3 Time-Tested Retail Sales Promotions That Drive Foot Traffic and Build Loyalty

Retailer promotion | Shopify Retail blog

As a retailer, one of your perpetual concerns is driving more customers in-store to get more sales.

If you're just getting started on your entrepreneurial journey, you likely have some big questions: How do you entice people to buy more from your store? What do you do when you want customers to make purchases more frequently, or in greater volume? And how can you boost business during slow hours or slow months?

Whatever your goal may be as a retailer, by creating time-sensitive in-store promotions and having a good grasp on your target customer demographic, you'll be able to incentivize the right actions, get customers to respond, and grow your business in the process. 

We'll look at three retail promotion techniques that are worth their weight in gold when implemented effectively. They are:

  • Promotional pricing
  • Point-of-purchase displays
  • Loyalty programs

Once you better understand the power of these promotions, you can integrate them into your sales strategy to spur more revenue. So, the next time you're stuck on how you can increase sales, get new customers, or retain existing ones, you'll have no trouble turning to the perfect promotion strategy for your goal.

The Power of Promotional Pricing

As a retailer, you may already know the power of discounting products to increase demand.

But which products are best for discounting? And by how much? Or for how long? These are all questions that come to mind when considering a retail promotion. They're also important questions because of how pricing affects consumer psychology. 

For example, you might have heard about the power of ending prices with the number 9. Researchers have discovered that items priced at $39 sell more than the cheaper price point of $34. Or the overbearing power of the word "free" —which research shows is a major motivator even when the perceived value and price of two options remain the same.

Now, let's take a look at a few of the more popular promotional pricing options that you can deploy in your own store:

  • Markdowns: Retail markdowns are when you reduce prices on a wide range of products in your store for all customers. This is especially effective when backed by a wider advertising campaign, be it through paid or unpaid channels. 
  • Loss Leaders: When you know that certain products are in demand. Whether it's a luxury item like an iPad or everyday need like undergarments, you can provide certain products at a steep discount to draw new customers to your store. Known as loss leaders, these products are great for selling overstocked items, increasing traffic to your store, and generating brand awareness. 
  • Bundle Pricing: Bundling products is a great way to generate a higher perceived value for a lower cost that customers have a hard time staying away from. Whether it's a "buy one, get one free" deal or a "3 for the price of 1" special, this tactic is great for making customers feel that they're getting more for what they're paying. As a bonus, this is a huge draw to then entice those customers to buy higher priced items once they're in your store.

Retail sales to help foot traffic | Shopify Retail

Leveraging Point-of-Purchase Displays 

Point of purchase displays | Shopify RetailYou might be most familiar with point-of-purchase (POP) displays from your visit to the grocery store. All those glossy celebrity gossip magazines and small items under $10 are in the checkout line right next to the point-of-sale system. That setup serves a purpose: encouraging impulse purchases.

For example, you might have noticed that the last time you went shopping for clothes, there was a never-ending array of bins and displays filled with items that could be seen as "add-ons" or "upsells" as you made your way closer to the checkout. 

The reason why these POP displays and the impulse purchases they generate are so effective is that, according to research, almost 66% of all decisions to buy something are made while people are shopping in a store. And guess what? Almost 53% of those decisions are classified as impulse buying. 

Well, it's time to start thinking about what you could do around your checkout area to get consumers to buy more.

Here are a few examples of different types of POP displays:

  • Speed Bumps: As prospective customers get closer to the end of their purchasing journey at your store, you can intentionally draw their attention to products they may have missed. Strategically place them along the path to checkout or even as they wander the store.
  • Dump Bins: These are bins full of products strategically placed to elicit curiosity in consumers and get them to "dig in" and find an item that they'll add to their shopping cart as they stand in a checkout line.
  • Free Samples: This is a surefire way to build demand for any new products that you may have recently added to your store. Giving away free samples of certain products invites customers to use them at no cost. And although they may not reach for the full-price version right away, you can be sure they'll think about it the next time they visit your store.

Getting the Most Out of Loyalty Programs

Let's face it: Getting new customers costs a lot of time, money, and effort. Providing great customer service and creating customer loyalty programs that get customers to come back is far more profitable and efficient as a retailer. 

Though you may not have the big-box retailer budget to launch a full-out customer loyalty program, rest assured, there are some great alternatives that also happen to be cost-effective as well. 

The most beneficial of those alternatives would have to be email marketing. It's an effective way to drive customer retention and loyalty and starts when you collect customer's email as they checkout. From there, you can email them about exclusive sales, discounts, coupons, and other promotional offerings for a limited time period. Not only will this incentivize them to visit your store again, but it will also increase the perceived value they have of being on your email list.

One app you might want to consider is Belly, which helps local businesses connect with customers through a customer-facing mobile app and merchant iPad app, and helps you build loyalty by rewarding your customers each time they visit and make a purchase from your store. 

You can also explore some of the options in Shopify's App Store to integrate a loyalty program right into your POS. 

Track Your Retail Promotion Efforts

In order for you to get the most benefit from running a retail promotion campaign, you must track the percentage of sales resulting from the promotional campaign. Ideally, you should be able to assign tracking codes or discount codes to certain products within your POS system and generate a report to see how well you've done since first launching the campaign. 

The other important component is setting a timeline for each campaign. Not only will this encourage your customers to act faster, but it helps you to look at promotions from a seasonal perspective. That will also help you to be far more strategic and give you enough time to plan everything in advance so as to ensure you're not wasting your efforts. 

Moving Forward With Retail Promotions to Drive Foot Traffic and Sales

Although this isn't a comprehensive list of every tactic retailers can use to drive foot traffic, these aforementioned strategies offer you a strong place to start.

Have you launched a successful retail promotion? Share your experiences in the comments below.