How Advancing Location Tech Can Help Revitalize Retail

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Digital is not the enemy of brick-and-mortar businesses. That was a key message in a Street Fight webinar Thursday, which featured inMarket and the Integer Group.

Despite fears of the disruption that new business models and technology bring, these are can be opportunities for brands to better understand and engage with consumers, said Cameron Peebles, CMO for inMarket. He shared his company’s insights during the webinar alongside The Integer Group’s group media director, M.K. Woltz. InMarket and The Integer Group are leaders in the online-to-offline segment, and Woltz and Peebles discussed effective brand strategies for digital-to-physical conversions.

For example, inMarket recently launched a “lapsed-shopper reactivation” program, which targets consumers who at one point frequented specific stores but then got out of their regular shopping patterns.

During the talk, Peebles outlined a strategy for planning, deploying, optimizing and calculating ROI for mobile campaign in retail sales. An essential part of that planning means seeing digital as an asset rather than as the enemy. In years past, Peebles said, it was predicted that digital would kill off the entire music industry. The changes digital brought to the music world cannot be denied — consumers can now access media through mobile devices almost anywhere. But rather than digital portending doom for all music, streaming revenue increased by 8.1 percent in 2016, he said: “This is from the likes of Spotify and other groups applying digital strategies to a legacy industry — causing a resurgence that is expected to grow into the future.”

He noted that a comparable prediction was made about movies as high quality video made its way to personal devices. Again, the expectation was that the public would stop going out and stay home instead to consume all their media. But instead of being the final curtain on theaters, Peebles said online purchases of movie tickets actually helped increase box office sales by 4.3 percent in 2016.

Another prediction about digital casts companies such as Amazon as devourers of the retail landscape, taking more and more market share. It is hard to dismiss the growing reach that e-tailers wield, however that does not necessarily spell doom for all stores. “The secret to surviving in a digital-first world is embracing digital strategies rather than fighting them,” Peebles said.

This is true, he said for brick-and-mortar retail or any vertical where people make purchases in the real world. A significant part of turning digital into an asset is mapping to the customer acquisition funnel. Peebles said many people equate mobile advertising with broad programmatic buys that spray-and-pray dollars to increase brand awareness or the campaign depends on users looking at their devices while in a target area at a certain time.

Those notions overlook what a more comprehensive approach that mobile and digital offer, he said, that better matches each part of the funnel. “The fact that it has the ability to influence both, increase awareness and drive purchase intent, is the power of mobile,” Peebles said.

It is not just about figuring out where to connect with consumers. Woltz said The Integer Group uses data and cultural insights to help brands understand their customers and potentially accelerate the pace of transactions for purchases. The Integer Group works with clients such as Starbucks, retail stores, and brands such as Kellogg’s, Procter & Gamble, Mars, and Wrigley. “Mobile is part of almost every plan we are doing,” Woltz said. “We look at mobile as a way to get brands in consideration before consumers go into stores.”

That can include driving awareness about the brands or offers that are available at that moment, she said.

As trends in digital continue to spread and evolve, plenty of location data providers may offer their services — but finding the right fit for a brand’s needs will take some investigation. Peebles said companies who are choosing such a vendor should weigh carefully whether or not they offer first-party, verified GPS, wifi, and beacon data; have trusted sources of inventory that consumers rely on; as well as have the scale to reach multiple types of consumers. “If you are working with a data partner, they should be very transparent about their data sources and their data strategy,” he said.

Joao-Pierre Ruth is a Street Fight contributor.

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