As retailers head into the critical back-to-school season, the industry's second-biggest selling period, they're using an array of new tools and deals to spur consumers to buy.
Online fashion shopping sites like Gilt Groupe and Rue La La have been a hit with women since launching over the last three years. A new push to get men to shop in these web boutiques is proving more difficult.
Forever 21, a clothing chain that attracts many under-21 customers with its inexpensive, trendy fashions, is being questioned about its motives in choosing a select group of states to carry its recently launched maternity line. The line, called Love 21 Maternity, is currently available in Arizona, Alaska, California, Utah and Texas.
It's the goal of every business to turn casual customers into raving fans who refer new customers, give great ratings and reviews, and are an all-around dream for marketers. But how does a small business guide customers up the sales chain? Obviously, having great products and services is key, but connecting with, embracing and educating these casual customers through multiple channels will also help the process.
Back-to-school spending may rise as much as 16 percent in the U.S. this year, reversing year-ago declines and putting more muscle behind the economic rebound. Families with students plan to spend about $55.1 billion in the period, compared with $47.5 billion a year earlier, the National Retail Federation said, citing consumers surveyed by BIGResearch.
With unemployment high and consumer confidence low, retailers are getting more creative to lure wary consumers. Grabbing shoppers from rivals is no easy task, but merchants are making a stab at innovative ways, beyond price cuts and low overhead, to lure consumers. Merchants have little choice now but to boost sales to keep profits up.
With today's consumers deluged with new media and messages — on any given day, the average consumer will be exposed to nearly 3,000 media messages, of which they'll pay attention to 52 and remember four — marketing campaigns need to be as close to one-to-one conversations as possible. At last month's Digital Marketing Days Conference & Expo in New York City, Christa Carone, chief marketing officer for Xerox, provided strategies to help retailers shift their marketing efforts from one-way conversations to true dialogs with consumers.
Greater emphasis is clearly placed on value and multiple-unit purchases rather than on adding “frills” via merchandising tactics beyond clearance areas and rebates. An interesting aside is that unlike B-to-C customers who have come to expect plentiful free shipping offers, the lack of such promotions does not seem to negatively impact the B-to-B customer’s decision to make a purchase.
Combining the forces of social media with email marketing has been under way for some time, with savvy marketers using the two channels to complement each other rather than compete. As companies gain experience in the area, their choice of tactics may change. A survey of small businesses by email marketing company AWeber found the most common tactics implemented last year were tweeting email newsletters and sending out blog entries to email lists. Fewer than four in 10 small businesses were engaging in those activities, and only about one-quarter had email sign-up forms on their social profiles or links within email messages to follow them on social sites.