Can Local Commerce and Tech Work From Home?

I’ve worked from a home office since 2002. Forced into it — and initially opposed due to unfamiliarity — I didn’t like the isolation. But after acclimating, I became more productive, happier, and healthier than in any previous office job. Now, 18 years later, I may never go back.

One question is if that same realization will sink into corporate ranks now forced to #WFH. Could adjusting to working from home be a silver lining for some industries? In being forced to try new ways of doing business, could we discover habits that work better than older conventions? How might this principle play out in local businesses?

Street Fight’s May Theme: Local Commerce’s Recovery Playbook

In our own reporting and analysis (and through the words of our contributors) this month, we’ll define the playbook for local re-entry. As business ramps back up, what will best practices be for local staples such as search marketing and reputation management?

We’ve already covered how businesses are digitizing to adapt to the challenges of commerce in a time of social distancing, embracing curbside pickup, social advertising, pop-up distribution centers, online classes, and retail tech. With an even longer-term view, we’ll examine how this period of uncertainty will shape the future of local commerce.

Beyond Store Visits: Better Objectives for Current Times

A more adaptive framework that allows campaigns to still operate with the hyper-locality of a Store Visits Objective campaign, but without the specific objective requirements, is timely and ideal for maintaining strategic flexibility. This framework can actually be replicated with other objectives, such as Conversions, Lead Generation, Video Views, or even Website Traffic, especially with specialized tools.

Developing campaigns across other objectives that utilize local pages and localized copy still provides the same local performance benefits as an SVO campaign, as well as the attribution models to ensure you can still prove ROAS. 

Amid Coronavirus, Are the Fraudsters Also Staying Home?

To date, the app industry has said little about the effects of coronavirus on fraud. With self-isolation enforced globally, and workers now adapting to the new world of working from home, we investigated whether the rate of ad fraud (and by proxy, the output of fraudsters) had been disrupted. Or are fraudsters themselves in the line of fire as they continue to operate both above the law and in close proximity with each other?

Rely on Empathy to Stop Second-Guessing Your Covid-19 Marketing Strategy

We have to recognize that — just like us — our customers are in a heightened state of stress and sensitivity. They’re likely to remember brands that get their messaging very wrong or very right during this historic period, and no one wants to be among the former. But we also have to remember that empathy in the face of daunting challenges is a proven business strategy — brands that deliver humanized experiences are twice as likely to outperform their competitor’s revenue growth.

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.

With Stimulus Funds Delayed, Small Businesses Digitize for Survival

Experts at helping SMBs adapt to a tech-first commercial landscape say the pandemic has led some businesses to tap into their long-dormant potential as digital marketers and sellers, possibly setting them up for gains in the aftermath of the recession. Now that e-commerce is the only path to survival, mom-and-pop shops, aided by martech firms, agencies, and Silicon Valley giants, are capitalizing on cutting-edge marketing and retail techniques, many for the first time.

Thousands, if not millions, of Main Street businesses will close their doors for good as a result of the pandemic. Those that survive will be technologically savvier and sleeker than they were before.

Pop-Up Distribution Centers Overcome Last-Mile Delivery Challenges during Covid-19

Ecommerce has suddenly become the primary sales channel as a result of Covid-19, and retailers are having to find creative solutions to meet consumer demand for both essential and non-essential goods. With Amazon announcing delays in shipments of non-essential goods in the US and limits on the quantity of goods retailers can ship, the task of getting products to end users becomes even more difficult.

Supply chain issues also resulting from Covid-19 complicate things further, but merchants are still tasked with fulfilling orders on time. This means looking into non-traditional fulfillment methods that can provide flexible and cost-effective solutions to the issue at hand. For retailers struggling to find ways to cope with over-forecasted demand, below are some viable options.

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.

How to Move Your Classes or Programs Online – Tips for Small Businesses

A week before it ran several online classes, Practical Martial Arts didn’t have a video strategy or an online conferencing platform, and the couple was terrified about what the stay-at-home order meant for their beloved business, their customers, and their employees. But in a couple days they were able to pivot. And you can, too.

If you’re looking to offer online versions of your in-person business or are simply looking to connect online while we ride this out, below are some tips and resources to help you go virtual, too.

How Agencies and Advertisers Can Target Relevant Audiences During Covid-19

Since establishments have limited services to take-out, pick-up or delivery, advertisers are creating geofences where they know consumers are still going. Rather than using the actual footprint of a restaurant, advertisers can use custom polygons to include the pick-up area in the parking lot or the QSR’s drive-through area.

Getting creative to find restaurant audiences is just the tip of the iceberg, however. Even when large portions of the population are staying home, there are ways to find and advertise to audiences that are high-intent in a range of consumer categories. There are several commercial and public locations that you can target to help find audiences that are relevant to your clients and your campaigns. Below I detail optimal strategies for major categories of brick-and-mortar physical businesses.

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.

In Times of Crisis, There’s Still Value in the Gig Economy

The pandemic-driven economic shutdown is also affecting the estimated 57 million Americans who make their living, or supplement their income, as members of the gig economy. While some freelancers and side hustlers may feel secure, full-time gig economy drivers certainly do not. Covid-19 has numerous implications for the gig economy, including some that will last even after all the dust settles. Let’s sort through them.

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.

Navigating Social Media Marketing in a Global Crisis

What is the role of brands in facilitating this connection? A recent report shows that 91% of people believe in social media’s power to connect people, and 78% of consumers want brands to use social media to help people connect with each other. Those numbers send a clear message to companies as they navigate a crisis that is so much bigger than their brands: create connection through relevance. 

But the question is how brands can achieve relevance right now. How can you create meaningful connections on social media during a global crisis? Here are a few tips.

Location Weekly: Google and Apple’s Covid-19 Mobile Tracking

In this episode of Location Weekly, the Location-Based Marketing Association hosts Rob Woodbridge and Hidetoshi Uchiyama, CEO of Unerry. Asif Khan and Aubriana Lopez also discuss Google and Apple building a Covid-19 tracking system into their OS platforms and PlaceIQ acquiring Freckle IoT. They also touch on the ethics of price gouging by home delivery services during the coronavirus crisis.

Ad Tech Execs Weigh in on Coronavirus Ads, Google and Twitter, and Misinformation

I turned to a number of ad tech execs for their expert perspectives on the risks and rewards of digital advertising on this extraordinarily high-stakes issue. While expectedly optimistic about the benefits of coronavirus-related messaging for savvy brands, the business leaders diverged on the responsibility and capability of Google and Twitter to monitor the veracity of the content they host. They also made distinct cases for advertising at a time when brand messaging requires extra sensitivity, arguing that both brands and their customers have something to gain if businesses provide accurate information, focus on customers’ needs, and showcase the ways they are adapting in a time of crisis.

Why and How to Take Steps Toward Brand Assurance

Companies are adapting at breakneck speed. For example, Dick’s Sporting Goods is offering curbside pickup to protect its customers and staff. DoorDash is discounting delivery services to help working parents. Walgreens is making it easier to get critical prescriptions. Measures such as these have been essential in instilling a sense of community, care, and trust.

We must not attempt to carry on business as usual. We can no longer think about marketing and advertising in the same ‘brand vs. demand’ framework. Now is the time for brand assurance — to actively fulfill brand promises, to help customers, and to maintain brand reputation. 

Can Emerging Tech Support Local’s New Normal?

I’ve been looking for discoveries that could be blessings in disguise. Just like remote work, these aren’t new concepts but ones that are now given the chance to shine. For example, I spend lots of time analyzing virtual reality, which could be a valuable virtual event tool.

But more to Street Fight’s main focus, what discoveries or business approaches could benefit local commerce? One of them could in fact be VR’s cousin, augmented reality. Its ability to help people visualize things or facilitate “see what I see” co-presence could help local service pros socially distance.