Retail strategy implies long-term initiatives that shape the company’s vision in a significant way. Volatility makes planning anything but easy. For example, the novel Coronavirus threw a wrench into the works, turning our lifestyles upside down. Brick-and-mortar retail, in particular, struggled in the face of social distancing and the severe restrictions state regulators placed on in-store shopping. It seemed like the pressure on this category was unrelenting. However, a Forbes report shows that brick-and-mortar has demonstrated exceptional resistance, reflecting some significant changes in consumer behavior post Covid-19:
- Despite a flood of chain store closures, brick-and-mortar is still the predominant player after weathering a concerted digital attempt to overwhelm it.
- Undoubtedly, e-commerce, energized by digital marketing strategy, has gained ground since 2011. According to the Commerce Bureau, it’s gone from 9.6% of total retail sales (excluding restaurants, motor vehicles, and gasoline) to currently around 22.7%.
The power struggle will continue, but brick-and-mortar store owners who understand consumer behavior and strategy fundamentals will prevail. The three pillars outlined below provide a solid foundation for results:
Pillar #1 – Know your touchpoints inside out
There are many stages in the customer journey all throughout the path to purchase. Retailers and brands need to have an understanding of how consumers move through the funnel and how to guide them smoothly. Successful customer journeys depend on marketers appreciating that:
- Any touchpoint disruption can stall or collapse the entire customer experience.
- Conversely, positive touchpoints can trigger a move to the next one.
Dispel the disruptors, maximize the motivators – that’s the single-minded approach every business strategist must follow to meet customer expectations in retail. Nothing generates customer turnover more than a bad customer experience. On the other side of the coin, customer retention is the natural result of delivering engaging, emotional, and cognitive gratification. Your retail brand must communicate meaningful points of difference that resonate with the audience – a critical foundation stone of every retail strategy. Believable, compelling marketing may lead the consumer to your store, but it’s only half the job.
Pillar #2 – The undeniable smartphone trend.
Many predicted that the smartphone would negatively affect traditional in-store shopping. However, it did unexpectedly impact the industry, creating a groundbreaking shift in strategic thinking. After facing the challenges of mobile marketing from end-to-end, sources estimate that:
- A little shy of 50% of all consumers use mobile devices to access in-app discounts – mainly when in-store.
- A sizable number (40%+) use their mobile devices to check up on product information.
- One-third use their phones to monitor competitive prices when in-store. Even so, when disadvantageous searches arise, there’s no conclusive evidence of them leaving to shop elsewhere. Many stores are ready to match proven lower competitor prices when presented with the facts.
Smartphones are a fundamental driver of brick-and-mortar foot traffic. While the theory that mobile shopping would kill malls, strip centers, and chains, retailers should instead see the trend as a valued friend, not an enemy. It’s more than impressive how the massive benefits of multichannel marketing can be used to brand and retailers’ advantage.
Pillar #3 – Proximity marketing
Consumers coming in-store to look or buy is a stage that’s realistically close to making the cash register ring. However, that’s where your strategic plan must kick into high gear with effective mobile marketing strategies (amongst other options). Believe it or not, your careful thinking can miss big time if it fails to account for in-store behavior. Proximity marketing is at the cutting edge of the brand marketing strategy.
82% of shoppers in your store will arrive at their purchasing decisions (yes, no, what brand to select) while on the premises. Some retailers believe that store associates are the only persuaders necessary to close the deal. Without degrading the latter’s value, tech proximity marketing is heavily in the mix today and likely for the rest of the 2020s. Indeed, it’s the hottest trend in retail. Ignore it, and you’re in danger of derailing the customer journey after doing all the heavy lifting to get it this far. Here are some useful suggestions:
- Leverage the mobile customer experience for all it’s worth, using location technology to message shoppers with real-time, relevant messaging. It lies at the core of omnichannel marketing.
- Connect potential customers passing or entering the store with complementary discounts, review reminders, and pivotal brand promotions currently on the shelf. The average click-through rate of proximity marketing messages is close to 80%.
- Combine mobile with engaging storefronts, good signage, impulse checkouts, in-store displays – anything that engagingly connects to shoppers’ emotions and thoughts.
A final thought – Get professional guidance in your corner
Shopkick is an omnichannel solution that allows brands and retailers to engage and influence shoppers throughout the entire path to purchase in-store and online. Our client case studies demonstrate how effective proximity marketing successfully creates in-store awareness, engagement, and purchase consideration. To learn more about how Shopkick can help you drive incremental store visits and sales, contact our team.