If you’ve ever walked into a store and bought an item off the shelf, or shopped online with a retailer like Amazon, you’ve benefited from retail marketing. Put simply, retail marketing involves the entire process of getting a physical product into the hands of a consumer — from planning to promotion and everything in between.

Still, with advances in marketing and the ever changing digital landscape, retail marketing is nothing like what was fifteen, ten or even five years ago. Retail marketing has shifted to a more customer-centric model, with more than 54% of retailers saying that customer experience is their most important focus. Clearly retail marketing is evolving from the four P’s (product, price, place and promotion), to the four C’s, namely consumer, cost, convenience and communication. Let’s take a look at each of them, and how they relate to effective retail marketing.

Consumer

Before the customer became the central focus of retail marketing, retailers spent tons of resources perfecting a product as their first step. Now, the tables have turned. The most successful retailers create a product based on the needs of their consumer. By making the consumer the center of this process, success rates are higher.

The key to perfecting this step is going in depth. Great market research mitigates risks for retailers, and sets them up for retail marketing that doesn’t break the bank. How well you know the people you are targeting is directly related to how well your products do once they hit the market.

For example, think about Apple, the first trillion dollar company. They didn’t get there by creating products that they liked. Instead they used in-depth research and feedback from their existing customers to revolutionize the smart phone market. Everything from the packaging of each product, to the different models that cater to different market segments is an experience for the customer, and displays how well they know the people they cater to.

Cost

Customers have an ever-growing wealth of knowledge at their fingertips. A quick Google search can help them to find the items they are interested in, all at relatively the same price. Because of this, the monetary cost of the item, isn’t as important as value. With this in mind, consumers aren’t as easily tricked by psychological pricing and other tactics that retailers have used.

Instead, by presenting the value of an item to a consumer, retail marketing focuses more on the benefits of each item, and what they save versus purchasing the item from a competing business. Effective retail marketing involves more than just pricing products competitively.

Again, using Apple as an example, it is easy to understand how this retail marketing principle can be applied. Apple products are far from the cheapest on the market, they are actually some of the most expensive. Yet, they’ve managed to gain significant market share. The cost of each product they produce pales in comparison to the value of the product. They’ve been able to successfully sell the benefits of each product, including why it would cost you more to purchase from a competitor.

Convenience

Online shopping has made this ‘C’ the word on almost everyone’s lips. According to the Australia Post, by 2020 (AKA next year) 1 in every 10 items will be bought online. Gone are the days when businesses had to invest thousands on acquiring the perfect spot for their retail businesses. Instead, the internet has made convenience one of the most important factors in any consumer’s purchasing decision. Still, with more convenience comes new ways to optimize your marketing.

Retail marketing has to account for how convenient it is for a customer to make a purchasing decision. This involves how simple it is for them to the find the right product that suits their needs, how easy it is for them to complete their transaction, and how easy it is for them to access vital information about the product. By ensuring that all these areas are effectively executed, you can ace this aspect of retail marketing.

Take the example of Amazon. Despite an Australian launch that was lacking, Amazon is on track to dominate the Australian eCommerce market within the next seven years. This is largely in part to how well they are able to pull off the convenience aspect of retail marketing. With Amazon, “the customer is always right” takes on a whole new meaning. Fast shipping, ease of checkout, detailed product description and intuitive user experience design are some of the reasons why Amazon is currently giving Australian retailers (both online and off) a run for their money.

Communication

Presently, retail marketing involves less promotion than it did a few years ago. Promotion doesn’t properly explain the breadth of this retail marketing aspect, instead the term communication sheds more light. The average consumer isn’t moved by thinly veiled advertising attempts, instead retailers have to work a little bit harder to get customers through their doors (or on to their websites.)

Communication involves using social media, digital marketing, advertising and PR. By educating your customers and encouraging feedback (especially on social media) you’ll be creating the personal touch and “connection” that most customers crave.

Beardbrand is a stellar example of this retail marketing principle. They’re a company that produces a line of beard grooming products for men. In addition to making purchasing easy for customers, Beardbrand goes a step further and takes their customers on a journey. They provide them a treasure trove of valuable resources that educate and inform them— from blog posts, to a YouTube channel with more than one million subscribers. What sets them apart is that not every piece of content they create is meant to elicit a purchase decision. Instead, they have recognized and are capitalizing on the principle of communication.

With these four principles clear in mind, you can use effective retail marketing to make your retail business the best in its market. Which one of these principles has your business been nailing? Which one can you improve on? Let us know in the comments below.

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