Letter From the Editor: Retail Transformation Rules

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As we continue to evolve the definition of “local,” one key component of its market opportunity is offline brick-and-mortar shopping. After all, about 90% of all U.S. retail spending, to the tune of about $3.7 trillion, is completed offline in physical stores. And that’s usually in proximity to one’s home (thus, local).

This makes retail transformation a key focal point for Street Fight. And there’s a lot happening. Just last week, we saw Walmart launch a new concept store that will include lots of the retail technologies we’ve been examining, such as cashierless functionality. The futuristic store will also include automation, robotics, and personalization to attract shoppers.

In a slightly different category, we also saw McDonald’s take a step forward in tech-fueled customer experiences by acquiring Dynamic Yield for a whopping $300 million. This will bring more personalization and digital interaction to the drive-through experience, including suggesting menu items and recognizing repeat customers by scanning license plates.

Meanwhile, we’re seeing continued movement with in-store technologies. That’s right, beacons are back… or they never really went away. Now known as micro-location targeting, it will be a key last-mile technology for in-store shopper engagement and attribution tracking. Gimbal Head of Client Strategy Tiffany Morin wrote recently in Street Fight that the handoff from macro-targeting (traditional geofenced ads) to in-store micro-targeting will be a key one-two punch.

From Morin’s piece:

“While a lot of the initial buzz has worn off, the power of targeting micro-locations using beacons when paired with the macro-location information provided by geofence technology solves for a number of challenges marketers face today, which could be the reason behind expectations that the micro-location technology market is expected to grow at 19.4% CAGR during 2019–2024.”

Why are these moves important? It’s clear that success in retail maps to tech adoption. There’s a growing divide between the winners and losers in retail, and the former includes the Walmarts and Targets of the world who are proactively adopting new technologies to transform the retail shopping experience.

In fact, despite all of the talk about “retailpocalypse,” retail is actually thriving for those who are doing it right. That includes aggressive tech adopters like Walmart. Their business and their numbers continue to validate the practice of continually transforming the in-store experience and keeping up with shoppers’ tech usage and expectations.

“2018 has been the year of retail reinvention. 2019 is going to be the re-crowning of physical retail as king,” Perch Interactive CEO Trevor Sumner told us on a recent episode of our Heard on the Street podcast. “And it’s going to be powered by technology, better analytics, supply chain optimization … but it’s also going to be about creating wonderful engaging experiences again.”

We’ll continue to cover retail this month in Street Fight, as well as other key themes that are driving local commerce. For example, our theme of the month is “Visualizing Local,” which is all about the move towards visual content. In other words, images are increasingly a key component of local marketing, including everything from search listings to social media (think: Instagram Stories).

Stay tuned for lots more as we break down the most impactful trends and market happenings in May. Also please reach out to me directly with any ideas or opportunities about how you’d like to be part of Street Fight’s action. We have developing sponsorship opportunities, event-based activity, opportunities to contribute articles and to be a guest on our podcast Heard on the Street.

We hope to hear from you.

As Street Fight's President, Anne Marie Stephen stewards the creative vision, team leadership and strategic direction. She has extensive experience developing and implementing high-impact technology strategy with expertise in transformation and innovation.
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