Sears. Gymboree. Payless. Charlotte Russe. Diesel. Run the clock back twenty years, and this list is describing a pretty good section of your local mall. However, in 2019, these businesses are just a few members of retail royalty that have gone bankrupt.
In spite of this plethora of store closings, retail is generally doing well, as is ecommerce. And brick-and-mortar retail itself is also still performing. Even the digital giant Amazon has gone brick-and-mortar with its own physical stores.
The reality is that retail marketers need to adapt to the journey of today’s consumer, and that journey is far different than what it used to be. Retailers must think through all the touch points a consumer has in their purchase cycle and consider what they want to achieve along the way.
Here are some key points to consider:
What is driving your consumer to choose between physical and ecommerce?
Some consumers looking for value and the best prices visit retail stores for comparison shopping. Brands must amend their digital presence to meet those needs. Alternately, other shoppers are wary of crowds, long lines, and limited in-store selection, opting for a digital purchase instead. Brands must also update their physical presence to improve upon the user experience.
To alleviate the sharp Amazon sting, Best Buy brought a new CEO on board in 2012. One of Hubert Joly’s first action items was a price-matching guarantee. Customers who entered the store to personally try out the product felt empowered to buy on the spot—thanks to the guarantee. Further, he carved out showroom space for big brands, including Apple, Microsoft and Samsung so vendors could interact with customers.
Is your brick and mortar location fully utilized?
Just as TV is valued for its ability to bring sight, sound, and motion to a big screen, don’t forget that your store has the ability to
impress all five senses in a fully immersive, 3D, 360-degree experience. Digital can’t replicate that (yet)!
Tiffany & Co. took a major leap in London’s Covent Garden by opening an ‘Instagrammable’ atmosphere. Wanting to connect more with customers who loved the brand but did not want something too pricy, the iconic brand showcases an affordable blend of housewares and accessories in their ‘Style Studio.’ Customers can also have jewelry engraved while they shop.
How can you create a more experiential in-store experience?
Some disruptors have transformed their stores to allow customers to experience an immersive community. Brands such as Sonos and Samsung are creating an apartment-like atmosphere where shoppers can experience their products in an authentic environment. A Reebok Store in Paris has transformed its showroom into a literal “sport court” where patrons can play, creating a memorable shopping experience.
Defining an optimal encounter that aligns with your vision is imperative.
What should you do with social media?
Having a Facebook page is not a social media strategy. Retailers need to make a decision about how deeply they want to engage with consumers on social media and make sure they have the resources to follow through on that engagement.
Wendy’s, for example, has a strong Twitter presence, but not every retailer can afford to make that investment. Don’t set an expectation that you’ll interact with customers on social media if it is not within your capabilities.
Are you offering buy online pick up in store?
Offering the convenience of click-and-collect services is a must as retail locations look towards the future. Consumers are increasingly looking for retailers that can provide convenience and speed in their shopping experience. BOPIS [buy online, pick up in store] not only benefits the shopper but retailers as well by reducing operational costs and bringing the customer to the physical retail location where they will be tempted to make additional purchases.
To test the BOPIS waters, researchers designed a survey for secret shoppers to go on a shopping spree at 10 major retailers. Best Buy was crowned the winner, while Walmart was the last one out of the pool.
This is still in trial-and-error mode. Clearly, the retailers that took 10 minutes—an eternity—to fulfill an order need to take a more automated approach to slice precious minutes off the experience.
Are you properly calculating the impact of digital on in-store?
Or the other way around? Don’t worry if you’re not. Almost no one is!
The next time you enter “near me”, try to count the number of promoted pins that magically appear on a map. Simply press one and, voila!, a digital map is at your fingertips.
This is one trick up a marker’s sleeve to help raise awareness for businesses in your area. The Waze app is another way that retailers get their branded messages to digitally appear on your screen.
And, of course, the Facebook store visit metrics are playing in the space. Using location-based advertising techniques will help you expand your presence by seizing the attention of customers conducting research.
This analysis is the biggest riddle in retail today. There is a reason retailers pay big data-analytic bucks to trace the digital breadcrumbs back to the point of sale. You can employ digital coupons for in-store redemption to make a direct tie. Google and Facebook both offer offline attribution solutions. Old-school econometric regression analysis methods still have their place.
The real point isn’t whether or not you have it right today. The imperative is to start down the path. Test solutions and see how they can be applied to your business. There may be no perfect solution, but stagnation is death.
Jellyfish is a digital marketing agency based in the United Kindom.