How to Create Lasting Retail Partnerships

By Aaron Blackman

Retail PartnershipMany retailers feel they are on their own when they begin in the industry or are growing or franchising their existing business. They often work hard at creating a well functioning and aesthetically pleasing store, increasing traffic through costly advertising and promotions and maintaining long term relationships with their customers – or at least they try to. Many retailers however, rarely stop to think that there are many more retailers similar to them in the exact-same-boat – striving to build and grow their businesses, on their own, against masses of competition.

As retailers, we are so busy working in the business, we rarely stop to consider all the potential mutually beneficial partnerships that can be created which can not only bring in more customers but also create lasting positive relationships in the industry.

Creating multiple strategic partnerships is an important element of long-term success in any business. It is especially important as online retail begins to grow with cheaper items available through various online stores. As mentioned at a Retail Leaders Forum, the next five years will see the most amount of change in retail worldwide compared to the last fifty years. This is being driven by both consumer behavior and technology changes.

As we embrace this change across all retail industries, those who actively seek and form strategic partnerships will be best placed in holding onto the growth in sales momentum. Whether this growth comes from foot traffic or referred sales, no one really minds, as long as they make a purchase and begin or continue the relationship with your business.

The most important keys to creating strategic partnerships in your retail business come down to these three essential steps:

1. Identify complementary businesses

Determine who shares the same target market as yours and whose products and services compliment yours rather than compete with yours.

So, if you are an appliance retailer selling consumer electronics for various brands targeting the male consumer (as an example), you could partner with neighboring retailers including cafes, food outlets, men’s fashion retailers, local business magazines, local publications and the list goes on.

2. Develop a compelling reason

Once you have a large list of businesses with a similar audience and a complementary product or service, think of why they would get into business with you?

Retail PartnershipSo, lead with what you can give the other business. How can you benefit their business? How can you help them? What are all the great reasons why working together with you will benefit their business?

You can send clients to their business, you can share your list with them, and you can help promote their brand. Ensure it is a WIN/WIN scenario. I will share mine, if you share yours.

3. Develop a compelling offer

What are all the physical products and services you can give in exchange for access to their list? By list, we mean access to their list of customers – getting in front of their customers, whether that is via email, phone, print or in-store.

You could pay a revenue share in exchange for their promotion (affiliate), you could give free trials to your product or service, you could do a giveaway, something for free, and the options are endless.

So, in the case of the consumer electronics for males, two example offers could include 10% off for the local cafe patrons or free accessories when they purchase a main electronics product for the men’s fashion retailer. Or if they have an online list or newsletter, you could get in front of those potential customers by offering a giveaway or promotion or something small and free. Tips for online lists are to giveaway ‘free’ items if possible and look at options to making them infinitely scalable like an eBook, video series, webinar or white paper.

Build Your Relationships

Start a relationship with your prospects and plan for long term. One positive relationship can exponentially affect your business in a positive way. Partner with as many local retailers as possible. As you begin to grow, you can begin to partner with online retailers, businesses and promoters to expand your reach even further. Remember to think of yourself as part of a team of service providers rather than you against the world.

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller