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Brand Growth Through Diversification: Retail Trend or Risky Business?

The top 7 ways retailers are diversifying their footprint and gaining market share.

by Melanie Frank | March 24, 2022

Retailers today are faced with a myriad of options and opportunity when it comes to building their brand portfolio. But finding the right balance between trend and risk can be tricky.

The highly connected and competitive retail world fueled by consumer expectations and innovative new technologies is forcing retailers to think beyond the norm and push the limits of their comfort zone.

Retailers are expected to be present wherever their customers might want to shop. There’s no such thing as a “single-channel” retailer anymore.

Here are the top 7 ways retailers are diversifying their footprint and gaining market share.

 1.     Acquisitions

Acquiring complementary businesses, multiple banners and diversifying product assortments are a great way to gain market share (if you have deep pockets 😉).   

Christy Sports, a leading sports store retailer, is a great example of a retailer that has big plans for growth. Their growth strategy not only consists of acquiring complementary ski shops, but also on diversifying their product lines. Taking the seasonality of the ski industry into consideration, they are venturing into selling patio furniture, filling the same locations during the summer months. Read their success story.

According to data from Trading Platforms, IPOs across industries reached a two-decade high in 2020, reaching 407 — a 109% increase year over year. Here’s a full list of major retail deals.

Remember the more diversified the more to manage. If you don’t have the right technology backing your business, you will fall short of your growth expectations.

2.     Pop-Up Stores

Pop-up shops also known as “mobile branded roadshows” are a great way to extend the reach of your brand. These temporary retail “mini-me’s” are literally popping up everywhere from street corners and outdoor events like music festivals to inside malls and airports. The benefits are endless. They’re affordable, trendy and a fantastic marketing tool that often creates a buzz. They can also be a great way to test products and experiment with your brand. Consider offering “limited edition” items to attract and encourage new customers.

According to a Forrester study, 32% of brands will be establishing or expanding their use of pop-up and in-person experiences in the next year. Kylie Cosmetics, Ikea, Birchbox and luxury retailer Dior have all successfully launched pop-up stores.

3.    Stores Within Stores

The growing trend of retail partnerships is gaining popularity and for good reason. Consumers want convenience and having a one-stop shop makes it fun and easy. Who doesn’t want to pick up dog food while shopping for tools? Here are a few examples of shops within shops:

  • Sephora within Kohl’s
  • Petco within Lowe’s
  • Ulta Beauty within Target
  • Party Experts within Canadian Tire

This new trend can be beneficial for both parties. These new “destinations” attract more in-store traffic with a wider customer base. Having a partner also helps to cover running costs by paying rent for the space they occupy in the store, while at the same time allowing for new product assortments. The downside revolves around data and the customer experience.  Who owns all of the customer data that is collected and is the store associate giving the same level of service that your brand is adhered to?  It’s definitely something to think about before jumping into this type of partnership.

4.    Social Commerce/Influencers

According to Statista, there were over 3.6 billion social media users globally in 2020, and this number is expected to reach 4.4 billion by 2025. For a retailer, the market potential is enormous. Retailers that have tapped into the social commerce craze are already reaping the benefits and it’s only just getting started.

Platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook and Pinterest, with the latest addition of Twitter, offer retailers the opportunity to not only sell their products through these social apps, but also to use influencers to push their products even further. Getting your products in front of new users also has the potential to grow your audience exponentially.

These days it’s all about the consumer. You’ve got to be where they are, digitally use what they use and engage with them in meaningful ways. Remember, connecting with them socially means you’re playing in their territory. Make sure you’re offering meaningful and frictionless experiences.

Being successful in social commerce ultimately comes down to having a strong omnichannel strategy — one that unifies all business channels to create a consistent and engaging customer experience across every touch point.

5.    Multiple Websites

It’s no secret that e-commerce has exploded in recent years. (e-commerce market researcher Digital Commerce 360 estimates that US e-commerce grew 14% in 2021.) Consumers appreciate the convenience, time savings and ease of e-commerce. But for a retailer the competitiveness of the digital landscape can be fierce. How can digital retailers remain relevant and be “the chosen one” when there’s so much competition?

Well, some savvy retailers are creating “sister” sites that specialize in either specific items or price points. For example, in addition to their main website, Lids has launched a new site:  The website was solely created for limited-addition items, thus creating a frenzy and waiting list for limited-edition merchandise. The younger generation is all about item drops!

Harry Rosen, a luxury menswear retailer, has launched FinalCut with hopes to engage a new younger demographic. This new site offers a more palatable price point of luxury items.

With the addition of any new website be ready to take on the logistics side of things. The “I want it now” consumer is expecting seamless shopping experiences at every touch point. Harry Rosen has recently implemented a new Warehouse Management System that will streamline time-consuming processes and accelerate allocation and omnichannel order fulfillment. Read the press release.

6.    Marketplaces

As the saying goes, if you can’t beat them join them. Marketplace leaders such as Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Etsy, Rakuten etc. are a few examples of online giants that offer consumers a convenient way to compare prices and products, and shop from a single source.

Research by Marketplaces Worldwide stated that in 2020, 47% of global e-commerce sales were made through online marketplaces, accounting for close to two trillion dollars. For some retailers it’s an opportunity to promote and offer products on a much larger scale to a wider audience, but for others it’s not as advantageous.

Marketplaces have strict terms and conditions, charge commission and sometimes have limitations as to how your business can brand its online presence. Make sure you take the time to consider how marketplaces can fit into your long-term business strategy.

7.    Metaverse/NFTs/Gamification

The Metaverse is all the buzz these days with more and more retailers jumping into this new “unchartered trend.”  What’s there not to get excited about?! Bringing your brand to life through a virtual world is intriguing and exciting.

The Metaverse allows the audience (customers) to be immersed in virtual environments, whether they are gaming, building personalized environments and, yes, even shopping – all without leaving the virtual experience! The Metamall is a metaverse platform that allows users to buy, own, build, develop real estate and stake the virtual real estate as non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

There is a lot of excitement around the potential for consumers in the Metaverse and many retailers are already experimenting.  Gucci, Nike and Forever 21 are all using the Roblox platform (a video game and creation platform) and creating experiences for a plugged-in audience.

Have you heard of Decentraland? Decentraland (MANA) is a virtual reality platform powered by the Ethereum blockchain. It allows users to create, experience, and monetize content and applications. Check it out – it’s where users can create, explore and trade in the first-ever virtual world owed by its users.

We are in the beginning stages of an entire new era for retail, from digital goods and NFTs (non-fungible tokens) to virtual experiences. It’s only the tip of the iceberg: technology is moving and it’s moving fast!

Caution: there’s a lot of hype, confusion and misinformation out there so before you start to strategize your Metaverse journey make sure you have a leader on your team that is a blockchain expert.

It’s never been a more exciting time to be a retailer. The opportunity for growth and expansion is for the taking. There is no “one size fits all” in this industry and retailers need to decide the right strategy, whether it’s on trend or if you are willing to take the risks. By implementing the right strategy and connected technology you will be more aligned to achieving and maintaining brand longevity and growth.


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