By Nik Sharma
Happy Sunday! I hope if you’re reading this, you had a successfully relaxing weekend, got a good amount of rest, ate some good food, and you’re ready to get chatty about driving sell-through in retail.
Before we jump into that, please do take 23 seconds to copy the link below, open iMessage, find a marketing friend, and send them your link — it would really mean a lot.
Just copy and share your link here: I guess if you have an Android you can send the referral link with your green bubble message, too. ❤️
I contributed to an eBook around Growth Strategies that Ash Read from Wayflyer put together. If you remember the Buffer’s Built to Last audio series, he created that as well. Myself, Nick Shackelford, Chase Dimond, Savannah Sanchez, and others contributed. You can get that eBook on this landing page.
Last week, after announcing HOOX, we got such an overwhelming response from so many readers looking for a landing page (or 4!). With their blessing, I’ll share some of the pages here as they go live! If you need a landing page from me, submit an order on the HOOX website.
Today I wanted to talk about something that we’ve been doing more and more with our clients at Sharma Brands — going live in retail. Specifically, supporting the sell-through of the product as it goes live in retail channels (Target, Walmart, Costco, Sprouts, etc.).
The early days of going live, on the shelf, in a new retailer are so critical for the success of the brand at that store. If you drive enough sell-through early on, you’re not only getting additional POs, but you’re also getting placement in the chain’s own advertising. If you have low sell-through, even with just a single SKU, you risk being removed from the store.
For context, if you sell well, the store works with you to get more shelf space, end caps, advertising, more doors, etc. For this reason, it’s so critical to activate different muscles of your marketing machine and cater to what drives sell-through.
Below is what I would look for in each part of a retail (or even a marketplace) launch. This is from my own experience, Sharma Brands’ client experience, and ideas I have that I believe would work.
The most common thought is to just run ads on Facebook and Instagram that say “Now available at Target” with some kind of a video going to a store locator. That should drive sell-through, right? Absolutely not — it never works.
Just recently CAVA, the fast-casual restaurant, ran a (presumably expensive) Facebook campaign with Emma Chamberlain for her branded bowl. When you click the link, you get to a store-locator that’s not a very pretty user experience on mobile. Right there, someone is dropping out and has no interest in going further. My first thought was, why wasn’t there a landing page with content around WHY Emma even has a bowl with CAVA, what went inside it (which is what I was looking for), and how long it’s available for? I was hurting inside, as a marketer, knowing how once-in-a-lifetime an Emma Chamberlain campaign can be and that there wasn’t a landing page.
With that, my first recommendation is to build a landing page. If you’re launching 5 SKUs into Sprouts, go into what the products are, explain it as if someone can buy it there, and then make it easy for someone to find the nearest Sprouts store near them — whether you embed the store locator, or hyperlink the store locator on the retailer’s website.
PS — See if the retailer will give you analytics on the specific traffic you drive. I know with CVS, you can ask for reports based on custom UTMs to your brand’s traffic.
In addition to a landing page, I would also add an “Available at Target” (using the retailer’s actual logo) and see if your CTR goes down or CPA goes up as a result of your website retargeting campaigns. If not, keep it there. If it goes down, remove it.
A form of paid media that is rarely done but can be effective with large budgets is buying display inventory on premium publishers, directly. If you can get an article coupled with that, even better.
Newsletters with more consumer-like readerships also do really good for certain retailers. For example, TheSkimm drives great sell-through with Target stores. Find some newsletters with an audience that matches the retailer’s audience.
Lastly, anything that does well on organic social, talking about how the brand is being distributed at a retailer… put paid media behind it and hit the gas!
Organic Social Media
On Instagram, promote the retail placement ruthlessly! In every post, tag the retailer, maybe even add the fact that it’s available at the store, in each caption.
Use highlights at the top of your profile to show what retailers carry your product, and swipe up to a retailer-specific landing page on your website, or a store locator.
On TikTok, throw 100 different videos of you walking into the store to grab it, check out, try it, and get a reaction. For some reason, they do really well.
Anything that does well organically, put paid media behind it.
On your website itself, you come to a dilemma: do I want someone to see it’s available at Target and not buy online? The truth is, people will buy your product where they want. Whether it’s in retail or they still choose to buy online is up to them — so don’t be afraid to advertise on your site that you are available at a retailer.
Make sure in your navbar, within your homepage/PDPs, and in your footer, you make it easily known there is a store locator available. The number of times I’ve gone to a DTC brand’s website to see where the closest place I could buy it right away and been unable to find that is mind-blowing.
At the end of the day, your product is still getting in someone’s hands, and that’s all that matters.
If you want to be cautious about how to make sure you don’t completely lose sales online, then get smarter around merchandising for the online customer vs the offline customer. For example, at Hint, we had the top 5 flavors available in retail and on Amazon, but online we emphasized the other flavors, as well as a subscription program that made more sense for avid drinkers.
Lastly, make sure you properly pixel your website to know how people leave your store locator. If they’re going to store A vs store B, they might hold a different value to you when you put them into an audience down the road.
Creators, Influencers, and PR Activations
Having creators with audiences purchase and talk about your product being available in retail is SO necessary when you launch. Not only does it drive foot traffic into the store, but it’s a great look to your retail partner.
Again, back at Hint, we did a $100k influencer campaign that Liz Eswein put together for us and it helped us move the needle across the country. Liz worked backward from Target’s customer persona, found us a list of creators who also fit the Hint demographic and it made magic.
In addition to influencers on social media, you want to also cover the organic search angle with bloggers and writers. That includes organic press stating you’re available at a retailer as well as bloggers who can review the product and write about being available in a retailer.
There is never enough content!
Email & SMS
You already have an audience who you know are fans of you. Now it’s time to activate them! Almost every time, these email & SMS recipients are extremely excited to show their support and go buy from a retailer.
With 21 Seeds Tequila, that was a frequent tactic when sell-through was needed (and now Diageo acquired them!). I also remember Jake Kassan explaining how when they launched in Nordstrom, he put his most popular style on the MVMT Watches website out of stock and told people to go purchase it from Nordstrom. It drove a flood of traffic and made MVMT look a lot bigger than they were at the time, to Nordstrom.
Obvi, a supplements brand, also did something pretty cool recently by telling their customers that if they emailed in their receipts from buying at Rite Aid, they can earn 3x more points on their account.
Coupons & Cash Back Apps
You’ve probably seen the apps that tell you something like, “Get paid to shop” before? Those are apps like Ibotta, Fetch Rewards, Rakuten, and others, whereas a brand you can set a bounty for every purchase someone makes.
So if someone goes to buy your bottle of soap from a store and they scan a receipt, they’ll get $3 back in their account in exchange.
Personally, I’m a bigger fan of leveraging your owned loyalty program for something like this, so at least the reward comes out of your own margin, but these apps get you in front of more people, so there’s a tradeoff.
TV and Out of Home Ads
Nothing too special here. If you’re already running TV or Out of Home ads, add the store logos. If you’re not, it might be worth testing TV at a low budget through something like Hulu’s self-service ads platform.
If you’re looking to run some Out of Home, I would recommend working with Brian Rappaport to find OOH placements that are strategically around the retailers you want.
NFT for a Reward
This idea I thought of last night, and will likely test soon with a brand. If someone buys your product in retail and proves it with a receipt, they can mint an NFT that demonstrates they are an early supporter of the brand. In exchange, they’ll receive the benefits that you put together.
Technology-wise, this is something that can be accomplished by installing Novel on your website. You can then mint the tokens and segment customers who are your best retail customers.
Ok, that’s all I have right now. I will send updates to this if I find more avenues to launch in retail. All of this can work with launching on something as simple as Amazon, too.
Alright, on to some fun stuff…
Vendor of the Week:
Tapcart — The Drag & Drop Builder to Turn Your Shopify Store into an App
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned Tapcart after being blown away by their demo. Then this past week, we started putting together an iPhone and Android app for the brand, and it’s actually insane how easy it is to build the app.
The entire app-building process is all drag and drop (even easier than something like Unbounce), and adding app-exclusive promotions, codes, or content blocks are also easy to do. The other piece I’m excited about is the ability to track customers with an app, versus the pixel dilemma you have to deal with on your website.
Personally, I can’t wait to send push notifications that say “Marketing Test (DO NOT SEND): 25% off with GET25OFF” and see how much revenue we can drive. The Tapcart app makes it so easy to send instant push notifications or schedule them. You’re also not sending this to email or text, it’s right in front of someone’s phone, so ~99% of people SEE the message.
On average, Tapcart merchants see a 43x ROI (revenue divided by costs of Tapcart) and a 40% increase in conversion rate. With an installed app on someone’s phone, there is also a ~2.4x increase in customer LTV.
I asked Tapcart for a deal and they’re giving my newsletter readers a free month of Tapcart (which is enough time to build and push an app live). Just fill out this form and get started for free!
Jobs of the Week:
- Sharma Brands — Junior Video Editor
- Rho Business Banking — Director, Growth Marketing
- Long Wknd — Content Creator
Submit or apply for more roles on my jobs board!
Question of the Week:
If you could drop everything and magically be really good at something else, what would it be?
I think I would be a globally-touring DJ.
Last week’s winner was Seija with the answer, “Horse size horses have both ruined me financially and physically. I have no interest in learning what a horse size duck can do. Therefore, 10 duck-sized horses. Final answer.” 😂.
Brand of the Week:
Wavy Blue — A brand built for Black men that make waves, every day.
Combining ginseng, vitamin C, amino acids, bamboo, and coconut oil, Cam and Mckervin created a brand they felt was made for them. Their first product is their Curl & Coil Balm.
The lightweight balm allows you to hydrate, condition, and style your hair either at night before you sleep or in the morning as you start your day.
I placed an order to use it in my beard, and can’t wait to try it out.
Order the Curl & Coil Balm here!
That’s all for this week!
I hope this email was helpful to you. Remember, if you want/need a landing page (whether to sell online, or in retail), please visit HOOX.co or just reply here with questions.
Get those 9 hours of sleep tonight, and I’ll be back next week with another team. Same time. Same place.
Have an incredible week!