As print advertising continues to wane, the impact that traditional newspaper circulars are having on retail sales during the holiday season is decreasing, as well. According to a recent study by hyperlocal vendors Placed and Retale, 77% of mobile users who’ve used paper circulars in the past 30 days say they plan to begin using digital circulars, and only 23% say they’d prefer sticking with print versions. Retailers who fail to jump onboard the digital circular bandwagon risk losing out on sales, as consumers spend more time browsing for deals on their mobile devices.
Of course, making the migration from print to digital circulars is easier said than done, and many retailers are still left with questions over how best to take advantage of hyperlocal technology in this arena. Here are five strategies for how retailers can leverage digital circulars to their full advantage, during the upcoming holiday season and beyond.
1. Make a big content push. “Businesses should publish as much content [within digital circulars] as they have available. This helps increase overall presence and ultimately exposure to users. Ideally, a business should have something online and available all the time. Businesses should look inside their organization to find content assets. Once they try it, they’ll be surprised how well it works.” (Christian Gaiser, Retale)
2. Take advantage of cross-merchandizing. “Retailers should make sure that products are cross-merchandised, meaning if they show a product in a circular, the product should be available online, in-store, or in catalogue, if they have one. This is a mistake we see retailers making often and also something we’re heard from retailers that they are looking to correct as a part of their omni-channel strategies.” (Lee Senderov, Shopular)
3. Leverage an API. “Mobile circulars and galleries offer a tremendous opportunity to be creative and maximize mobile’s unique data. By forgoing the standard set of five to eight static product images, and instead, plugging content into an API stream, marketers are able to serve rich, dynamic content in near real-time. An API enables marketers to change their featured products based on a consumer’s location, the weather, product surplus, or other targeting factors. For example, a large chain retailer can showcase shovels to New Englanders in a snowstorm just as easily as they can feature beach towels to Floridians. Similarly, they can seamlessly change up the circular lineup to reflect sales and product surplus.” (Sarah Jennings, Millennial Media)
4. Use multiple channels. “The first mistake merchants make is thinking that using only the circular on a retailer’s own website will be effective. It needs to be spread across all potential channels where consumers can potentially discover a digital circular, such as aggregators, mobile, social, and search. Think of it as a destination medium, which is loved by many consumers. According to a study we conducted in October with Placed, 74% of mobile users had looked at a retail circular in the previous 30 days. That’s certainly a sign of the circulars staying power.” (Christian Gaiser, Retale)
5. Measure performance by in-store visits. “Measuring the performance of a digital circular only by e-commerce returns is a mistake. The circular is by nature mostly a drive-to-store tool, that’s what the focus should be and that is what it has traditionally done so effectively.” (Christian Gaiser, Retale)
Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.