One week from today, retailers will be embracing a new trend among consumers, known as “nonline” shopping. In The EGC Group’s latest research report, titled How to Prepare for the First “Nonline” Retail Season: Top Trends and Takeaways for this 2012 Holiday Retail Season, we learn that more consumers than ever will be using their smartphones and tablets to compare prices while in-store, allowing them to view the product in person while getting the best bang-for-their-buck. During Black Friday weekend, this trend could be a serious detriment to brick-and-mortar retailers.
With the help of technology, consumers now have the upper hand in what has traditionally been a retailer-dominated power dynamic. Customers can use a store simply as a showroom where they can view and test products that they will later buy online for a better price. Not surprisingly, this nonline trend has been frustrating for retailers who must now struggle to compete with websites like Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, and WalMart.com.
EGC suggests a variety of measures that store owners can take to salvage their sales. The most obvious next step would be for retailers to lower their prices to be more competitive; however, many retailers simply cannot afford to do so. EGC also suggests that retailers can offer free shipping to customers upon the arrival of out-of-stock items. The report notes: “Experts report that free shipping is the biggest draw for a consumer to shop your brand or product, and has become expected by most consumers.”
Lastly, if a retailer has an associated online shopping portal, it is important for the store’s special offers to be consistent with the online offers. If your retail channels are out of sync, your brand is out of sync. This nonline shopping trend has proved – more than ever before – that the digital space and the physical store have merged. After all, today’s consumer could be shopping in your store, on your website, or even both at the same time.
Click here to download the full report.
Written by Justin Lashley, Business Development Manager
As someone who recently joined Pinterest, I’m happily surprised, to see the levels of adoption and amplification.
If you don’t know what Pinterest is, it is essentially a “virtual pinboard,” that allows users to collect images, items, recipes, etc., from the web and keep them tagged onto their own “pinboards” ─ which can be shared with other Pinterest users.
I myself have been astonished with the network’s content and functionality. I’ve shared products I love, plan to buy, or “one-day-hope-to-buy”. What’s best is that I’m sharing all of my product wishes with friends.
As a marketer, I’m even happier to see the implications to retail. The article below notes just how Pinterest affects retail marketing.
Social media helps companies in many different ways from customer service, product feedback and building customer loyalty. Fortunately for retailers, they have an advantage to jumpstart this engagement and really start conversations. The key is doing it right.
In DC, there is a fast-casual restaurant that took full advantage of their retail locations to engage both in store and through social media. Through a contest to win a year’s supply of restaurant food, Sweetgreen asked customers to tell them their New Year’s Resolution. They could post it in store or tweet #sweet2012 or text. The store in Bethesda I walked by, used their entire windowscape to promote the contest. There were tons of sticky notes and plenty of twitter usage.
What’s key is that Sweetgreen recognized that social engagement isn’t just a counter card. It became their windowscape and integral to their promotion. Retailers, need to understand the opportunity that they have and extend the in store experience to the digital world. When you do this your campaign is more successful and you extend the relationship you have with your customers and future customers.
Launching a retail campaign and need to quickly ensure its success? Here are some very simple tips to optimize your retail advertising campaign:
- Social Media “Gut Check”: The new path that shoppers take includes an entire influence process. They are talking to their friends about you on social media before visiting your website. Listen to what types of conversations are taking place about your brand or retail location, and make sure it’s good – before launching a paid campaign. There are many free options for this, using a Twitter search, HootSuite, Google Alerts and more.
- Optimization: Make sure your media planning is fluid. Don’t lock into a schedule or commitment that does not allow you to optimize daily.
- Mobile: More customers are reacting to your retail campaign on mobile devices than you think. Your coupons and offers should be accessible on a mobile friendly website, and your campaign should be integrated with geo location sites like Foursquare.
- Call to Action: If it’s retail and intended to do some heavy lifting, make sure your offer or call to action is strong and compelling. Too many advertisers are using call to actions like this: “Look for our ad in this Sunday’s paper!” How many of you actually “rush” to do this – going through your Sunday paper seeking an ad? Strong, unique online call to actions will always work best. If you’re asking someone to call, give them a reason for why calling now is better than calling later. Countdowns and special time-limited offers help.
- Track beyond the sale. Be prepared to track the correlation between impressions and actions, coupon/rebate downloads, online visits, and social media lifts. There may be holes in the buying process that are affecting your sales, and the right analysis of data can help find those.
At the agency we often ask ourselves “what are we asking the consumer to do, and why should they do it?”
With many retail marketing and advertising campaigns the answer is clear: “Buy Now, Call Now, Click Here.“
But as we’ve stated, the consumer has changed. The new consumer doesn’t want to be told what to do, and we think you shouldn’t just tell them to do something.
Influence them in way that they feel as if it was their own idea to ‘like’ you on Facebook, call you, or buy your product. I would call it “informed motivation.”
For example, bring them to an online video that better explains the benefits that lead to a “call to action” screen. Or, drive them to customer testimonials on Facebook that feature an adjacent coupon.
And for those who would like to stick to the tried and true “Call, Click, Act!” we encourage new methods of looking at this.
My current favorite is Stella Artois. Their recent campaign integrates the old fashioned 800 number. 1-800-My-Chalice drives you to a telephone operator with a fabulous accent, and you’re given the option to opt in to “win your chalice”, or learn more about how a chalice is made, and, most important, why a chalice is not a glass. What a smart way to illustrate who they are, and to call me to action!
Have you been to an AT&T store lately? I’ve been a customer for years and they are definitely upping their game. The employees are informed, polite and extremely helpful. We’re talking follow-up phone calls and e-mails. Are they ex-Nordstrom employees or has the AT&T brass recognized the power of smiling and caring? The employees are definitely better trained than they had been in the past. And they are also remembering what their moms taught them about being nice. I think nice is spreading. Even the Department of Motor Vehicles is a far better place than back in the day. Sure, technology is moving the lines along more quickly, but the agents at the counters actually smile. What’s going on here? I like it.
Mobile is no longer being talked about as the next big thing in retail. It is the big thing. According to Google, 4 in 10 smart phone users say they have walked away from an in-store purchase based on information accessed from their phone. And that information is likely price research. (“Price check, please?” ) So if your price is competitive, you get to move your customer to the checkoutline. Next step: make the transaction impossibly simple. With the coming boom in Near Field Communication (NFC), that’s about to happen. NFC makes it easy for electronic devices (like a cash register and a smartphone) to exchange information. So now the phone can replace that piece of plastic buried in your wallet or purse. NFC penetration is still low but the I-phone 5 will likely offer it, making it the first major smartphone to use the technology. Apple goes first, you know the rest of the story.