The 4 E’s of Retail Success

Ditch the 4 P's model for marketing your small business, you may want to update your strategy to the 4 E's approach.
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Retail is more than just price points and products. Use the 4 E's to take your business to the next level. (Photo: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock)

Since the 1960s, business schools have taught the 4 P’s model for marketing decision-making: product, price, promotion and placement.

“Each of these points help position a product to stand out from its competition and offer value,” explained Nicole Reyhle, founder of Retail Minded and author of “Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Retail Business.” “What the product is, how much it is sold for, where it will be represented — via promotional opportunities in both media and in stores via placement — all add up to be important components of a product finding strength in the marketplace and getting attention from consumers.”

But as the current retail environment continues to evolve, product positioning alone doesn’t cut it anymore. Brands must learn to deliver memorable experiences if they want to be successful.

“The rules of retail — including the rules of what the 4 P’s used to mean — are not black and white. They are constantly evolving and must be adapted to in order to support the changing consumer landscape,” she said.

To help retail marketers adjust to the current environment, a new formula has been proposed to replace the 4 P’s — the 4 E’s: experience, exchange, evangelism and everyplace. As a small business owner, here’s what you need to know about the 4 E’s model and how it can help shape your marketing strategy.

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“The experience offered by retailers should be one that is both impactful and memorable.” -Nicole Reyhle (Photo: Nicole Reyhle)

Experience

According to Reyhle, the consumer’s experience has become the crux of retail. Merchants must find ways to offer positive and unique experiences that turn one-time shoppers into repeat customers, she said. In short, retail is no longer about what you sell, but how you sell it.

“The experience offered by retailers should be one that is both impactful and memorable. As a merchant, ask yourself how you are offering an experience to your customers that makes them want to shop with you again and again and again — because what you offer is something they want to experience again and again and again,” she said.

Related: How to Bake a Superior Customer Experience into Your Business

The experiences you give your customers will vary depending on who you are and what you sell, said Reyhle. “Experiences may vary from hands-on product experiences to a knowledgeable sales staff supporting your customers and engaging activities offered in your store — or even online — that benefits the customer experience.”

Exchange

“Retail is a give-and-take environment, with customers and merchants alike having to exchange moments and experiences to bring retail to life,” said Reyhle.

For consumers, price will always play a major role in purchase decision-making. But in the experience economy, it’s only part of the equation. Customers are looking for retailers to interact and engage with them, exchanging ideas and providing value beyond the bottom-line price point.

Evangelism

In the 4 E’s model, evangelism replaces promotion. Consumers are constantly inundated by brands pushing products and are quick to “tune out” advertisements. However, when your small business provides a positive and memorable experience, customers are more likely to become evangelists and help promote your brand for you.

“Being a store that someone wants to tell others about is important.” -Nicole Reyhle

“Being a store that someone wants to tell others about is important,” said Reyhle. “This type of brand marketing is valuable and leads to loyal customers and new customers alike.”

Related: How to Turn Customers Into Loyal Brand Ambassadors

Everyplace

The final piece of the 4 E’s concept is “everyplace,” which highlights how much retail has changed since the arrival of the internet.

Gwen Schlefer

“E-commerce companies that sell on their own website and at least one marketplace experience 38 percent more revenue than those who don’t use a marketplace.” -Gwen Schlefer (Photo: Gwen Schlefer)

“The touchpoints of retail are no longer linear,” explained Reyhle. “From mobile and social media to in-store, websites and more, consumers need to be able to find your business anywhere, at any time.”

Having a distributed brand presence doesn’t mean you have to sell your products online, but it can definitely extend your reach.

According to Gwen Schlefer, marketing manager for the e-commerce marketplace Bonanza.com, taking a multichannel approach to promoting your retail business is the best way to increase brand recognition and sales.

Related: 3 Ways to Use Consumer Psychology to Boost E-Commerce Sales

“E-commerce companies that sell on their own website and at least one marketplace experience 38 percent more revenue than those who don’t use a marketplace,” she said. “Add a third channel to your mix and you could experience 129 percent more revenue.”

Reyhle said the 4 E’s teach retailers how to adjust their thinking from selling a product or service to creating a positive experience for customers.

“Consumers today want their brand and product experiences to be memorable and one that they want to exchange with others. Influencer marketing is a position everyone holds because word-of-mouth marketing is so valuable for brands nowadays — and something that can happen at anytime, in every place. This is truly the value that 4 E’s offers retailers.”

Related: How to Execute a Customer-Centric Marketing Strategy

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