It’s not always easy for small businesses to bring in foot traffic.

But brick-and-mortar stores who know how to promote their brand can be successful at drawing in customers. In the current retail atmosphere, selling online might seem like the more lucrative and convenient option, but with the proper promotional ideas for retail stores, brick-and-mortar merchants are able to be such as successful as their online counterparts.

Though at times it might seem that brick-and-mortar merchants have the cards stacked against them, they actually are working at an advantage by being able to connect with their customers and provide consistently great customer experience. If you’re afraid that big online stores with rock-bottom prices are going to wipe out your small business, consider the fact that 86 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience. That’s an impressive statistic to pay attention to. To help give you a leg up on the competition, here are some promotion ideas for retail stores to try out at your business.

1. Markdowns

Everybody loves to get something for less and some people will actually wait until an item goes on sale before buying it, so our first promotional idea for retail stores is an obvious one: markdowns. Stores that don’t offer sales, or that only offer small occasional discounts, are missing out on this promotional winner.

For clothing stores, the change of season marks the time for you to put all of last season’s items on sale. Items that were once hot and trendy that have now been replaced by the next hot and trendy item can be put on sale. For grocery stores, seasonal items such as pumpkin spice and candy canes should be discounted after the holidays. You get the picture. You also don’t want to ignore slow-moving items, whether seasonal or not. You don’t want old inventory hanging around your business, collecting dust, and taking up valuable shelf space. Put these items on sale to make room for either new or more profitable goods.

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2. Master the Art of the Window Display

Creative and appealing window displays are an art form and can be an important way to advertise promotions for retail stores. Window displays can be anything you want them to be. You can recreate an exotic location, make a political statement, be humorous or anything in between. The options are limitless. What’s important, however, is to make sure that your window display clearly conveys what your business sells or the retail promotion you are offering. Presenting a clear and strong statement will intrigue those passing by your business to take a moment to visit your store.

3. Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs are a great promotional idea for retail stores to show their appreciation of repeat customers. Using purchasing history and customer data pulled from your POS system can help you craft personalized promotions to send to your customers.

More and more customers expect businesses to approach them with personalized offers instead of blanket promotions. If a client usually stops in every Friday for an iced latte, send them a coupon for 20 percent off their latte this Friday.

You can also consider adopting different platforms for your loyalty programs including email, social media, and SMS. For text messaging, make sure you offer exclusive promos that differ from those you share via other channels. This way, you encourage customers to enter your SMS loyalty club. Giving customers choices on how they can be contacted also shows you’re paying attention to their preferences.

4. Hold Events

Giving customers a unique experience at your store can help bring more people in the door and, ideally, boost sales. Holding a holiday party, a themed event or a class can be a way to entertain and/or educate clients about your products or services. If the event is successful, you can count on more people coming to the next one, making this a powerful promotional idea for retail stores. If done correctly, holding events is one of the more effective ways to demonstrate customer appreciation.

5. Leverage Social Media

Even if you’re not selling online, it doesn’t mean you can’t use the internet to your advantage. Social media can be a great place for small businesses to promote their merchandise or services.

But before you jump into the social media frenzy, it’s important to do you research and identify which social media channel (or channels) are the most appropriate for your business to engage. Though, ideally, you want to have a presence on all the major social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) if you have limited bandwidth, starting with one is fine. Just make sure to identify where your customers are. You don’t want to be posting on Instagram if your customers primarily reside on Facebook.

Once you’ve identified your channel (or channels) to start with, make sure to become familiar with the features of each channel and use them to not only promote your business but to provide added value to your customers.

SEE ALSO: 5 Social Media Tips for Small Business Success

6. Start a YouTube Channel

More and more customers are interested in DIY solutions. Looking up information online is a huge part of consumer research. Starting a YouTube channel that chronicles your knowledge about your area or showcases how unique your merchandise is can help promote your brand, generate interest, and establish you as an expert. If you can help answer their questions and provide them with information, chances are they’ll also want to buy from you.

7. Rent a Stand at a Local Fair

As a small business, a lot of your customers will be people who happen to pass by your store. This makes fairs and events the perfect place for you to introduce your brand to a wider audience. High volumes of foot traffic at these events will give you the opportunity to promote merchandise or services and bring in new customers who otherwise wouldn’t have come into contact with your store. As far as promotion ideas for retail stores go, being able to connect with your local community and have real-life connections with potential customers is a great way to start building your brand.

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8. Sell Locally-Made Products

The movement to “go local” is the opposite of online shopping. The rise of the conscious consumer and the desire to support local products and brands has helped to increase small business revenue. In 2015, local and regional brands represented 46 percent of retail purchases.

Consumers who support local products also tend to be more loyal and do more research before buying. Selling regionally produced items is a great example of a promotional idea for retail stores that can really make a difference.

9. Support Your Community

Along the same lines as selling local products, showing that you support your community by making a donation or even hosting a charitable event can also increase your store’s reputation. In the end, everything isn’t always about the bottom line. People also like to feel good about buying from a certain brand or store. Showing that you care about the place where you live can impact how customers see you and your business.

SEE ALSO: 10 Ways Small Business Benefit the Local Community


These are just a few promotion ideas for retail stores: offering markdowns, promoting local products, hosting events, and other ideas can all help small businesses keep their sales strong. Just try new things, test what works, and remember that your business needs to keep up with the expectations of your customers.

Tracy Blanchard

Tracy Blanchard

Tracy Blanchard is a seasoned freelance writer and business blogger. In her articles, she focuses on how to run small businesses, build long-lasting customer relationships, and achieve better team productivity.