The so-called “buy and return loop” that stores faced during the height of the pandemic is back, and it’s a major burden for fashion retailers across the country. According to Britt Mills, senior director of customer experience at the digital consultancy Mobiquity, more shoppers are being forced to skip the dressing room due to in-store safety protocols, and since they can’t try on items, that leads to a higher likelihood of returns.
With machine learning and AI, retailers have been able to navigate the continued imbalance between supply and demand. This is especially true for digital-first retailers and on-demand businesses. The number of online grocery shoppers increased by 35 million during the pandemic. That opened the door to new opportunities, but it also opened the door to certain logistical challenges that grocers never experienced previously. For example, online grocery shoppers expect the items in their mobile apps to be in-stock and available for delivery immediately, which is different from a shopper who casually browses store aisles to see what’s available at a brick-and-mortar location.
When we return to shopping in physical stores, will that look different? It’s hard to imagine there will be as much much merchandise handling as before. Will it be a “touchless” environment? And if so, which technologies will power the touchless future?
Let’s dive into a few candidates.
Earnings results that rolled out from retail giants over the past week further demonstrate what our next normal will look like. Specifically, Walmart and Target both hit record numbers. This is partly a function of Covid-era circumstances, but it is also due to each retailer’s active e-commerce momentum.
The earnings validate consumer acclimation to digitally infused local shopping. What’s more, other retailers and down-market businesses will look to replicate this success. This can all therefore be viewed as a leading indicator for retail’s next normal.
For many of the small businesses that have stayed afloat so far, e-commerce has become the new focus. A quarter of brick-and-mortar retail businesses surveyed in June said they’ve already added an e-commerce channel to their operations this year. Retail SMBs either want a piece of the growing pie that is e-commerce sales in 2020, or they’ve realized they won’t survive without an online sales component.
Whatever the motivation, the uptick in e-commerce sales has set the stage for SMBs to start boosting their revenue. And to complement the current market conditions, the rise of no-code tools is making online retail success more accessible than ever to SMBs. These solutions are proving to be the surfboard that helps small businesses successfully ride that e-commerce wave.
What about the tech adoption accelerants happening on the supply side? Tech giants who provide marketing and operational tools for local businesses have been in hyperdrive over the past few months to roll out new Covid-era features.
Here are three areas where we’re seeing the most activity … and where we could correspondingly see the most local business evolution.
Recent announcements from Snap and Apple at their respective developer conferences point to future connections between AR and local commerce.
Snap’s Local Lenses will let developers create geo-anchored persistent content that Snap users can discover through the camera interface. This will also include the ability for users to leave persistent AR graphics for friends to discover. The use case that Snap has promoted is more about fun and whimsy, including “painting” the world with digital and expressive graffiti. But the development could also include local storefront information.
Moving on to Apple, it similarly continues to show its AR aspirations. The latest is GeoAnchors for ARkit, announced at WWDC. These evoke AR’s location-based potential by letting users plant and discover spatially anchored graphics that are persistent across sessions and users.
It has been an especially hard few months for small businesses, many of which will never reopen or will take months – if not years – to recover financially from the shutdowns and reduced patron numbers.
Despite the challenges, there are very real opportunities for sustained growth during this time. To survive and thrive during this next period, local businesses must deepen their customer relationships despite having fewer resources available. While it may sound like a conundrum, this actually presents a significant opportunity to deliver a personalized customer experience and drive loyalty.
Location is a prime indicator of our interests, purchase habits, and daily behaviors. Where we go defines who we are, and in the Covid-19 world, location continues to tell that story, even if the story has changed for many of us as we practice social distancing.
Marketers continue to command vast data sets for campaign targeting. Here are six data sets, powered by location behaviors, that marketers can use to build awareness, generate leads, and drive sales.
Last month, we shared the results of a study of consumer behavior in the first phase of the pandemic. The study based its findings on analysis of Google My Business Insights data for multi-location brands whose online presence is managed by Brandify, covering some 16 different business categories.
Today, we’re updating that study with data from the month of May — data that demonstrates clear evidence that consumers are returning to stores and other places of business that were hard hit by the shutdown. Our findings show, however, that recovery for suffering businesses may take quite a long time. And by contrast, some businesses for whom the pandemic resulted in a boom in activity are still showing remarkably high consumer traffic.
Brands are also facing unprecedented demand for online orders. For example, retailers within Radial’s network witnessed a 70% increase in orders in April 2020 compared to their order volumes in April 2019. As shopping habits continue evolving in the wake of Covid-19, omnichannel options will be imperative for business continuity.
Retailers are finding that developing an omnichannel experience for shoppers is no longer a modern, unique competitive strategy. It’s now a requirement for any retailer looking to power through what the unforeseeable future has in store. Here are four essential Covid-19-era strategies.
Retailers have dozens of ways to go when implementing contactless payments in brick-and-mortar stores. The best option usually depends on the retailer’s size and budget. Smaller businesses tend to rely more on app-based contactless payments and mobile solutions as a way to minimize the costs associated with integrating an entirely new point-of-sale system.
Here are six mobile payment and contactless payment options that retailers can use to help curb the spread of coronavirus inside their stores.
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.
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.
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.
Companies investing in existing user engagement are smart to do so. According to mobile monetization and marketing company ironSource, the average global cost to acquire a single paid install from an individual user in 2020 is $2.24 — which adds up quickly when you start to scale into thousands or hundreds of thousands of users.
So, while it’s important to keep spending on acquisition, retention and retargeting, informed by smart audience segmentation, are perhaps even more essential to ensuring app marketers are monetizing all of their users.
In this episode of Location Weekly, the Location-Based Marketing Association hosts Vanjo Wandscher, Group CEO, ROQQIO Commerce Solutions.
The team also covers Westfield’s Mall of the Netherlands using LEDs and AR to drive social distancing, MapinHood ensuring social distancing on sidewalks, and PayPal facilitating QR code contactless payment.
Voice technology has been on the verge of going mainstream for nearly a decade. Despite big players like Amazon and Google launching their own smart speakers, and millions of consumers using the devices in their homes, investors in the voice technology space have been patiently waiting for the spark that would set off a new touchless world.
That spark is Covid-19.
Industry-wide curbside pickup has surged 208%, but statistics alone do not tell the complete story. Although large retailers were quick to pivot to a pickup-only strategy, small and mid-size retailers were largely boxed out. That’s because the ordering technology used by many large retailers comes with a price tag that small retailers cannot afford, and implementing the most sophisticated programs requires a level of technological sophistication that SMBs don’t usually have.
Rakuten Ready believes it has the answer to this problem.