way through a weak retail climate


Everywhere you look in retail there’s a gloomy outlook. Mid-market to lower-value retail stores are on the decline with closures every month and recent ABS retail turnover reports continue to show a subdued environment. July 2019 turnover fell 0.1% compared to July 2018, with only two out of the six categories (food and household goods) seeing a slight increase.

Faced with cautious spending, how can retail small businesses continue to be sustainable and get into a positive position leading into the Christmas spending season? By capitalising on what we already have, engaging with our audience both offline and online, and utilising the channels that are available.

Mix it up

It’s important to change things regularly to stand out. Change your window displays fortnightly to attract new and returning customers. Use strong in-store visuals like displays, signage, or showcase a branded campaign with visual merchandising. Create seasonal and occasional displays. Your customers are looking for a solution to their problem, whether that is finding the perfect gift or a special outfit. 

Up-sell at the counter

While not SMEs, Cotton On Group and McDonald’s are great examples of up-selling well. Can you add a small-ticket item like a store bag or a free gift to increase the customer spend?

Keep it appealing

Maintaining your store is a must as first impressions last. Whether you’re a café, in fashion, travel or beauty, consider warm, inviting colours in-store. Customers want a positive in-store experience rather than a dull, clinical one.

Be friendly

Nothing can harm the chance of a potential sale more than poor customer service. Maintaining a friendly nature will increase the likelihood of your customers returning. What’s the atmosphere like in your store? Is it inviting? If not, then it’s time to make a few changes.

It’s all about multi-channels

What if I told you there was a way to target your customer before they even stepped foot in your store?  Digital marketing is a cost-effective way to build customer loyalty while your customer is online. Today, retail and marketing have become “customer-centric” so communication that highlights the value that your store or products offer is crucial.

Spin your web

A website allows customers to window-shop your products and services in their own time.

  1. Customers learn more about your business, products and services.
  2. It captures potential customers through remarketing and builds brand credibility.
  3. It allows for sales when your store physical store is closed.
  4. “Click and collect” opportunities drive traffic into your physical store.

Your website should be easy to view and navigate on a mobile device. Even if you don’t have the budget to set up an online store, capturing potential customers through a sign-up landing page can help to build a loyal customer base.

Socialise with your potential customers

Social Media is the most popular of marketing channels for small-business users. However, whilst Facebook Ads help expand your reach, it’s important to note that your initial round of advertising won’t sell many products (if any). After all, you wouldn’t introduce yourself to a new person and automatically sell your products at a function or event, would you? You want to get to know each other first, so the same goes for your social-media strategy. Just posting images won’t help build your brand, however, so, engage the services of a social-media manager or work with a social-media advisor.

Get into the inbox

Email Marketing will help you build your database without solely relying on social media. This is where you can offer special benefits as a reward for loyalty such as VIP days, special offers and discounts. Remember, you’re not just competing with other bricks and mortar, many online-only stores already use digital marketing channels. However, if you are to capture your audience and encourage them to visit your store, consider multiple marketing opportunities (both offline and online) and it won’t cost your entire month’s marketing budget.

By using these channels and techniques, you’ll show the two biggest virtues that help build a brand’s growth in today’s value driven climate, loyalty and trust, and you will be more likely to see sales and foot traffic through your door even when the retail climate is weak.

Demelza Leonard, digital marketing and social media expert