Big-Box Stores Will Win the Reopening, but Mask Expectations Are High

New consumer insights uncovered by Resonate are painting a picture for what to expect as lockdown restrictions start to lift. According to our latest wave of consumer sentiment research, shopping behaviors are already starting to shift dramatically. But that doesn’t mean consumers are fully ready to resume their previous daily lives, particularly when it comes to venturing into stores.  

Restaurants Are Using Technology to Bring Back Customers Post-Pandemic

How do local restaurants implement coronavirus-driven changes, and what role will technology play in helping those businesses reemerge from lockdown status?

Statewide regulations, like sanitizing protocols and spacing between tables, are in many ways easier for restaurants to implement because they are clear-cut. Certain diner expectations are harder for restaurants to gauge, and that has presented a new opportunity for technology providers catering to the restaurant market.

Can a Pandemic Inflect Local Commerce Tech?

Could forced adoption of alternative shopping methods like curbside pickup lead to user acclimation? Will millions of shoppers get exposed to the merits of these streamlined options and like what they see? Will new habits be born that sustain throughout normal times?

If so, these technologies — along with virtual-office enablement — could benefit from this period as a blessing in disguise for exposing their value propositions. But who stands to benefit most? We’ve identified five local commerce tech areas to which this could apply.

Ridesharing Inches Forward as Industry Looks for New Path

Years of rising demand for ridesharing services came to a full stop this spring, as coronavirus spread and communities across the globe were put under lockdown. Now, as ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft begin inching their way forward toward a new normal, they’re looking at how to adapt to the completely new environment in which they find themselves.

The Impact of Covid-19 on Local Search for Healthcare

On March 20, the Google My Business team announced they would disable reviews and Q&A (since restored) in order to conserve human and machine bandwidth for critical updates. New listing creation and verification was also temporarily disabled. Google made these moves, in large part, in order to ensure that listings in critical categories, especially healthcare, would remain up to date.

The Google My Business product team also rushed to create new features in response to the crisis, such as a “temporarily closed” flag in the GMB dashboard and prominent attributes showcasing the availability of services like pickup and delivery. Healthcare was a primary focus in this phase of new feature development, which is still ongoing.

Street Fight’s June Theme: Retail Recovery

As the country starts to re-open and recover (some places more quickly than others), we’ll shift our focus to cover specifically how that’s happening. And what better vertical to represent local business recovery than retail? It will be a leading indicator for several other local commerce verticals.

So we introduce our June editorial theme: Retail Recovery. The goal: to chronicle the steps local businesses are taking to reemerge from locked doors and empty streets. Who’s doing what, and what can we learn from them? By “them” we mean businesses and the tech providers that support them.

Location Data Companies Rise to the Challenge of Covid-19

The location data market has responded to many external pressures in recent years. Guided by new privacy regulations such as GDPR and CCPA as well as operating system updates by Apple and Android, the industry has put the consumer back at the center. The old days of capturing data and selling to ad tech firms without permission are over.

These shifts are good news for society. But they are also good news for the location industry, which has pivoted to thrive in this new world where squeezed supply impacts the quality of location data.

Now, Covid-19 has presented a new challenge, with movement data restricted to unprecedented levels. So, how are location data companies responding to the crisis?

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.

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.

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.

Covid-19 Tracking: Privacy Risks and Lessons for Digital Advertising

The surveillance systems now being rolled out for the pandemic are unlikely to have a direct impact on local marketers. However, the debates that they have precipitated should remind us all of the importance of customer trust when it comes to data collection. 

In short, advertisers who rely on consumer data should ensure that they are only collecting what they need, that they store and process this securely, and that they are open and transparent with their customers about collection. Many of those same best practices apply to governments collecting data to fight Covid-19.

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.

Posting and Advertising during Quarantine: 50 Small Business Social Tips for 50 Industries

While there may be a downturn in customer spending during the Covid-19 crisis, there is an increase in customer touch points and attention. With Facebook usage up 50%, it is more important than ever for small businesses to turn to social media to maintain relevance and build relationships in their local communities.

Here are 50 social tips for 50 industries, complete with some real-world examples of best-practices for SMBs to keep their communities engaged, even in a crisis.

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.

The State of Reputation Management 2020

Not long before the COVID-19 outbreak was officially deemed a pandemic — it seems like years ago, but it was only March 11 — we planned to commemorate Street Fight’s March theme, Word of Mouth, by surveying a select number of experts in local marketing about the state of reputation management and what to look forward to in 2020. 

Current events got in the way of our plans, and therefore we’re releasing this report in April rather than March. But we were pleased that the experts we asked came through and offered a great deal of valuable insight on the priorities and challenges of reputation management for local businesses. So let’s dig in to the insights provided by local marketing leaders at ThriveHive, Reputation.com, Chatmeter, Brandify, GatherUp, Uberall, and BrightLocal.

Location Weekly: Uber Eats Moves into Grocery, Foursquare Merges with Factual

In this episode of Location Weekly, the Location-Based Marketing Association covers Uber Eats moving into grocery delivery, Foursquare merging with Factual, Filipino super app SIF expanding services during Covid-19, and the OutStreets app pivoting to monitor store shelf levels during crisis. Gimbal’s CMO/COO Matt Russo joins for the first installment of the LBMA series “Members at Home.”

No Time to Think Small: Innovate on SMB Reputation Management

A small business’ reputation is the company’s most valuable intangible asset. During this current climate, we are seeing successful brands adapting quickly to their customers’ change in lifestyle and priorities. They’re catering for their isolation with services that make their lives not only easier but also more entertaining. By remaining engaged and keeping conversations fluid, small businesses will be able to weather the storm as well as keep and attract new customers.

A trustworthy and actionable understanding of local communities is now more important than ever.

Here are a few ways small businesses can build and sustain a healthy reputation.