Despite the somewhat complicated outlook, there are things retailers can do to change their fate. NMI found that 43% of consumers plan to avoid shopping with retailers that don’t offer contactless payments. Retailers that quickly adapt and add contactless payment options, and then market those changes aggressively over the coming days, still have an opportunity to win back customers who would otherwise be staying home.
Allbirds and Fabletics aren’t the first DTC brands to open up for in-store shopping, of course. Brands like Warby Parker and Bonobos pioneered the approach years ago. But the latest class of trendy DTC brands is doing things a little differently. Rather than focusing on urban centers, like New York and Los Angeles, DTC brands are using local data to target new, smaller locations in states like Arizona, Florida, and Texas.
Grocery stores are doing more business than pre-pandemic, with average weekly household grocery bills surging from $120 to $161 at the height of statewide lockdowns this spring. Many restaurants are pivoting right now to promote their takeout and delivery options. Health and wellness websites are fielding questions about coronavirus, as are many news publishers.
Leaning into the changes means understanding and responding to the challenges consumers are facing right now and setting up a search strategy that focuses on providing the best experiences possible.
Two-thirds of American adults say they plan to shop at more small businesses in the coming months, providing independent retailers with the perfect opportunity to turn those new customers into brand advocates.
Putting the strategy into action means capitalizing on what ActiveCampaign CEO Jason VandeBoom sees as the biggest untapped opportunity for local retailers right now — the post-sale engagement.
In addition to selecting three small businesses to receive a holiday marketing overhaul — pairing each up with local designers to modernize their brand marketing materials — Adobe Spark and Square are helping businesses digitize their shops to process transactions in a touch-free environment, utilizing mobile technology and QR codes. The firms have also announced a plan to give five small businesses a $10,000 media buy credit and a subscription to Adobe Spark Premium.
While other firms in the retail infrastructure and logistics space are struggling, Whitebox is closing on a Series B funding round of $18 million. CEO Marcus Startzel says timing has played a key role in his company’s success. Whitebox was focused on solving e-commerce challenges for brands before the pandemic began, but the opportunities to work with major brands to improve and automate the e-commerce process have only grown over the past few months.
Limited-time offers and one-day sales are a mainstay of the holiday shopping season. But this year is unlike any other, and retailers are taking a different approach.
With Covid-19 restrictions limiting the number of customers who can be inside a store at any given time, retailers are looking at extending the shopping season to accommodate socially distant crowds.
The pandemic has sparked changes in consumer behavior. Some changes are predictable, like people stocking up on toilet paper when lockdown orders first went into effect.
But other changes occurring over the past seven months have been more slight and easier to miss. Now, with the holiday shopping season getting into full swing, brands are discovering that these minor shifts in consumer behavior have the potential to wreak havoc on their seasonal marketing strategies.
As one of the largest spenders on digital advertising in the U.S., the automotive industry is a bellwether. Prior to the pandemic, the automotive industry had consistent double-digit growth in digital ad spending. That growth was forecast to continue through the end of 2020 — then, in March, everything changed.
All eyes are focused on the presidential election today, but for businesses, a ballot initiative in California could have major implications. Proposition 24, known as the California Privacy Rights Act of 2020 (CPRA), is seen by many as an even more stringent version of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). That has some businesses rethinking how they collect user data and questioning whether they might be vulnerable to lawsuits if the proposition passes.
Google’s World is shorthand for the fully fleshed-out concept: “It’s Google’s world… we’re all just living in it.” The main thrust is that Google’s search dominance gives it enormous control in impacting the fate of businesses everywhere who rely on search for traffic and customer acquisition.
Google’s ongoing updates to the search algorithm, ranking factors, and SERPs continue to have ripple effects on marketers everywhere. It’s becoming more challenging to follow the moving target of SEO effectiveness. This game has its own set of rules when it comes to local search.
Snap continues to make moves in local commerce. Historic steps include geo-filters, while more recent activity includes Local Lenses and business listings in Snap Map. These features are notable on their own, but they get more interesting when you view them together and extrapolate to Snap’s local road map.
For example, Snap has more 13-34-year-olds active than any other channel, including Facebook and Instagram. This essentially means Snap can offer SMBs incremental and non-duplicated reach to an attractive audience.
While this holiday season will be unlike any other, retailers have reason to be optimistic. Holiday sales are set to rise 1% to 1.5%, with e-commerce growing as much as 35%. Consumers are expected to spend between $1.147 trillion and $1.152 trillion between November and January. Much of that spending will happen with large retail chains that have omni-channel experiences already set up, and that has smaller retailers rushing to put their own mobile strategies in place.
With hygiene and customer safety now a top priority, more retailers are beginning to use AR to simulate the try-on experience. Whether they’re “trying on” items at home or in-store, AR tools are giving retailers a way to assist customers in their buying decisions as they virtually test out thousands of products using their mobile devices.
Here are five examples of how innovative retailers are taking full advantage of AR in the Covid era.
Dubbed Marsbot for Airpods, Foursquare’s virtual assistant will whisper insights to users about their surroundings, unprompted, as they move throughout the world. This may be a recommendation for a local coffee shop or a fun fact about a landmark.
For brick-and-mortar businesses and the technology providers that help them connect with customers, the marketing possibilities are tantalizing.
Google continues to double down on visual search and navigation. Its latest move came last week with updates to its Live View visual navigation to help users identify and qualify local businesses. This follows soon after its Earth Cloud Anchors that will let users create digital content on physical places.
Both developments tell us something about what may well be the future of local search: augmented reality-enhanced visuals.
Prior to Covid-19, traditional demographics still directed many brands’ targeting strategies. However, the pandemic has laid bare just how flawed this method can be. We believe that the best measure of what someone will purchase in the future is looking at what they’ve purchased in the past. This holds true even in an uncertain market and is invaluable for retailers as the holidays approach.
The lines in the traditional funnel have blurred. Consumers may enter and pursue a non-linear route before making a purchase or moving on. The path from awareness to decision is no longer predictable in an omni-channel environment. A progression that works for one type of consumer may have no relevance for another. These changes necessite another look at attribution models.
When marketers are all using the same platforms and automation tools to bid and compete against each other this holiday season (like with Facebook Automated App Ads and Google App Campaigns), the key differentiator will be ad creative. Preparing an arsenal of high-performing creative will be critical to advertisers in order to keep costs down and be effective this year.
As the pandemic continues, consumers are shifting their expectations of brands as well. They don’t just want coupons in their email anymore, they expect an intuitive browsing and checkout process, accurate inventory and out-of-stock notifications, curbside delivery, and fast shipping.
E-commerce is already a must-have, and small businesses who understand this and take steps to offer their customers a way to buy online will create a memorable experience, more long-term loyalty, and ultimately more sales this holiday season.