Covid-19 Accelerates Online-Offline Retail Convergence

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the offline-to-online convergence in retail, leading to a huge shift in the way people shop over a short period of time. Shelter-in-place orders have forced shoppers to purchase the majority of their goods online, and it’s made retailers rethink the way they’ll operate in the post-pandemic world.

Big0-box retailers have beefed up their ecommerce divisions, and we’ve seen dozens of major chains with new curbside pickup options. Some types of retail environments have done better than others. Hardware stores, like Home Depot and Lowe’s, have found themselves categorized as “essential” businesses, and they’ve been able to remain open in many areas with little adaptation necessary. The transition has been harder for retailers in high-touch categories, like clothing, and for those independent operators that didn’t have websites with ecommerce capabilities in place before the pandemic began.

What Comes Next For Businesses After Covid-19 Shutdowns?

As states around the country begin to reopen their economies, local businesses are looking anywhere they can for guidance. County health departments are issuing advisories about proper social distancing and sanitation practices, but what about the technology upgrades businesses might need when they reopen after their pandemic shutdowns? How might business contend with changes in optimal inventory levels if shoppers continue to buy in bulk?

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As States Reopen, Conversion Patterns Point to Early Programmatic Recovery

The data that Goodway Group uncovered suggests that some marketers have begun to increase spend and re-enter the programmatic marketplace. Additionally, when looking at the regional level, the Goodway Group’s Benjamin Diesbach and his team are seeing that CPMs in many of the hardest-hit states have bottomed out, and they are starting to move closer to previous levels.

The impact on certain states reopening is still being felt, and while medium-to-longer-term dynamics remain volatile, Diesbach is seeing early short-term signs of programmatic marketplace recovery.

6 Live Streaming Platforms for Gyms and Fitness Studios

The fitness industry has changed overnight as Covid-19 forces gyms across the country to close their doors. While gym owners wait for the go-ahead to reopen their businesses to the public, many are moving their classes online as a way to generate revenue during the pandemic.

Local fitness studios seem to be having the most success utilizing online platforms designed specifically for their needs. Technology companies offering fitness management software and live streaming tools have stepped up to the plate with tailored offerings for fitness studios and gyms, and some are even finding ways to work together with Zoom, YouTube Live, and other popular video services.

Here are six options that are worth checking out.

AARP Launches Platform Empowering Neighbors to Assist Each Other during Pandemic

Built by the team at AARP Innovation Labs over the course of just a few weeks, the Community Connections mutual aid aggregation platform gives volunteers and people in need a place to connect. It features a searchable directory of local mutual aid organizations, which are typically informal groups that provide key daily services, such as picking up groceries and delivering medications to people who are at high risk for contracting Covid-19. People can access the platform to find volunteer groups nearby, with links to those groups’ websites and locator maps.

What Search Behavior During Covid-19 Means for Healthcare Marketers

The headlines are everywhere. Open any newspaper, and you’ll see story after story about coronavirus and its impact on American society. But new data on consumer search behavior shows Covid-19 isn’t the only healthcare topic on people’s minds right now.

In an analysis of consumer search trends during the coronavirus pandemic, a team from the healthcare provider scheduling and search platform Kyruus found that search terms seemingly unrelated to Covid-19, such as “diabetes,” “cancer,” and “depression,” continue to rank more highly than those associated with the virus.

As Agencies Feel the Squeeze, Covid-19 Reshapes the Martech Industry

One in four small businesses has temporarily shut down, and 43% believe they have fewer than six months until permanent closure is unavoidable. With the small business community in panic mode, budgets for digital marketing have been slashed, and agencies are feeling the pinch.

“Everyone has been in panic mode, and rightly so. Businesses are worried about who might have to be furloughed [or] laid off, getting their PPP loans, what kind of regulations do they need to comply with, [and] what their contingency plans are for keeping any amount of revenue coming in,” says Simon Schwartz, founder of Locasaur. “Businesses are not interested in being pitched new marketing tech.”

5 Retail Tech Solutions Keeping Shoppers Safe During Covid-19

Beacons, sensors, security cameras, and touchless payment solutions are all being used in ways they haven’t been before. Technology vendors are even changing up their offerings, or in some cases pivoting altogether, to better serve the retail market during this ongoing pandemic.

Here are five examples of technology providers offering innovative solutions for enhanced social distancing and improved shopper safety during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Curbside Pickup Moves Into Primetime, But Retailers Struggle With Implementation

Petsmart and Kohl’s have it. So do Best Buy, GameStop, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and dozens of other national retailers. With social distancing orders in place across most of the country, curbside pickup is becoming an increasingly popular checkout option for retailers. Integrating curbside technology into existing ecommerce fulfillment programs hasn’t been without its challenges, though, especially given how hastily many of these programs have been rolled out.

Covid-19 Is Changing Ad Auctions, Creating New Opportunities for Brands

Amidst all the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, savvy marketers are finding new opportunities to reach consumers at discounted rates. According to data compiled by Goodway Group, competition within ad auctions has gone down 13% since early March, and win rates are up 54% during the same time period.

The drop in competition within ad auctions is largely the result of brands pulling back on digital advertising during the outbreak. Most experts agree that dropping out entirely is a mistake, since it gives competitors an opportunity to convert new brand loyalists, but continuing to run existing campaigns without acknowledging the current economic and global health realities can be costly as well.

Email Marketers See Increase in Engagement During Covid-19 Crisis

In the middle of a global health crisis, email marketers are experiencing a renaissance.

According to new data from LiveIntent, email newsletter engagement has grown during the coronavirus pandemic. Newsletters in the health and fitness and “hard news” categories, including those focused on law, government, and politics, have seen a sudden increase in engagement and click-through rates on ads.

Businesses Find Opportunities to Fundraise, Connect Through Local Platforms

Consumers say they want to help the local businesses in their communities, and many are buying gift cards and launching GoFundMe campaigns to help their favorite restaurants, retailers, and brewpubs avoid going out of business. But restaurants and other essential businesses that remain open still need a way to let customers know how they’re selling their products and services, and how they can place orders without showing up in person.

The neighborhood social networking app Nextdoor is one of a number of platforms working on ways to ease that burden. Yelp, Facebook, and Patch are joining the fight.

5 Curbside Pickup Solutions for Retailers to Use During Covid-19

Curbside pickup isn’t just a win from a public health perspective; it also gives stores an additional lifeline as they look for ways to sell products without violating physical distancing guidelines. What’s more, the trend may stick, bringing additional retailers into the process and boosting customer adoption even after social distancing subsides.

These are five technology companies offering platforms and tools that retailers can use to implement curbside pickup during the Covid-19 crisis.

Local Businesses Lean Heavily on Digital Tools During Covid-19

Digital platforms like Facebook, Google, Instagram, Yelp, and Twitter have never been more important for local businesses. With 80% of customers saying they are scaling down their restaurant visits now, restaurants are in uncharted territory. Local businesses in every industry are being forced to adapt their marketing strategies on the fly and use digital channels like Google and Yelp to keep people updated on their status.

Restaurants that were previously hesitant to use delivery services are now jumping on the bandwagon, and apps like DoorDash, Instacart, and UberEats are seeing a surge in businesses using their platforms. Smaller restaurants, retailers, and other local businesses are also beginning to accept more orders through messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Larger organizations are managing an influx of customer service calls using chatbots on these same platforms.

This Startup Is Helping Local Stores ID Customers During COVID-19

Chatbots are helping resolve customer service issues when businesses are closed and call centers are slammed, but brick-and-mortar stores are still struggling to adapt to an online-only business format. Pure play ecommerce outlets have spent years developing systems to manage transactions and verify customer identities, but most retailers on Main Street are accustomed to seeing shoppers in person and visually checking IDs.

A San Francisco-based startup called Persona is offering to help those local businesses adapt by giving away its online ID verification service for free during the COVID-19 crisis.

7 Delivery Apps Keeping Restaurants, Grocers Afloat During COVID-19

Dozens of states have banned dine-in service at restaurants, and nearly as many are requiring retailers to close up shop in a bid to slow down the coronavirus outbreak. As local businesses deal with the enormous financial implications that come with closing down to customers, many are trying out delivery services for the very first time.

For restaurants and other local businesses interested in offering their products via on-demand delivery, here are seven delivery platforms with which local businesses can partner during the Covid-19 crisis.

Brands Struggle to Keep Up When Promotions Explode in Popularity

When the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich was released last summer, the effect on sales was almost immediate. Customers filled Popeyes locations and waited in long lines to get a taste of the buzzy new sandwich. A Twitter feud between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A caused those lines to grow even longer, and the viral frenzy ended up draining the supply of “little chickens” to the point where a nationwide shortage ensued.

For GSD&M, the agency that handles Popeyes’ social media, the rollout was initially seen as a huge success. From a logistical perspective, though, it quickly turned into a nightmare as Popeyes struggled to keep up with demand.

These Chatbots Are Helping Brands Respond to Covid-19 Queries

Chatbots could help fill the gap in business-to-customer communication capacity during the Covid-19 outbreak. Although there will always be a need for human customer service agents, even when chatbots with AI are deployed, the coronavirus outbreak is demonstrating just how valuable this automated technology can be for brands working in a time of crisis. Already, chatbot companies like LivePerson say they’re seeing significant increases in volume on their platforms. As the pandemic widens, even more companies are likely to start integrating chatbots into their customer service systems.

Here are six chatbot solutions that brands can start using right away.

Freckle, AdSquare Team Up on Privacy-Compliant Geo-Contextual Advertising

For years, geo-contextual advertising focused on targeting consumers for specific products or services at specific locations. The strategy has delivered impressive results for many brands and agencies. But with privacy restrictions on the rise, the time has come to start reimagining geo-contextual advertising in a way that brings brands together with on-the-go consumers in a privacy-safe way.

While many vendors are looking at how to expand into privacy-safe geo-targeting, Freckle and AdSquare are getting out ahead of the pack. Just this morning, Freckle and AdSquare announced a collaborative effort to improve geo-targeting capabilities for brands and agencies across North America. Through the collaboration, Freckle will layer its privacy-safe visitation data into AdSquare’s platform.

Review Generation and Management Platforms for Healthcare

In healthcare marketing, it all comes down to the patients. Adding patient reviews to a healthcare organization’s website can improve its ranking in the Google algorithm, particularly when those reviews are filled with relevant keywords. Just as importantly, though, patient reviews have a positive impact on the way other people view medical websites. Practice websites with user-generated content, including reviews, score higher in reliability, expertise, and professionalism.

Here are six examples of review generation and management platforms aimed squarely at healthcare organizations.