Sales promotions directed at trade or channel members

A retailer may also use sales promotions to interact directly with the members of the trade. This may be done by way of taking part in trade fairs, exhibitions and conferences. Trade fairs and exhibitions are gradually becoming popular in India. For the manufacturer it is opportunity to showcase the products and services offered and interact with the buyers. In India, the India International Garment fair, India International Leather Fair, Textile Machinery Exposition and the Leather Goods fair organized by the government and various commercial bodies are examples of the same.

The basic idea of a sales promotion is to attract attention to the brand or to the retail store. Care should be taken to ensure that there is coordination between advertising and sales promotions.

Public relations and publicity

Public relation is a marketing communications function, which aims at fostering goodwill. An important component of public relations is publicity. By way of public relations, the retail organization strives to create and sustain a favorable image with consumers, shareholders suppliers and the public at large. The job of public relations is usually handled by an outside Public Relations firm and may be created to promote goodwill for the organization to promote a particular product or service or to counteract negative publicity.

An organization may integrate the PR effort by way of press releases, feature stories and company newsletters or by interview with the press or press conferences.

Publicity is a non paid form of media coverage. In today’s world it is rarely free and a fair amount of skill has to be exercised by the organization to ensure that the right media coverage is achieved. Examples of events in retail, which may merit publicity, are:

1) Store Openings
2) Store renovations
3) Celebrity visits and affiliations
4) Designer associations
5) New product ranges and launches
6) Awards received by the retailer
7) Fashion shows and sponsored events

In order to gain positive publicity considerable amount of effort has to be put into creating the press kit and holding the press conference. The event or the promotion or the features of the product have to be discussed with members of the press. The press may need a history of the organization which needs to be researched and well written. Considerable effort also needs to be put into arranging the photo sessions, which may be needed.

Personal Selling

Personal selling is a paid form of personal advertising where salespeople assist customers in satisfying their needs through a person to person exchange of information. It is a process of learning the needs and wants of the buyer and of striving to satisfy them with the required product or service.

Personal selling may occur within the environs of the retail store – where personal selling deals with the sales person satisfying the needs of the consumers. It may also occur outside the retail store where orders are taken from customers by way of the telephone, Internet or mail and that are then serviced.

The other tools of communications are aimed at markets or segments of the target audience. Personal selling is precise. It is aimed at a specific individual/s. Developing a strong sales force is hence an expensive proposition as the sales person has to be trained on various aspects of communication and understanding the body language of the customer. He also needs to be knowledgeable about the features of the products and services offered by the retailer.

Point of purchase (POP) displays

The dictionary of retailing defines Point-of-purchase communication as the promotional signs and interior displays often located at the point of sale or alongside displays of merchandise. Point of purchase (POP) displays has become integral to retail today. They help reinforce in-store / product branding enhanced retail sales floor communication and provide information to the customer.

The basic function of POP in a retail store is to induce sales. It works with advertising and sales promotions to reinforce the messages being communicated. The communication materials for this purpose in a retail store include posters, danglers, flyers, glow signs translate banners etc.

A research done by the POP Advertising Institute (POPAI) revealed that 70 per cent of all purchasing decisions are made in store. In case of mass merchandisers, 74 per cent of band decisions are made in store. At supermarkets, 70 per cent of band decisions are made in-store. This is evidence of the importance of POP. While these figures are a reflection of the American market, with the rise of self service formats in India, the importance of POP is bound to increase.

The role of POP changes significantly wit the type of product being sold ad the customer’s involvement in the purchase. Different types of POP material would be relevant in different types of stores and environment. For example the kind of POP material that would be sued in the women’s wear section of a department store would probably emphasize the style fashion, quality and the price. Sometimes special offers that may be on the store may also be emphasized.

On the other hand in case of a supermarket, POP may be used to indicate prices, the location of products and any special or bargain offers that may be on offer in the store. POP in a store selling consumer durables and electronics may lay stress on the features of the product, the warranties and guarantees and the after sales service provided in the outlet.