Retail and the shopping experience have evolved over the years. Back in the day, calling up a company and ordering something from a catalog was the height of retail sophistication. These days, nearly a third of consumers shop using their smartphones or other mobile devices at least once a month, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Total Retail Survey 2017. That’s why retail content marketing is so important.

The Total Retail Survey made another important discovery: Shoppers today are more interested in the “story” behind a retailer or store, not the advertising. Nearly 40 percent look towards social media for shopping inspiration. That means that smart retailers are going to rely on content marketing to stay connected with current customers, and to reach out to new or potential customers.

Retail content marketing lets you connect with your customers by sharing your brand’s story. It also means that there’s something for the customer to connect with at every stage of the purchasing journey. Take a look at a few great examples of retail content marketing and see how you can make it work for your store.

Top Examples of Retail Content Marketing

Sephora Retail Content Marketing

Sephora Virtual Artist

One of the challenges of buying makeup is that you have no way to know if it will work on you unless you get to try it out first. That’s why in-store makeover and tester products are a common sight at cosmetic stores and counters. But you can’t really “try before you buy” if you’re shopping for cosmetics online.

Since 37 percent of global shoppers purchase beauty products online, finding a way for those shoppers to try out the products first can help with decision making and cut down on returns. That’s why Sephora’s Virtual Artist app is such a great example of retail content marketing.

The app lets a shopper “try on” lipstick, eye shadow, or various makeup artist-designed “looks,” using a smartphone or webcam. Although the app is far from perfect, it does give a shopper a good sense of whether that coral lipstick is a buy or a pass, or whether he or she can pull of a cat eye with liner.

Kate Spade Retail Content Marketing

Kate Spade MissAdventure

The MissAdventure series, starring actor Anna Kendrick, is just one example of the content marketing fashion and accessories brand Kate Spade has pulled off.

Although you might assume that the videos are extended commercials for the brand, they’re not. Little mention is made of Kate Spade (though Kendrick does wear the brand’s clothes and carry its bags). Instead, the focus is on the trials and travails of Kendrick as she goes about her day.

The brand recently launched a second series for MissAdventure, creating a sense that their goal is to be less like a fashion commercial and more like a TV series. To do that, it had video promotions on Hulu and a print ad in the “NY Times.”

John Lewis Retail Content Marketing

John Lewis Christmas Video

Every holiday season, British department store John Lewis produces a Christmas video ad. Although the video is the main attraction, it’s part of a larger campaign the store launches each holiday season. For example, in 2016, the store had a product line featuring Buster the Boxer and his buddies. Part of the proceeds from the sale of those products went to a charity. The store also had an interactive, virtual reality “Buster’s Garden” in one of its stores, and a 360-degree video featuring the garden online.

Putting Together a Retail Content Marketing Plan

When creating a retail content marketing plan or strategy for your own store, it helps to keep several things in mind.

First, who are your customers and what do they want from you? If your store has been in business for any length of time, you’ve most likely gotten both complaints and praise from your shoppers. Use those to create content that solves a problem.

The next thing to think about is the type of content your shoppers are going to want. Do they need style guides to help them figure out how to wear trendy pieces? Are they looking for gift ideas for children or teenagers? Or do they need help figuring out whether product A or product B is the best for them?

Finally, you want to promote your content. Social media, email marketing, and even print ads are all ways to get the content out there.

Today’s shoppers have more choice than ever before. Using content marketing can help your store stand out from the pack and retain or gain customers.