Big changes are coming to local marketing, but whether multi-location brands are positioned to capitalize on these changes is still in doubt. That’s according to a new report on the future of local released by SweetIQ that delves into the most effective strategies for brick-and-mortar businesses and illuminates how those businesses are interacting with consumers.
A follow-up to SweetIQ’s 2017 report, this year’s Future of Local report focuses heavily on the role that local data plays in multi-location marketing and the influence of technology on the marketing mix. This is the second year in a row that the importance of local data has been a central theme in SweetIQ’s analysis.
“I wish I could say I am surprised that we’re still hammering on data, but here we are and it’s still either not a priority or just too overwhelming to dive into,” said Liz McConomy, director of marketing at SweetIQ.
Due in large part to how “oblivious” businesses have been to omnichannel strategies, along with what SweetIQ considers the “neglect” of local presence management, many multi-location firms are in a state of crisis. Whereas in previous years the goal for businesses was simply to be “found” online, multi-location brands now have to contend with “being chosen” in an incredibly crowded omnichannel space.
“The key trend that we should all be looking at is the influence of technology on what we include in our media mix — how we channel our messages depending on the medium and what we test and try out before committing to it,” McConomy said.
The report highlights the importance of pairing demand forecast models and agile supply chains with local data to prevent product shortages, citing T.J. Maxx as a retailer that has been able to modify its business model to accommodate the fast flow of merchandise and create a sense of urgency among consumers.
Although local marketing can mean different things to different brands, McConomy said the foundation will always involve being listed everywhere and appropriately managing a business’ reputation.
“Once you’re doing both of those, you should be taking the data to determine whether your customers want to see you at a pop-up next to the local music festival, or if they’d appreciate a notification that [their] desired item is back in stock when they’re in range of your location,” she said.
Dynamic pricing is another trend that pops up in SweetIQ’s report. The concept allows retailers to change prices based on fluctuating demand throughout the day or week, or based on weather patterns and other local data. According to the report, consumers are finally beginning to accept fluctuations in price, making now a smart time for retailers to invest in “smart shelves” and other related technologies.
Retailers that implement dynamic pricing can expect to see sales increases between 2% and 5%, and increases in margins that range from 5% to 10%, according to SweetIQ’s report.
As a whole, this year’s report paints the picture of a challenging market for multi-location brands, in part because there is so much work to be done for marketing teams managing dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of locations. McConomy has seen that the brands struggling the most are the ones that did not make decisions to implement digital strategies from the beginning.
“…A lot of what is being done today rests on the shoulders of data collected from smart ecommerce sites, well-tagged SEM campaigns, SEO strategies that drove to deeper pages within a site to silo customers even further into the funnel,” she said.
While there’s no simple fix for getting back on course, McConomy believes that brands would be smart to just get started—somewhere, anywhere, to get the ball rolling.
“You need a better e-comm site? Start building it. You need better attribution? Start modeling,” she said. “And they don’t need to do it alone. This could sound like a shameless plug, but there are providers that can help build those sites, those models, and a local marketing foundation that lets you know that updating every location at once is a click of the button away.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.