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Modern Day Retail Marketing

Modern Day Retail Marketing

Introduction

Retail Marketing has become one of the most commonly found forms of marketing in the modern day marketing scenario. It allows the retailers to establish a strong relationship with the consumers and it allows the consumers to acquire the knowledge that they require about the goods and services that they desire.

Retail marketing is one of the oldest forms of marketing when one considers the fact that it is the selling of a product or a service, directly to the consumer. Retailers have engaged in activities to attract consumers for as long as there has been the concept of buying and selling. However, as time has gone by, this concept of marketing which eliminates the need for a middle man has become all the more competitive and retailers have developed retail marketing strategies that are highly aggressive and designed to cut through the competition imposed by their competition (McDonald and Tideman 1996). Common instruments of retail marketing that retailers employ include selling the product at a competitive price, ensuring that the consumer does not have to go through any difficulty in acquiring the product, ensuring that the consumer finds exactly what he/she is searching for and making certain

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that the product and/or service makes the consumer feel welcome (Sullivan and Adcock 2002). It is perhaps because of the same reason that retail marketing techniques are practiced by retailers at all levels. It is not uncommon for retailers to become rigorously engaged in retail marketing without even realizing that they have become active parts of the competition.

Generally, retail marketing allows the retailer to eliminate marketing costs that the retailer would otherwise have to incur in case the retailer decided to hire e third party carry out marketing techniques for the retailer. It allows the retailer to establish credibility with the consumer because of the direct interaction between the consumer/prospective consumer and the retailer that retail marketing incorporates. Retailers generally use retail marketing as a tool to make their consumers feel as comfortable as possible with the goods and services that they have to offer. Retail marketing serves to allow the consumers to observe the retail outlet through a perspective that encourages them to make a purchase from the retail establishment (Liljenwall 2004). It is for the same reason that retail marketing incorporates a significant amount of communication on the part of the retail marketer in order to educate the consumers and the prospective consumers about the goods and services that the subject retail outlet has to offer.

However, with the advent and the increasing adoption of internet supported marketing, retail marketing has gone through a phenomenal change in the last few decades. What was once known as retail marketing has now evolved to a level of sophistication where it is now exercised religiously by retailers. This paper shall attempt to elaborate upon the same and shall take examples from real world scenarios in order to do so. The paper shall consider one real world retailer and shall elaborate upon the numerous strategies that the retailer is currently using and shall then proceed to give recommendations with regard to the retail marketing measures that the retailer can take to improve its retail marketing system. It should be noted at this point that the main focus of retail marketing with regard to the retailer chosen for the paper shall be retail marketing techniques that are in no way in-store but are based on a broader scale. However, before an analysis of the subject can be performed, it is highly essential to acquire an understanding of retail marketing and its fundamentals.

Debenhams

In the United Kingdom alone, Debenhams currently has multiple outlets open in London, Wales, South East England, South West England, Central England, Yorkshire, North East England, North West England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Internationally placed Debenhams branches include ones in United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Romania, Republic of Moldova, Philippines, Malaysia, Kuwait, Jordan, Ireland, Iran, Indonesia, India, Iceland, Czech Republic, Cyprus and Bahrain.

Debenhams deals with men’s wear, women’s wear, children’s wear and durable goods. In order to assist its consumers in making their shopping experience as enjoyable and pleasurable as possible, Debenhams offers a number of services to its consumers that include complimentary services, free services and services that a consumer can take advantage of at a certain price. All of these services are designed to carry out retail marketing operations for Debenhams. However, there is a certain shortfall that Debenhams can be concluded to have in this regard with respect to retail marketing.

Debenhams may have been around for a long time now but it is beginning to lose its customers to the likes of Marks and Spencer. In terms of the reasons because of which it is losing a large share of its clientele to its competition, one can deduce that one of the few things that Debenhams needs to change is its retail marketing strategy.

Debenhams has been around for decades but if one was to consider the implementation of retail marketing on the part of Debenhams, then it becomes clear that Debenhams has chosen to focus only on in-store retail marketing. Therefore, we can conclude that there is a large expanse of retail marketing that Debenhams has still not ventured in to. This expanse is the retail marketing strategies that Debenhams can implement out-of-store. Over time, numerous out-of-store retail marketing strategies have been developed and Debenhams can make use of its expansive chain of stores in its retail marketing strategies and can tailor its retail marketing strategies to serve its particular infrastructure as well.

Recommended Retail Marketing Techniques

In order to acquire a concrete understanding of what retail marketing is essentially founded upon, the following paragraphs shall now elaborate upon some of the most basic retail marketing techniques that are used by retailers around the world.

Retailers who are engaged in retail marketing activities can be found to be frequently engaged in activities such as the printing of calendars with the name of their retail outlet and address along with contact details on it. Retail marketing techniques also involve printing special offers on the back of business cards so as to increase circulation of their popularity through every possible channel. In this regard, modern day retail marketers choose to have business cards printed quite frequently and choose to give them around just as generously as well as asking permission to leave them at places where they can expect their prospective consumers to gather. In this regard, Debenhams can ensure that its entire work force carried business cards that sport the most attractive of Debenhams offers on the back of their business cards. Special attention can be given to the business cards provided to personnel who are handling external supply chain matters in order to ensure that this technique penetrates thoroughly into the public. This platform can also be used to give out special discounts to the personnel associated with the members of Debenhams’s supply chain.

Another important factor is that since Debenhams primarily concentrates on its designs, it has more than a large number of options in men’s wear, children’s wear, women’s wear and durable goods that it can display on its calendars and other similar promotional material. This will allow Debenhams to convert promotional calendars into magazines of sorts through which consumers can browse or can gain inspiration from to shop from Debenhams.

Modern day retail marketers also choose to join trade associations or similar affiliated bodies where they may find a platform to perform their retail marketing campaigns as well. Joining affiliate bodies and associations such as these allows retailers to attain information that they can then use to launch lucky-draws for their consumers. Debenhams has retail outlets open across the United Kingdom and this fact can allow Debenhams to launch lucky-draw campaigns that can encourage current consumers to purchase all the more aggressively from Debenhams and can encourage prospective consumers to come to Debenhams and explore the wide range of products that Debenhams has to offer. Schemes such as these can then be combined with discounts based on referrals.

They may also acquire mailing addresses of prospective consumers in order to mail them their brochures and flyers along with their business cards. In order to do so, retail marketers frequently stress upon the designing and printing of brochures and flyers so that they may be distributed or mailed to prospective clients. Similar retail marketing strategies involve the establishment of a tag line that the retail marketers can market as their signature slogan to represent their identity (Altstiel and Grow 2005). The generation and establishment of a strong tag line allows retail marketers to spend less on brochure and flyer printing once the tag line has become recognized by the consumers. The tag line is used as an identity symbol that the retail marketer can then print on letter heads, fax headers, email signature and invoice headers or footers (Kim and Mauborgne 2005).

It is essential to highlight here that the reason because of which the development of a tag line is suggested so strongly is because the larger part of Debenhams’s promotion efforts seems to be concentrated on the wide range of products and services that Debenhams has to offer. There seems to be very little concentration on the development of a tag line that can represent Debenhams in all these areas of consumer products. It is therefore essential for Debenhams to develop a tag line that Debenhams can rely on to represent its distinct standard of products.

The tag line allows the consumer to find in the store exactly what the consumer was promised out of the store (Aaker and Joachimsthaler 2000). If a prospective consumer reads the tag line and then visits the store to find the same tag line written in the store, it will allow the person to feel less unfamiliar to the retail outlet.

Debenhams has a large number of products and services that it offers to its consumers and the absence of a concrete tag line can allow Debenhams to establish the significance of these products and services all the more. The absence of a proper, concrete and concise tag line appears to be depriving Debenhams from a much needed element of aggressive market competition that it requires. If one was to consider other multinational businesses, one can see that there are businesses where the business chooses to form and establish a new tag line almost every next season. Businesses such as these ensure that they generate tag lines for consumers with respect to the region in which the subject retail outlet is present and then market that outlet with the respective tag line. However, in the case of Debenhams, there appears to be no tag line present at all.

Once the retail marketing campaigns begin to yield results from the retail marketing strategies employed, it is suggested that Debenhams starts collecting customer feedback that they can then use as customer testimonials. These testimonials can then be printed on the brochures, flyers and similar marketing material that the retail marketer generates (McGoldrick 2002).

A brief observation of Debenhams is more than what an observer needs to note that Debenhams is not sporting any such measures at the moment. In contrast, Debenhams has chosen to rely entirely on its own presence in the market. It should be realized that customer testimonials have become essentially important in modern day retail marketing since they can not only encourage prospective consumers to explore Debenhams products but can also encourage current consumers to try out new Debenhams products that they were previously hesitant to try.

At this point, once the momentum begins to develop, retail marketers begin to participate more aggressively in activities that pertain to their industry. This allows them to establish their identity as the pioneers of retail marketing in their region. It is not uncommon to see successful retail marketers write articles for new comers in the retail marketing scenario in order to guide them towards successful retail marketing (Akehurst and Alexander 1996).

Debenhams is present in an industry in which the competition is becoming aggressive day by day and the fact the Debenhams is losing customers to its competition does not serve to make the presence of this competition any more easier to bear. However, in order to stand its ground, Debenhams shall have to develop retail marketing campaigns that allow it to stand parallel to its competition. Debenhams will not only have to implement the retail marketing strategies that have been discussed in this paper with an aggressive outlook but will also have to make its claim on the position that it rightfully deserves. Debenhams can encourage its designers to write articles that canter on the products that Debenhams has to offer and Debenhams can hold a press-day to invite members of the press to visit Debenhams retail outlets in order to give them a chance to observe the many designs that Debenhams has to offer and to write on them if they please.

However, not all retail marketing techniques revolve around the consumer. Retail marketing takes advantage of all the horizons that it can and an example of this can be seen in the fact that a common retail marketing technique is to arrange after-hours gatherings for the staff and their friends and relatives in order to establish good will and credibility with their prospective consumers and any parties that they are immediately in interaction with during their operations (Gilbert 1999). Marketing techniques such as the distribution of branded merchandise is common at events such as these.

At events such as these Debenhams can pay special attention to the friends and relatives of their employees and can give them special offers and special discount coupons that are rewarded to them for simply being associated with a person working at Debenhams. This will not only serve to increase the degree of charm that Debenhams holds in the eyes of the consumer but as a part of the two-fold strategy, will also allow Debenhams to improve employee turnover rates.

Another important element of retail marketing is to generate a stream of publicity and hype that can be relied upon to keep the retail establishment in the highlights. Measures that are centered to achieve objectives such as these include the releasing of press statements that take a widely accepted stance towards a social problem or the creation of an award for a certain attribute that is particular to the immediate region of the retail outlet.

In order to capture the interest of the consumers and the prospective consumers of the immediate region, retail marketers may also opt to develop their commercials for their local audience. This not only allows the retail marketers to save up on costs that they would otherwise incur if they telecasted on national television, but also allows them to customize their commercials to the immediate needs of their consumers and prospective consumers (Bruce, Moore, and Birtwistle 2004).

It is common for retail marketers to establish a modus operandi in this regard that they keep visiting frequently in order to ensure that the stream of publicity is continuously updated to provide their consumers and prospective consumers with the information they need about their products, services, special offers and similar packages. Similar measures designed to address the local population include publications in newsletters that pertain to regional perimeters. This allows the retail marketer to reach regional consumers as well.

Debenhams generally chooses to market itself on a macro level and perhaps one of the few new reinventions in its retail marketing strategy that it needs is to come down a notch. By making use of regional marketing channels to communicate information about their products to consumers, Debenhams will not only be able to tailor its segmented retail marketing strategies to the consumers belonging to different classes in accordance with regions but will also be able to save costs that will allow it to implement retail marketing measures such as those discussed above.

Retail marketing techniques also include the establishment of systems that take advantage of any opportunity that they can come across to turn a prospective consumer into a loyal consumer. Measures to meet objectives such as these included the setting up of automated answering machines that late consumers can call on to acquire basic information about the outlet and any particulars they are interested in. Automated answering machines can also be used to briefly advertise any special offers that are currently being run and can refer prospective consumers to other channels through which they can find out more about the retail outlet, its products and its services.

Retail marketing also incorporates techniques that make the consumer feel comfortable about the retail establishment no matter how minor those techniques may appear to be. As a measure to do exactly so, retail marketers also attempt to acquire toll-free phone numbers that they can print on their brochures, flyers and business cards. This allows them to give their consumers a memory-friendly phone number that they can retain easily.

As mentioned above, retail marketing techniques frequently involve the distribution of branded merchandise. However, this distribution is not limited to only staff members but is also carried out during events such as town fairs or exhibitions. Specialty products that the consumer or prospective products can be expected to bring into everyday use. This is an instrument that functions much like the toll free phone number mentioned above that is convenient for the consumer to commit to memory.

Other retail marketing techniques include improving the signage that is put up at the building and/or setting up a kiosk right outside the retail outlet in an attempt to target prospective consumers that may pass by. When a consumer shows interest upon the information or samples he/she is provided at the kiosk, he/she can then be referred to the actual retail outside to make a purchase. Similar actions include taking part in charity events and volunteering for the causes of non-profit organizations under the name of the subject brand and making donations of your products and/or services.

Debenhams can also setup its kiosks in areas that are around the retail store of its competition’s outlets and can use these kiosks to give prospective consumers free souvenirs as well as relevant information about Debenhams products that the consumers find attractive. This would allow Debenhams to take advantage of the consumers who have recently visited an outlet of Debenhams’s competition and have not found the item of their choice to be available.

There are countless non-profit organizations that are working in the United Kingdom and Debenhams can participate in their charity work through numerous ways such as devoting a part of its work force to volunteering for the non-profit organization’s cause

Where kiosks are not possible Debenhams can setup small representative-stands in coalition with a business associate that does not pose as a competition to it in the market. A small one or two man representative-stand will serve to attract consumers to attempt to acquire information about the latest Debenhams offers. The representatives can then direct the prospective consumers to the nearest Debenhams retail outlet.

A retail marketing strategy that is used by retailers more than often is the manner in which they arrange their products in their display window. Retailers often opt to place their products in a manner that makes them look appealing to the eyes of any prospective consumer who is otherwise busy window-shopping. But with regard to Debenhams, we can conclude that this is a strategy upon which Debenhams has gained a significance degree of expertise. In this case, Debenhams needs to keep its window display methodologies consistent but should realize that they are either falling short of their purpose or the methodologies that Debenhams is using in this regard are not the ones that it essentially requires in order to sustain itself against its immediate competition.

The business also has the option of forming a coalition of sorts with a business that is not in direct competition with it in order to develop packages that it can offer to its clients for promotional purposes. This will allow the business to not only familiarize with the immediate scenario that prevails in the market with regard to the acceptance of the target consumers to retail marketing. Consumers can be given free memberships or discounted memberships to a newsletter published by the local newspaper or any other body in which they can be given discount coupon for the store.

Debenhams has an extremely large number of retail outlets around the world, which gives Debenhams an edge with regard to the fact that it can interlink its retail marketing strategies in order to provide its consumers with the comfort of being able to take attain benefits from any Debenhams store that they visit.  For instance, Debenhams can form an alliance with another business on a scale that allows Debenhams and its coalition partner to offer their special packages and services to consumers no matter which Debenhams branch the consumer went to.

Conclusion

From the above discussion, we can concur that there is a significant degree of reinvention that is required in the case of Debenhams with respect to retail marketing. Debenhams may have been around for decades now but its success rate is beginning to show decelerations that can be attributed to a possible downfall of the retail giant. This downfall can be avoided only through the integration of a sizable change in its marketing strategy. Debenhams needs to stop concentrating on the larger picture and needs to take advantage of the many smaller elements that surround it. It can tailor each outlet to the region within which the outlet is present in order to make the outlet as welcoming as possible.

Debenhams needs to increase the degree of coalition that it has with members of its value chain in order to decrease costs and needs to develop working relationships with other businesses which it can work with in order to bring about a multilateral increase in revenues. The current market stance with respect to its competition that Debenhams has is not working for Debenhams and it is essential for Debenhams to form allies in the market that it can use to regain its competitive advantage. Debenhams can form coalitions with businesses that do not pose as competition to Debenhams and can launch retail marketing campaigns with the help of the same.

Debenhams has the infrastructure and the number of retail outlets that it needs to launch retail marketing campaigns that can help it recover the consumers that it has lost to its competition. Debenhams has the credibility that is required to form strong business partnerships with other businesses and has the personnel that it can utilize to launch retail marketing campaigns and run them successfully. However, perhaps the one hurdle that puts Debenhams in a difficult position with respect to the retail marketing strategies recommended above is that it has seldom implemented any retail marketing methods and this may cause a significant difficulty in developing and implementing retail marketing strategies. But considering the expertise that Debenhams has accumulated over years of experience, one can concur that a successful retail marketing strategy will be more than feasible for Debenhams.

List of References

Aaker, D. A. and Joachimsthaler, E. (2000). Brand Leadershi.New York:  Free Press.

Akehurst, G. and Alexander, N. (1996). Retail marketing. New York:  Routledge.

Altstiel, T. and Grow, J. (2005). Advertising Strategy. London:  Sage Publications.

Bruce, M., Moore, C. and Birtwistle, G. (2004). International Retail Marketing: a Case Study Approach. Oxford:  Butterworth-Heinemann.

Gilbert, D. (1999). Retail Marketing Management. New York:  Financial Times/Prentice Hall.

Kim, W. C. and Mauborgne, R. (2005). Blue Ocean Strategy. Boston: Harvard Business Press.

Liljenwall, R. (2004). The Power of Point-of-Purchase Advertising: Marketing at Retail. Alexandria: Point-of-Purchase Advertising Intl.

McDonald, M. and Tideman, C. C. (1996). Retail Marketing Plans: How to Prepare Them, how to Use Them. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

McGoldrick, P. J. (2002). Retail Marketing. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Sullivan, M. and Adcock, D. (2002). Retail Marketing. Cengage Learning EMEA.

 

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