Retail marketing is the range of activities undertaken by a retailer to promote awareness and sales of the company’s products. This is different from other types of marketing because of the components of the retail trade, such as selling finished goods in small quantities to the consumer or end user, usually from a fixed location. Retail marketing makes use of the common principles of the marketing mix, such as product, price, place and promotion. A study of retail marketing at university level includes effective merchandising strategies, shopping and consumer behavior, branding and advertising. Retail marketing is especially important to small retailers trying to compete against large chain stores.
The cornerstone of the retail marketing definition is the product. In the retail environment, merchandise is classified according to the category into which it falls. These categories include hard or durable goods such as appliances, furniture, electronic goods and sports equipment; food; and soft goods or consumables. Soft goods include clothing, furnishings, cosmetics, paper goods and other items with a typical life span of three years or less. For example, in a small business selling handmade crafts, the products would likely all fall under a single category.
The place where retail marketing occurs helps to define the process. A retail operation can be store-based retail or non-store, according to the Internal Revenue Service’s Retail Industry Handbook. More than 90 percent of U.S. retail stores are small, single-store, owner-managed operations; however, these generate less than 50 percent of sales from retail stores countrywide. A definition of retail marketing includes the places where it occurs, such as in-store, online and points of sale. This also applies to non-store operations such as retail sales taking place from the business owner’s home.
Pricing is a major aspect of any retail marketing strategy. The price of merchandise helps to define the methods of retail marketing employed, as well as the target market, store location and retail format used to sell it. Pricing in the retail environment is based on fulfilling objectives such as covering the cost of sales and overhead, and in accordance with the four basic retail pricing strategies. These are everyday low pricing, high/low pricing, competitive pricing and psychological pricing. In a small retail business such as selling handcrafts, pricing may be based purely on the cost of sales, because overhead costs, if they exist, are minimal.
Retail marketing relies heavily on the promotional aspect of the marketing mix, as can be seen by the number of print advertisements for consumer goods such as clothing, food and furniture. Promotions take place in both traditional media such as television, print, outdoor billboards and radio, as well as new media such as the Internet. The choice of promotional channels is influenced by factors such as the competitive retail environment, the profit margin on sales and the budget available for promotion purposes. The success of retail marketing is defined by the success of the business in selling its merchandise. Promotion may be more difficult for small businesses, because of their lower advertising budgets, but social media provides a low-cost method of promotion.