The cannabis vertical is filled with dispensaries, laboratories, growers, manufacturers, and on-demand delivery services. More broadly speaking, the industry is comprised of plant-touching businesses (growers, processors, dispensaries) and ancillary businesses (delivery apps, payment processors, technology solutions). What businesses in both of these categories rely on is marketing to attract and retain customers, which helps to explain why the number of marketing automation solutions for cannabis businesses is growing so quickly.
Here are six examples of marketing automation platforms aimed at the cannabis industry.
While customer feedback is coming in from every direction, the automotive industry has done a better job of funneling reviews into vertical-specific platforms than some other industries. Large auto retailers like AutoNation are making major data stack investments, while others are working to improve their online ratings and reviews by engaging more frequently on sites like Facebook and Yelp as well as on automotive-specific platforms like Cars.com and Edmunds.
Amazon has a knack for moving into new vertical segments and then applying its logistical mastery and economies of scale to carve out margins and undercut incumbents. Then, it doubles down by scaling things up to its signature high-volume/low-margin approach. As Jeff Bezos ruthlessly admits, “Your margin is my opportunity.”
The latest place for this to unfold is retail. No, we’re not talking about Whole Foods, though that’s part it (more on that in a bit). We’re talking about Amazon’s transformation of the in-store experience — upending and streamlining logistics just like it’s done in shipping and cloud computing.
Here are some predictions for how Amazon’s disruption of retail via licensing of its Go technology will upend the industry.
Ninety percent of consumers research restaurants online before dining—more than any other business type—and the vast majority of those web searches start on Google. The search giant plays an important role in the success of restaurant marketing online, making it a desirable partner for any digital platform serving the restaurant industry.
Partnering with Google often means increased search traffic and a strengthened position within the restaurant vertical, which helps to explain the enthusiasm coming from Olo’s recent announcement that it will be working with Google to allow its restaurant partners to receive orders directly from Google Search, Maps, and Google Assistant.
One of the most exciting verticals right now is the fitness space, where the number of boutique gyms and studios is on the rise. Scheduling software has become an absolute necessity for fitness studios, giving clients a way to quickly book classes, pay for memberships, and even check in from their smartphones.
Here are six scheduling platforms serving the fitness vertical.
One area where restaurants have particularly specific needs is in promoting customer loyalty. Vertical-specific loyalty platforms for restaurants tend to have features and capabilities that more generalized loyalty platforms do not. For example, many loyalty platforms for restaurants are tied to reservation systems, so waiters know customers’ preferences before seating them at their tables.
Although the number of loyalty platforms for restaurants is growing every day, we’ve put together a list of seven important players that anyone who is interested in this space should be following.
We often refer to the many facets of local advertising, media, and commerce as simply ‘local.’ But it’s a bit of a misnomer because the local commerce universe is really made up of several galaxies.
That includes various products that help local businesses, both SMBs and multi-location brands, acquire and keep customers. It’s everything from SEO to listings management to point-of-sale systems. Beyond product function, there’s also vertical segmentation, which encompasses diverse industries from pizza shops to plumbers.
This will be Street Fight’s editorial focus for the month of October. You may have realized we’ve been assigning themes to each month — September being about mapping, August about the connected car, and so on. These are all tentpole issues in local media, advertising, and commerce.
Over the past few years, a number of national retailers have added mapping technology into their mobile apps. Even more retailers have given store associates handheld devices with integrated indoor location features, putting the answers to frequently asked questions—like where products are located and how to get to certain store departments—at their fingertips.
Even though location and mapping technology is embedded into many consumer-facing shopping apps, and it’s used by retailers to fuel both their marketing initiatives and back-end operations, publicly explained use cases from retail brands are rare. Here are five examples of how retailers are applying the technology and using mapping to fundamentally change the in-store shopping experience.
Blumenthal: Google Maps is/has become the primary discovery tool in many categories. That is a significant shift of which agencies and owners need to be aware.
Mihm: Yep. I’m not sure I would even have had our ThriveHive data science team look for this data point specifically had you not tipped me off. But sure enough, across our dataset of nearly 20,000 GMB Profiles, we found that Maps impressions outweigh Search impressions by nearly 3:1 (72% to 28% over the last 18 months).
Gimbal COO and CMO Matthew Russo says that at scale, indoor location technology is advanced enough that it works incredibly well. Russo says that at Gimbal, he has worked with major brand clients who are able to understand when a VIP walks into their lobby. They also know if the customer has waited too long at a check-in line, and they’re able to present customers with special offers or keyless check-ins at their rooms.
“But if you’re a pizzeria owner with a single storefront looking to send a push notification to people walking by, you probably won’t see the results you’re hoping for,” Russo says.
Could those scaling issues be holding back the indoor navigation industry, and if so, what’s the solution?
Enter Phase Three. As my column’s title suggests, I would argue that the old concept of citation building has largely lost its relevance, and that thinking of the local network as a system of channels — parallel, somewhat independent sources of consumer traffic — is a more appropriate paradigm for where we are now.
In all, there are approximately 10 independent sites and site categories that together make up the primary channels where any business should be well represented in order to be competitive.
Walmart, Walgreens, and Sephora are all using artificial intelligence technology to improve the retail experience. While the majority of use cases for AI in retail have focused on enhancing the shopping experience for customers, forward-thinking analytics firms are innovating and developing new uses for their existing AI technology.
The analytics firm Fractal Analytics is pushing forward in the retail space with its own solution that relies on AI to forecast the cost of retail store remodels, as well as determine the ROI from large-scale renovation projects. Although Fractal works solely with Fortune 500 companies, the solutions it is developing could be adopted more broadly throughout the retail space.
As Google and Apple lead the way, we are getting closer to ubiquitous visual mapping. If that happens, there will be significant implications for entities that currently use search and mapping for marketing or online presence. They’ll need to make sure they are optimized in this new format.
This could lead to an extension of SEO to cultivate presence in visual experiences. Just like in search, correct business location and details will need to be optimized to show up in the right places. You don’t want the AR overlay for your restaurant floating above the salon next door.
For years, marketers have used Google Trends to uncover insights based on search data. Now, executives at the advertising and marketing automation platform Gimbal are hoping their newest product will serve the same purpose for the physical world.
Built on top of an independent location data set, Gimbal Trends has been designed to provide marketers with a comprehensive view of consumer behavior in the real world. The product was released this morning, and already Gimbal is seeing interest from companies in the entertainment industry that are interested in leveraging the data to optimize their decision-making processes about upcoming events.
More than half of shoppers (57%) have used a retailer’s mobile app while in-store. In order for their apps to provide the greatest amount of value, retailers need to tap in to location features, including indoor mapping. When Street Fight first wrote about indoor mapping tools back in 2013, the technology was still relatively young. Now, the market has had time to mature and retailers looking at integrating indoor mapping technology into their mobile apps have an even wider array of vendors to choose from.
Here are seven companies with indoor mapping solutions for retailers.
Of all of the technologies and consumer touchpoints to local commerce, mapping is perhaps the most relevant. This centuries-old technology has gone into hyperdrive over the past 15 years since the launch of Google Maps, and it continues to be a primary tool for local search and discovery.
But what’s the state of the art and how is it evolving? This will be Street Fight’s focus in the month of September. This follows last month’s connected car theme and past months’ reporting and commnetary on privacy, retail transformation and the “beyond the screen” evolution of voice and visual search.
Traditionally, a lot of discussion around location tech as it relates to auto is for marketing and media applications for the dealerships and automakers themselves, where the goal is to sell more cars. That helps the OEM and the dealers, but it leaves an enormous opportunity on the table. We also need to be customer-centric, which means providing an experience that decommoditizes ownership and makes the journey itself a little more interesting. That’s how to keep the miles-traveled metric high, even when fewer cars are being sold.
Applying user data in this fashion requires adherence to a code of data privacy and ethics — starting with a clear and obvious value exchange to the end user (the driver). An owner of a vehicle should clearly understand the benefit in having location data collected. Location data can improve the driver’s experience in three ways.
New cars are incredibly expensive, and most people don’t feel comfortable picking a vehicle based exclusively on two-dimensional images and whatever data they can pull up on the Kelley Blue Book website. Consumers don’t want to go into dealerships, either, so they end up delaying their purchases for as long as possible.
RelayCars thinks it has a solution.
The company has put together a program that uses augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to help consumers research new cars and trucks. Getting a realistic view of a vehicle from their own homes helps users narrow down their selections and decreases the time shoppers need to spend test driving multiple cars.
As the industry continues to evolve, Geopath’s Kym Frank predicts that two-way communication between cars and advertisers will become even more commonplace and OOH strategies that involve connected vehicle data will be the norm among major brand advertisers.
“The car itself can communicate with digital displays to trigger optimal creative, and the billboard can communicate with the dash to trigger in-app ads,” Frank says. “We are at the very beginning of seeing what is possible and measuring those impacts.”
Automotive OEMs have bulk data plans with cellular carriers primarily for collecting vehicle diagnostic data (e.g. mileage, engine warnings, etc.). As a result, it is now possible to capture data from millions of vehicles. This presents an opportunity to capture exponentially larger audio data sample sizes, especially for AM/FM radio, which will fundamentally change audience measurement, ad attribution, and program insights. While data today is primarily audio listening, the introduction of autonomous vehicles will result in significant consumption of video that can be measured in a similar way to audio.