Yes, we still shop at local stores, but the Walmart in the nearby shopping plaza isn’t the only competitor the local store needs to keep an eye on. Increasingly, it’s a host of online vendors and the growing crop of on-demand startups that have become an indelible feature of the local business landscape — both enablers and usurpers of their merchant partners.
With 2015 drawing to a close, it’s time again to look ahead to what we can expect in the hyperlocal space in 2016. This year, we did things a little differently. We invited our regular analyst contributors to 1) weigh in on what they felt would be a “sure thing” in the coming year, 2) offer a prediction on something that might get big (but might not happen), and 3) identify something that hyperlocal marketers and merchants really don’t need to worry about. This is the first of several predictions pieces we will feature this week.
The local technology space saw plenty of M&A activity in 2015 and remains poised for another busy year in 2016. Rampant expansion of certain areas such as on-demand services and delivery apps makes further consolidation likely. The startup scene saw its share of healthy — if not billion-dollar — exits as well. Here’s a recap of the five of the biggest exits in the local tech industry in 2015.
Local digital marketing firm ReachLocal has been engaged in a lengthy turnaround effort. It announced last week that it was exiting direct sales in the U.K. and focusing on markets with “potential for positive, sustainable economics.” The announcement indicates ReachLocal is still focused on cutting things that aren’t working rather than regaining growth momentum.
During the holiday season, we focus so much attention on when people buy, how much they spend, and whether it got there on time that we tend to overlook what happens once gifts are purchased. An equal test for retailers — both online and brick-and-click — will be making returns as easy as the purchase itself.
Marketers face a number of big challenges today. One is pinpointing their audiences as they move from device to device — and then from platform to platform on those different devices. Another is making sense all of the data consumers generate in the scores of micro-interactions they have every day across the devices and platforms they use. A third is online-to-offline attribution. The partnership with IRI that PlaceIQ announced today is a step toward tackling these hurdles.
The worlds of on-demand and deep-linking took another step closer when ride-sharing giant Uber announced a new mechanism for app developers to incorporate a button for users to request an Uber driver. Expect to see more of this kind of app integration among on-demand services, giving the market leaders greater scale and distribution.
Cyber Monday was one for the record books. U.S. shoppers spent nearly $3 billion through digital channels, making it the single largest online sales day in history, according to Adobe, and continuing a string of firsts this holiday season. Mobile continued to display strong momentum from the holiday weekend in driving website traffic and sales.
If U.S. consumers proved reluctant to spend their Thanksgiving holiday in stores, they demonstrated few qualms about shopping online. Digital commerce was up significantly from 2014 levels. The momentum continued into Black Friday, which also saw brick-and-mortar spending reach its highest totals since 2012. The biggest winner over the holiday weekend was mobile: Its share of website traffic and online sales reached record highs.
Retail activity this holiday season promises to be more omnichannel than ever, courtesy of the ever-present smartphone. That raises the stakes for retailers in terms of their preparedness and complicates their attribution metrics. With online-to-offline shopping dynamics in focus, this may be the long-awaited breakout year for beacon technology.
Today marks the beginning of a crucial week and month for retailers, as shoppers clamor for deals and steals on presents for family, friends, and coworkers. Whether in-store, online, or a mobile device, an astounding amount of retail business will be transacted in the next five weeks. RetailMeNot vice president of communications Brian Hoyt said to expect a more personalized, more omnichannel holiday shopping season this year, courtesy of the ever-present smartphone.
Square made its debut on the public markets yesterday. After its much-commented-on offering price of $9 per share, which some took as a shot across the bow for unicorn startups, the Jack Dorsey-helmed payments firm surged more than 45 percent in its first day of trading. The pressure may be off Square momentarily, but it won’t stay that way for long.
The saying used to be that “all politics is local.” A more appropriate term for the 2016 election cycle might be “all politics is data.” In fact, with their emphasis on audience and local targeting and their growing adoption of programmatic buying, political campaigns have begun to increasingly resemble marketing campaigns.
The busiest retail season of the year is upon us, and it’s shaping up to be a good one. An upcoming free Street Fight Insights webinar, presented in conjunction with Brandify and featuring immr founder Dr. Phil Hendrix, can help local business owners and their marketing and technology partners get ready for the tide of online and foot traffic. Don’t miss out on key insights that can help make your holiday season a success.
Implementing technology in retail environments as means of “saving” brick-and-mortar stores has been a consistent theme in recent years. But consumers have sent a clear message that the connected store can’t be about technology for technology’s sake. Smartphones’ increasingly central role in the shopping process, from research to purchase, makes them the logical link between connected shoppers and connected stores.
xAd’s fourth annual Mobile Path to Purchase study indicates the customer journey is more smartphone-dependent than ever, even for big-ticket, high-consideration purchases like cars. “Location is much more than a targeting tactic; it’s a powerful indicator of consumers’ intent and immediacy of needs,” said xAd senior director of global research Sarah Ohle.
Consumers are spending more time on their mobile devices than ever, a shift that is affecting both traditional and digital businesses. Recent earnings reports from Yelp, Angie’s List, and Groupon indicate that some of these publicly traded local mainstays are handling the transition better than others, particularly the rising challenge to effectively combine content, commerce, and services.