Question :
Hi . We run a small footwear retail business and have done so for 37 years . We use our database of customers and facebook as a major part of our marketing program . My question is when we are allowed to reenter the market place do you suggest that we go back with a short term  aggressive discount marketing program or continue on with our normal marketing program which is more informative marketing than hard sell ? The informative marketing program has worked well in normal trading times but the present could be called anything but normal .RegardsGrant Collins

Question submitted 17/04/20 @ 02:38pm
Industry: Retailing
  • Hi Grant,

    If informational has worked for you in the past, why not try that initially and reevaluate daily? Everything has changed so much, it’s almost impossible to guess what will work with your customers, so a try it and see approach is best in my opinion.

    I’ve also seen lots of companies being honest with their customers and whether they need support to get through this, with loyal customers rising to the occasion beautifully. Perhaps a really nice, transparent piece on how you and your team is doing would be a good way to kick things off again.


    Hi Grant. Personally, I’d go back to what’s worked well for you in the past. I can’t see the benefit in discounting unless you have a specific issue you need to address.I don’t believe that the world has changed forever but if it has, you can always choose to change then but don’t get ahead of the curve.

    Hi Grant.

    Some great suggestions. I agree with being honest with your customers as a great place to start. It feels like there is a movement towards supporting/shopping local. People wanting to support their local retailer/neighbours through these tough times. Being vulnerable (without begging for sales) shows the human element of your business. And your marketing strategy of adding value to your customers is a good one.

    Outside of that, there is clearly a movement towards digital/online. If you haven’t done that already it might be a good place to spend some time until you can physically open your doors. An effective turnkey e-commerce site can be built relatively easily and affordably using platforms like Shopify. I’ve heard of stores & brands eCommerce sites experiencing growth in sales over this time.

    The determining factor for discounting will be whether you’re in dire need to turn inventory for cashflow. Or have dating inventory you need to clear before new season inventory arrives. Discounting I’d use as the last resort (unless you’re in dire need of cash) as it obviously reduces your margin and profitability.

    Go well!

    Hey Grant, a question to understand is how has CV19 disrupted your customer base. Do they have jobs? Has their discretionary income changed? It maybe that you need to be targeting new customers. Unless cashflow has jeopardised the business don’t consider discounting. Strengthen up your communication own what you are really good at at communicate this back to existing and new customers to start with. No one knows exactly what the trading environment will be like going forward although many are taking educated guesses. Stick with what you do well and remain flexible to change should circumstances change.

    Hi Grant,
    The one thing you need to always remember is discounting is like a drug. In retail circles, we call it heroin. You get a hit, and then you want another hit and then another and you are in a never-ending cycling that you cannot stop.

    There are some incredible retailers who use discounting effectively (eg. Briscoes, Kathmandu, Rebel) but their strategies are interlinked to the fact they have a significant portion of their range as home-brand or they have complete vertical integration. Likewise, they manage the categories on discount and margin mix carefully.

    The rest of the retail world use discounting strategies, ideally, in a very considered way. Sometimes you do need it to try and activate or reactivate customers who have changed their behaviour. It might be linked to clearance or it may be part of a high-low approach.

    Now unless you have a specific strategy that utilises the above, now is not the time to start. What you were doing was working. So you need to do more of that and provide all the authentic, genuine and engaging reasons your customers want to shop with you.

    You have a database and hopefully, you have behavioural or basket level data from that. If you examine that you may be able to test some incentives to bring customers back to shop with offers that specific appeal to them. Sneakerheads may be related to an offer across a range or gift with purchase or related to different transaction types (eg. if we are hand to mouth with $$ Laybuy and Afterpay are perfect).

    If you don’t have a transactional e-commerce store you need it pronto. Shopify is outstanding and there are many other ways to achieve this. Shoppers habits have, are and will continue to change. They may come into the store and covert an item, only to get home and decide, “Yes I need that” so they can pop online, secure the product and have it in the hands a day or two after. Seamless.

    The other thing to consider if/when you do have an online store is to make sure you are managing the keywords on your site and Adwords to improve your search. This is an art and science but can be incredibly powerful to keep you on page 1 of Google. Just last night I decided I needed new shoes for my birthday next week and there were a specific Veja I wanted. I saw it online at one store but then did a Google search to see what else was available in case there was a different colour-way. Guess what? I actually bought it from a different online store.

    37 years is a long time to be in business. Customers clearly love you. Connect and tell that story. All of the best customer/retailer relationships are a balance of rationale, functional and emotional motivators. Make sure you communicate across those in a considered way.

    This is an incredible opportunity. Good luck.

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