How to grow your retail business using print and digital

The retail industry is the single largest private sector employer, employing one in ten people here in the UK. That’s no surprise as annual sales are estimated to be around £358bn. Stepping into this arena can prove to be a particularly tough nut to crack.

For the past decade we have been incredibly accustomed to the sound of another major retailer shutting its door on the high street for the very last time. That said, all is not bleak, and opportunities are rife — you just need to find them and be able to take advantage of them when they arise. Despite the fact many people believe everything happens online now, it still only caters for 17% of overall retail sales here in the UK.

Obviously, as a business in the retail sector, you will have a pre-developed set of objectives, initially drawn up to help you establish your brand. With a retail business, a strategy which emphasises growth is utterly essential — you either swim, float or sink. This type of strategy can help you attract investment, but more importantly, it helps you track your own personal development as a business.


But, how does one grow a business in a heavily saturated sector? Well, there are a variety of concepts that can be applied. Here, with outdoor banner printing specialists Where The Trade Buys, we are going to help you by examining some of the methods that proved highly successful among industry leaders. We will analyse the digital and print based strategies implemented, the results they’ve produced, and provide examples of major brands who have used them.


  • How to set up a worthwhile loyalty scheme for your customers.
  • Using social media to generate buzz around your brand.
  • Asking favours of your customers.
  • Keeping up with retail trends and implementing them across your business.
  • Investing in your team and building your industry presence.

Loyalty schemes

Getting inside the head of the customer and understanding what they want can be crucial. For a customer, knowing that you as a business care about them, can be equally important as the actual product you are selling to them. Rewarding your customer for remaining loyal to your brand is the perfect way of doing so.  Although the initial outlay of creating and implementing a customer loyalty scheme may seem particularly daunting, retention strategies are deemed significantly more cost efficient than trying to attract new customers — who are 25% more expensive. Statistics suggest that members of a customer loyalty scheme are likely to spend up to 18% more than those who aren’t.

As a business you must consider what you are offering through your program, something that competitors aren’t. You want to do more than simply retain their custom, you want to build a relationship, and make it more than just a sale. Once you have conquered this, the customer is more than likely to promote your brand. Furthermore, those who have been referred by a member of a loyalty scheme are 37% more likely to stay with your brand.

There are a wide range of loyalty schemes available but be sure to choose the right one for your business. You must be able to offer a unique alternative but similarly ensure that you are going to see a profitable return. In the retail sector, most businesses will have different types of loyalty schemes. You will need to identify what you can afford to offer shoppers for their custom. If you’re convinced to create one, read our list that describes how you can launch a successful scheme using loyalty cards.

Pick a standout name

Your loyalty scheme needs a name that instantly captures attention and encourages people to find out more. The scheme needs to be a campaign in itself — something much more than a shop assistant asking a customer whether they have a loyalty card during checkout. People need to be excited about this and they should be able to understand what kind of rewards they will be getting if they do sign up. Equally, you need to make them feel as though they need to be part of the club.

In the same sense that a business’ name must stand out in order to capture the attention of potential customers, the name of the loyalty scheme you establish should similarly offer some individuality. Outdoor clothing company North Face launched their company loyalty scheme VIPeaks and it exists as the perfect example of a campaign which has earned significant attention and respect from users. Customers are ‘exploration rewarded’, in which they receive peak points. One of the most crucial aspects of a loyalty scheme is that the customer understands what they are signing up for and what they are going to get out of it, and the name should explain, if not least hint, at what this will be.

Create a suitable design

Now, once you’ve nailed down the name of the loyalty campaign, you must grasp an understanding of how your loyalty cards will be designed. The most common method of loyalty schemes offered by companies is the collection of stamps on their card, in which a certain number, most usually 10, will translate into a free or discounted product. Loyalty cards are usually sized to fit inside a wallet or purse, therefore they are constantly on the customers person, meaning they will see it daily, and be inclined to use it.

We suggest that your loyalty card should include the company colours, contact information, and display the logo.

Boost the presence of loyalty scheme across your business

When asked to consider a loyalty scheme which has gained significant traction, Starbucks is never too far away from the tip of your tongue. What they have done is successfully integrate their loyalty scheme throughout their business as opposed to just on a card in your wallet. The Seattle based coffee company understands the significance of making their brand an everyday commodity, and how, by offering simple rewards to their customers for stopping by each morning to pick up a flat white, this can be achieved. When we talk about industry leaders, Starbucks is at the peak of those seeing a positive return on their push regarding customer loyalty. The coffee company’s app allows users to pre-pay for goods, collect and redeem points, discover coffee fueled playlists, and even grab a free drink on your birthday. For your business, an app could be a great way of collecting data regarding your customer, including contact information, demographics, as well as understanding their shopping habits.

Utilising social media

An ever present in modern life, it is no surprise that social media can be utilised as a tool for promoting growth. Four billion people throughout the world use the internet and more than three billion of these are active social media users, this translates into a 42% of the possible population. 60% of Instagram users suggest that they discover new products using the app so this could be worth looking into.

Successful entrepreneurs throughout the world point to the likes of Facebook for aiding their development. A study carried out by the Pew Research Centre discovered 51% of Facebook users connect with the social media site on several occasions throughout the day and 23% connected at least once a day. It is understandable why this platform has established itself as one of the most lucrative ways to advertise your business.

The general public expects brands to have a social media presence and it must be more than just a place for promotion. HBR conducted research regarding businesses and how they interact with customers online,  which focused on Twitter and how the platform is often used by customers to voice their complaints. The study discovered that a response from a company within five minutes on Twitter to a complaint can translate into a customer spending almost 10 times more in future than if the response takes more than an hour.

Understanding which social media platforms potential customers are using is crucial. For example, there is little value in promoting your brand on Facebook when your target market is solely present on LinkedIn. Each of the social media platforms have their own way of assisting you in communicating with potential customers which is always an added benefit and makes for time efficient operations.

Although it is unlikely you will actively communicate with a consistent audience on each and every social media platform, by having links in place between each, using the same username and logo, allows you to re-direct them and assist them on your preferred site.

After gaining an understanding of what social media platforms your target audience is using, it is then time to start looking into how you can raise awareness of your brand image and name. It may seem insignificant, but by encouraging family and friends to follow you on these social media sites, you will increase awareness, as these people are genuinely interested in the success of your company.

Be sure to take advantage of promotional events to encourage the outreach of your brand. The likes of business events and seminars can be an easy method of advertising. Display a pop-up banner to get the most brand attention.

Call upon your customers

It isn’t all about giving. Now and again you must get something back from your customers. Thanks again to the increased use of social media and the internet, reviews can be vital regarding a business’ growth success. Customers are likely to spend 31% more on products and services from businesses which have excellent reviews. If you’ve provided your customer with a good service, then don’t be afraid to ask them to post a good review online as it will help you become more visible.

Although word-of-mouth advertising is seen as one of the best ways to market a business, reviews and their results are particularly significant. 86% of customers read reviews, more so in the millennial demographic, with 95% of people aged 18-34 regularly checking online before making a decision. Make them feel involved with your brand by using a selfie frame you can create the all-important ‘instagrammable’ feel — if they see others doing so, chances are they’ll support you too. Not only is this a cost-effective marketing strategy, it creates the opportunity for rapid sharing.

It’s important that you’re never seen in a negative light though, and it’s crucial to remember that. Negative reviews can drive away 40% of potential customers, while 57% of customers will not use a business with less than a four-star rating. What’s more concerning for businesses is the fact a single negative review can cost a business around 30 customers.

Staying in touch with retail trends

As we’ve previously suggested, the retail industry is heavily saturated, so staying in touch with customer needs and market trends is crucial in retaining a competitive edge. Obviously, some trends will last longer than others and some will stay forever, but by keeping up to date with industry news and what your competitors are doing, you can jump on top of trends when they come about.

One of the best methods of understanding these trends is by using the customer — holding regular focus groups and offering surveys. But what benefits generate from staying on top of market trends? Customer satisfaction will be boosted, and you’ll be better equipped to carry out forecasts for the next business period, which will allow you to remain innovative.

Your staff matter

Described as the smartest business decision you can ever make, investing in employees may seem like the most obvious method of encouraging growth. But, some companies fail to implement this simplistic strategy.

85% of staff throughout the world are unhappy in their job and this has detrimental impacts on a business’ success. Approximately £5.5 trillion is lost every year thanks to a lack of engagement among staff. Training can play a significant part in improving this, as if a staff member isn’t trained to a sufficient level, they can soon become demotivated. Make sure that a high standard training scheme is implemented and more importantly that staff understand why they are carrying out such training. This will ultimately allow the staff member to envisage the bigger picture and the goals of the company.

The importance of employees is something which is held in particularly high esteem by one of the most established business personalities and entrepreneurs in the world. Richard Branson famously coined the phrase ‘customers come second, staff come first’, and the suggestion is by no means unfounded. Statistics prove that happy colleague create happy customers, with 82% of customers leaving a company because of an unsatisfactory level of customer service.

Happy employees are three times more creative, perform 20% better than their unhappy counterparts, and the company, overall, is likely to perform 202% better respectively. At Google, staff are allowed to dedicate 20% of their time to pursuing special projects that personally they feel are important. This is a simple yet effective way of keeping staff motivated and can ultimately better the company.

Outside the business, growth can be aided by attending conferences and networking events. This can be a perfect occasion to grab the attention of potential customers and perhaps investors. But you need to make sure they’re interested from the moment they see you. Roll up banners can be a cost-effective way of sticking in the mind of people at these events.

Finally, simple perks for staff such as providing them with custom travel mugs, note books, and water bottles which are printed with the company logo can make them feel part of the brand. This is undoubtedly a cheap method of increasing brand awareness.

Contributed from Mediaworks

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