Digital Marketing in Retail Industry- 5 Great Examples
The pandemic-related lockdowns have led to a global shift in digital purchases. More stores are now exploring digital marketing in retail industry, as the latest is becoming increasingly important for long-term survival.
Recent statistics speak for themselves. Every single month, one in four Americans make at least one online purchase. Researchers estimate that by 2023, 22% of global retail sales, or $6.57 trillion U.S. dollars, will come from e-commerce purchases. So how can a retail business make the most from this trend, joining the stores that reach success? While many factors are involved in the process, a strong digital marketing strategy is always a great way to start.
When looking at recent statistics and advantages of online shopping, it quickly becomes clear that digital marketing strategies are needed for stores to improve their odds of success in the future. Without building a digital marketing strategy, a retail business will:
- Be unable to formulate clear goals when it comes to scaling.
- Miss on potential engagement and feedback from a large market segment.
- Lose track of online sales and traffic resulting from marketing efforts.
- Miss out on potential partnerships or cross-promotional activities.
Online marketing vs. digital marketing
While online marketing and digital marketing may sound similar, the two have somewhat different definitions.
- Digital Marketing: An umbrella term for promoting your brand's message across all digital mediums. It is therefore not limited to the internet. Digital marketing examples include T.V. ads, SMS marketing campaigns and more. Among its many different subcategories, one can find online marketing as well.
- Online Marketing: A subset of digital marketing that emphasizes on promotional methods executed on the internet. Examples include pop-ups appearing on a business’ website, using social media, Google ads, Youtube ads, and even the sponsoring of a newsletter or podcast.
When talking about digital marketing we do not only refer to practises that are executed through digital mediums, but also those that can be used (in part) for physical store promotion. In short, digital marketing is more extensive than online marketing.
Best retail-related digital marketing examples
To help you gain further insight into the difference applications of digital marketing in retail industry, let’s look at five successful businesses and break down part of their digital marketing strategies.
Primark digital marketing
Primark is a famous "fast fashion" company that has expanded its store locations across the globe. They are selling apparel, homeware, makeup, footwear, and snacks, usually at a very low price compared to the industry standards.
Primark is a good example of digital marketing in retail industry done right. Their last-year's revenue was estimated around 7.8 billion gbp. Additionally, the store only recently built is webstore to accommodate the pandemic-related shifts in retail dynamics. The reason for Primark’s success is simple: they differentiate themselves from their competitors, all while maximizing a small marketing budget (in relation to their size).
To start, Primark's products aim at a tech-sophisticated audience (teens and young adults). They utilize their social media to connect with their consumers in an informal manner, while still keeping a professional tone. Customers can also share their Primark experience on the company’s website. Additionally, they’ve avoided common costs like paid ads on different social media platforms as well as Google. One could argue that this is done due to the low-priced items; this however would not bea valid statement since Primark enthusiasts have a high CLV.
Before launching a store in a new location, Primark studies the market shifts, demographics, culture, and competitive advantage of the area. This (mostly time-consuming) investment is necessary to ensure the longevity of the store, as well as improve the ways in which the brand communicates with the audience. You can read more about Primark’s marketing strategy here.
By looking at Primark as an example of digital marketing in retail, we can derive that:
- A digital marketing strategy doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive - just focus on the channels that matter most.
- While the price of products may be low, the focus should be on the Customer's Lifetime Value. From this number you will also get a better idea of the marketing investment you need to make.
- Performing in-depth research on a new location, market dynamics, and consumer differences is an important part of a digital marketing strategy.
TOPSHOP digital marketing
TOPSHOP is a U.K.-based fashion retailer with 510 stores worldwide. The brand also has a strong online presence, thanks to its virtual store.
TOPSHOP utilizes strong digital marketing strategies, which is the reason why most people are aware of the brand. Their online shop is built to accommodate a millennial target audience, by minimizing the amount of clicks a customer needs to go through, adding multiple filters, and offering loyalty discounts. The website is also seen as a hub for user-generated content as customers can create reviews and upload attachments. This element also adds to the development of a community, which is so important nowadays.
The retailer’s Facebook page is another way in which they promote their unique brand identity. The platform is one of the main promotional channels, since they often run ads, promotional videos and infomercials on their latest collections.
Topshop is also considered to be an innovative company, as it isn’t afraid to experiment with new technologies. In a digital marketing case study, researchers observed that over 2 million people attended a Facebook Livestream that Topshop hosted back in 2012 for their London Fashion Show.
Facebook Livestreams in 2012 were rather unusual, as the concept was still in its early stages of development. However, by delving in first, the company saw the tremendous value that came with it. Not only were viewers buying products online during the show, but they were also reviewing the products and sharing the retailer with their friends in real-time.
Here’s what’s working with Topshop’s digital marketing strategy:
- They concentrate on the channels that drive the most traffic.
- They innovate in these particular channels through continuous experimentation.
- They also maintain a blog that showcases their products and informs customers on the latest trends.
Uniqlo digital marketing
Established in 1974, Uniqlo is a Japanese retailer whose brand is all about comfortable essentials for women, men, and kids. They currently have over 2,249 stores across the world and operate an online store.
Uniqlo is one of the fastest-growing clothing brands in Asia, with stores in nearly every major city worldwide. There are a few reasons why the brand has had such a huge success. For one, they're focused on leveraging technology, advanced material, and product development instead of following the latest trends. This shows consumers that they have a clear purpose as an innovative, all-inclusive clothing retailer.
When they launched their HEATTECH line, they also launched the world’s first fast-moving images campaign. These digital billboards required viewers to take a picture of it in order to uncover a special online shopping code. This digital marketing campaign reached 4 million people and attracted 35,000 new customers.
Uniqlo is also marketing its brand as sustainable in a fast-fashion world. They’re doing this to attract a new market segment and promote their vaues, which in turn leads to increased engagement and customer loyalty. An example that you could look at to better understand this is the Lifewear line and their ECO bags.
Here’s what Uniqlo has excelled at with their digital marketing strategy:
- They enter new markets to attract new customer segments
- They focus on the "why" instead of the "what", by point onto the importance of commonly shared values.
- They aren’t afraid to take risks and experiment with different promotional practises.
Asos digital marketing
Asos is an online-only store that sells its clothing line along with popular brands such as Adidas and Vans.
Asos is considered to be one of the most successful digital brands. This is in part because the wide variety of digital channels they use to promote their brand. However, they balance their promotional efforts by "laser targetting" many different segments of their audience. The ability to do so successfully comes from data they have managed to collect over the years.
They’ve also incorporated an omni-channel approach with several paid and organic channels to increase the reach of online marketing. ASOS’s Head of Marketing Analytics believes that, apart from targetting, reach is also a very important element when it comes to digital marketing.
More specifically, the ASOS Twitter page has been a powerful tool to grow their digital marketing strategy. They update customers, share outfit ideas, and offer exclusive deals to their followers on the app. They’ve also promoted the #As SeenOnMe campaign so that customers can empower themselves with their ASOS fashion while they recommend the store to social media followers.
Here is what you can learn from Asos:
- Seeking a balance between mass reach and targeting is the key to digital marketing success
- Engaging with customers through social media campaigns lessens the distance between the two parties
- Pushing for exclusive content and using hashtags can expedite the growth of the audience
Walmart digital marketing
Walmart is a multinational retail corporation with over 11,000 stores and clubs in 27 countries.
Walmart’s digital marketing strategy has a few highlights worth noting. First, they introduced the new self-serve advertising in 2019. The self-serve ads rival Amazon with both automatic and manual campaigns. This form of digital advertising aims to boost marketers’ ability to focus ads on customers’ specific shopping behaviors through utilizing previously collected data.
They also use artificial intelligence (AI) to automate campaigns, as over 90% of Americans shop at Walmart every year with 160 million weekly visitors to both their physical and online stores. Another strength of Walmart's is their focus on content mixing. On their social media platforms they incoroporate both video and photo, but never duplicate their Twitter and Facebook content.
They do this to tailor their content to each social media audience since Twitter users and Facebook users are part of different audience segments. They also include stories from their employees to establish themselves as a retailer that cares about their associates. This strengthens their online and offline environment.
What Walmart’s digital media strategy does well:
- There’s a wide variety of (less popular) digital promotion tools that they explore and make use of.
- They create unique content based on the platform it is later posted on.
- They highlight the company culture on digital channels, which in turn allows customer to better identify with them.
Digital marketing in retail industry - Takeaways
Primark, Topshop, Uniqlo, ASOS, and Walmart learned how to align their online presence with their products, brand message, and target audience in their unique way. Your company can improve its digital marketing in retail industry by doing the following:
- Knowing its niche and focusing on channels where the target audience can be found.
- Taking risks with new technological developments to engage with more customer segments.
- Being transparent online about the brand’s goals, products, values, and processes.
- Creating an exclusive environment for social media followers to cultivate a loyal fanbase.
- Mixing up their marketing on all digital channels to test and understand which bring the most traffic and sales.