10 Retail Experts Share Their #1 Tip

by Humayun Khan

RetailAs a small business owner with a brick-and-mortar store, it can be easy to hit a slump and feel frustrated when sales are down or when you’re just not getting enough foot traffic.

It’s time like these when you’d like to be able to consult with an expert and get help turning your store around. Even if it’s just for a single piece of advice that you can put into action right away. Luckily for you, I’ve collected ten pieces of advice for that exact purpose.

Below you’ll find ten takeaways from some of the most renowned names in retail, marketing, and branding, all neatly packed for your consumption in this post. These experts were kind enough to answer my question: 

“What’s the #1 thing that retailers can do to better market their brick-and-mortar store?” 

The tips and insights contained in their answers listed below pack a lot of punch but will only work if you pick one and decide to put it into action.

Let’s dive right in.


#1. Give People a Reason to Go to Your Store

“The #1 thing retailers can do to better market their brick and mortar stores is to give people a reason to go to their store. I have seen shops that hold exclusive events, limited and only available items in stores and use online coupons to use in-store only to promote their stores.”

Bryan Eisenberg, Founder and CMO of IdealSpot, and Best-Selling Author


#2. Focus on How You Sell What You Sell

“Assume that no one really needs what you sell, because they probably don’t. In a little over 25 years, we’ve gone from an economy based on scarcity of goods and services to one that offers unimaginable abundance. There’s very little you can sell that can’t be gotten elsewhere. Focus instead on how you sell what you sell. Completely differentiate your customer experience and make sure it’s remarkable. Products come and go but there will always be a market for truly remarkable experiences.”

Doug Stephens, Founder of Retail Prophet and Author of “The Retail Revival”


#3. Sweat the Small Stuff

“Sweat the Small Stuff – design your customer experiences to bring your brand to life in the finest of details and deliver on them with excellence to express your brand in every customer interaction.”

Denise Lee Yohn, Brand-Building Expert, Speaker, and Author of “What Great Brands Do”


#4. Never Stop Researching

“Never stop researching. Research your sales – or lack of them – to previous days and even years. Research your inventory sell-through and vendor sell-through. Research your competition and research their customers. Research your customers and the customers you want to gain. Research your employees before hiring, and research selling techniques and customer service care to help them succeed. The list goes on and on… very simply, always research what you can do to improve your sales, your marketing, your merchandising, your employees and even yourself. Never stop researching.”

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, Founder and Publisher, Retail Minded


#5. Motivate Customers to Take Action

“Holiday shopping engenders a feeling of urgency. Customers have a limited time to get their lists from loved ones and check them off. It’s a unique time to entice them with items that are uniquely packaged for this special time of year. You may stock your store with exclusive gift sets (like Sabon bath and body products), limited edition collectable pieces (like Build-A-Bear workshop items with Disney’s Frozen and Marvel’s superheroes), as well as limited time collaborations (like Bauble Bar X Anthropologie).

Be sure customers feel that they are limited by time and inventory, so they are motivated to take action. As long as your brand has a clear message, because of the timeframe that they’re there, this urgency only enhances the experience and stresses to the customers that they need to get it now or they won’t have an opportunity to get it again, at least, not in the same kind of way. That’s key.”

Melissa Gonzalez, Founder, The Lion’esque Group, and Author of “The Pop-Up Paradigm” 


#6. Be Locally Relevant

“Local relevance – to the extent that they are able to, retailers need to get grounded in and familiar with the communities they operate within. This gives rise to marketing and outreach ideas that organically make sense for the people in those communities.”

James Bickers, Sr. Editor, Retail Customer Experience


#7. Embrace Shoppertainment

You need to run one MAJOR and two to three MINOR events in your store each month. A major event is one that builds traffic and packs your store with customers. Don’t confuse a major event with something that takes a long time to plan. A class or fashion show can be a major undertaking, but it’s not a major event unless it attracts potential customers who not only participate, but buy something while they are there.

A minor event might be a Saturday full of demonstrations and mini-classes. Minor events draw customers to your store but should not take a lot of time to plan or implement. If the concept of events and promotions is new to you, then begin by running one major event and one minor event for each month of the year. If you’re already running events on a regular basis, you can add as many as you are comfortable adding.”

Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender, Founders and Speakers, Kizer & Bender


#8. Don’t Just Play the “Small Business” Card

“Don’t count on just stating you are a “small business.” Give them a reason to shop. My favorite reason: Offer unique well-crafted items that are limited.”

Mercedes Gonzalez, Founder, Global Purchasing Companies


#9. Connect Online with Offline

“With the entirety of human knowledge available at their fingertips, today’s shopper is way savvier than ever before. To cater to these empowered shoppers and to facilitate unplanned purchases, it’s critical that retail environments provide access to rich product information, and especially provide social proof for in-store purchases, such as making online reviews available in the store.

While more than half of shoppers now use digital tools to pre-shop, the overwhelming majority still want to complete the transaction in store. When retailers think about their digital marketing, they shouldn’t just think in terms of capturing online sales. Providing a great store locator, giving access to real-time in-store inventory and having a well executed local SEO plan are amongst the highest value digital activities for any brick and mortar retailer.”

Jason Goldberg, Founder at RetailGeek, GVP Commerce Strategy, Razorfish


#10 Tell a Visual Story

“If you are in a popular destination with great foot traffic, create a great window that tells one story and tells it well. Your window display must be your invitation to the passerby. A well-designed window display encourages impulse sales and peaks a customer’s curiosity. It might even tug at their heartstrings.”

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