Despite Amazon’s high-profile acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017, grocery is the bastion of brick-and-mortar shopping proving unusually resistant to a takeover by digital channels. At least, that is the vision of consumers, only 15% of whom say they are excited about the technical “revolution” in grocery, according to a new report on the future of retail by Walker Sands.
Street Fight is rolling into July with the monthly theme Disrupting Retail: a look at how retail continues to transform, driven by competition from Amazon and key trends like “retail-as-a-service.”
But why is this important to Street Fight (and to you)? As we continue to evolve the definition of “local,” one key component of its market opportunity is offline brick-and-mortar shopping. After all, about 90% of all U.S. retail spending, to the tune of about $3.7 trillion, is completed offline in physical stores. And that’s usually in proximity to one’s home (thus, local).
More than half of consumers are frustrated by customer-service situations in which they can only interact with automated agents, and nearly one in five even reporting feeling angry in those situations. That’s per a new survey of U.S. consumers conducted by The Harris Poll and commissioned by call tracking and analytics firm Invoca.
Headlines about retail closures suggest it’s Amazon’s world and we’re all just living in it, but there’s more to the story. For local businesses, in particular, there’s ample reason to be optimistic that the retail apocalypse doesn’t have to spell end times. In fact, exactly the opposite could be true. Let’s walk through a few of the reasons for optimism.
The increasing popularity of smart speakers, digital assistants, and podcasts means we need to begin thinking differently about voice and marketing. That includes tailoring online content to users and how they engage with it, making voice functionality a part of the sales funnel, and creating podcasts or partnering with influencers to reach audiences in a new way. With the right approach, a creative brand could get a considerable head start in this new but quickly developing marketing landscape.
AR is emerging at a time when the physical retail world is undergoing significant transformation. Things like Amazon Go stores and the counteractive “retail as a service” movement have raised awareness and hunger for retail evolution. So AR’s retail shopping use cases fall on fertile soil.
But retail is just one way that AR intersects with local commerce. AR comes into play in another key local commerce category: home services. Innovators like Streem are bringing remote assistance to traditional service calls (think: busted pipe).
Perhaps the topic we’ll remember most from this year is the rising attention to and hand wringing over privacy. In the media and advertising worlds, especially subsectors that pertain to location data, executives and consumers are feeling the broader privacy discussion acutely. We just passed the one-year mark for GDPR.
Omnichannel creates a smarter shopping experience that benefits both consumers and brands. Data is shared across all channels, enabling stronger engagement and moving the consumer toward a purchase. For the customer, it creates an easier shopping experience and a stronger brand connection.
To maintain the business of today’s consumers, consistency is key. Just under 70% of respondents said they’re less likely to return to a store after just one subpar experience. As for what earns a shopper’s approval, only 19% of consumers said they seek out food or entertainment from stores. More important are fundamental technical capabilities like mobile app integration and access to WiFi. Two thirds of shoppers even said retailers are too focused on experimental tech and should pay more attention to the building blocks of good retail strategy.
Though visual search challengers such as Snapchat and Pinterest could shine in niche use cases such as fashion items, Google will rule as the best all-around utility for visual search. It has the deepest tech stack, and the substance (knowledge graph) to be useful beyond just a flashy novelty for identifying things visually.
The name of the game now is to get users to adopt it. Google Lens won’t be a silver bullet and will shine in a few areas where Google is directing users, such as pets and flowers. But it will really shine in product search, which happens to be where monetization will eventually come into the picture.
Civil rights and privacy activists asked, and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors delivered.
The city banned the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement and other municipal agencies on Tuesday, becoming the first in the country to do so. Other bills in the works in Massachusetts and even on Capitol Hill suggest that additional restrictions on the technology may be forthcoming.
Spending on Mother’s Day is expected to reach $25 billion this year, with consumers flocking to department stores and florists in search of the perfect gifts for Mom. The bulk of that spending will happen in the next few days, as foot traffic data from the location platform GroundTruth reveals that Americans tend to wait until the very last minute to shop for Mother’s Day gifts.
What are retailers around the country doing to prepare for the onslaught of last-minute shoppers? More than ever before, retailers are leaning on visual marketing opportunities to drive last-minute sales.
As we continue to evolve the definition of “local,” one key component of its market opportunity is offline brick-and-mortar shopping. After all, about 90% of all U.S. retail spending, to the tune of about $3.7 trillion, is completed offline in physical stores. And that’s usually in proximity to one’s home (thus, local).
This makes retail transformation a key focal point for Street Fight. And there’s a lot happening.
The location market has matured beyond push. The value of micro-location technology is now built on hyper-accurate analytics on where users go in the physical world, allowing advertisers to re-target them with a variety of omnichannel marketing efforts. Here are a few exciting use cases that highlight the power of hyper-accurate location-based marketing technology.
Use cases will materialize over time, but it’s already clear that visual search can carry lots of commercial intent. Point your phone at a store or restaurant to get business details. Point your phone at a pair of shoes on the street to find out prices, reviews, and purchase info. This proximity between the searcher and the subject indicates high intent, which means higher conversions and more money for Google. Moreover, visual search has the magic combination of frequency and utility, which could make it the first scalable AR use case: making the real world clickable.
Partnerships between retailers and tech platforms will provide increasingly important benefits for local discovery as voice becomes a more established search channel. In the age of voice-driven local search, consumers looking for products and services will become accustomed to having only one option surfaced (as Assistant is unlikely to rattle off five choices), which means being a consumer’s first option will be paramount for brick-and-mortars.
5G goes far beyond just a speed boost. The quantitative advantages are joined by qualitative factors that will enable all kinds of new consumer use cases and content delivery strategies. This notably includes more precise location tracking/targeting and even some indoor use cases (think: retail). 5G-enabled phones will phase in over the next three years. Then, it’s off to the races.