#SFSNYC: How Brands Without Brick-and-Mortar Stores Can Market Locally
As developments in location technology and data grab attention and funding, recent hyperlocal technology coverage has centered on the way brick-and-mortar stores can harness digital innovation to remain competitive against the likes of Amazon. But brick-and-mortar stores are not the only companies that stand to gain from local strategies: brands without their own physical stores and business-facing enterprises, too, must go local to reach their market potential.
At Street Fight Summit on Wednesday, Street Fight contributor Nancy Ayala took the stage alongside Ajay Kapoor, vice president of transformation and strategy at SharkNinja, and Shobhit Kapoor, global director of marketing at Harman, to delve into local marketing strategies for online brands.
The customer journey as someone buys a tech product has “transformed radically in the last 5 years,” Shobhit said, noting that fewer people now walk into brick-and-mortar stores without having done research beforehand and expect a sales representative to detail their options. However, some aspects of marketing products to consumers have not changed. For example, consumers still have a significant brand bias. The difference, Shobhit said, is that today’s consumers come in with biases shaped by customer reviews and bloggers. As a result, the task for today’s marketers is “connecting the dots from consideration to the actual purchase” so that the online-to-offline customer journey is seamless.
The digital element of consumerism has led consumers to expect “not only higher value but also higher convenience” from businesses, Ajay said. It’s incumbent upon brands to leverage digital to deliver that convenience.
Fortunately, many retailers have “woken up” to these trends, Shobhit said. He highlighted Best Buy as a retailer that has leveraged email to get people to go to brick-and-mortar stores and to tie the in-person shopping experience to the online experience.
As for Harman, which was recently acquired by Samsung and presents itself as a designer and engineer of “connected products and solutions for automakers, consumers, and enterprises worldwide,” the company employs a “blended retail strategy,” investing in its brick-and-mortar partners while “closing the loop by providing consumers the information they need to buy in-store,” Shobhit said.
Global companies must keep local contexts in mind when planning blended retail strategies, as consumers in certain parts of the world are less bullish than others about online-first experiences, Shobhit said, noting that consumers in Asian markets are still very intent on walking into a store and getting a feel for products, while U.S. customers might be less tied to that prospect.
Ajay’s SharkNinja sells cleaning and kitchen appliances, and he said planning an effective marketing strategy “really comes down to the consumer journey.” To support an effective online-offline journey, SharkNinja focuses on integrating online marketing campaigns with physical-store displays.
Extra data coming from evolving technologies will help brands better understand how to court consumers through digital means in coming years, Ajay said. He pointed to the connected home in particular as a future source of useful consumer data that could drive offline sales.
Joseph Zappa is Street Fight’s news editor.