The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the offline-to-online convergence in retail, leading to a huge shift in the way people shop over a short period of time. Shelter-in-place orders have forced shoppers to purchase the majority of their goods online, and it’s made retailers rethink the way they’ll operate in the post-pandemic world.
Big0-box retailers have beefed up their ecommerce divisions, and we’ve seen dozens of major chains with new curbside pickup options. Some types of retail environments have done better than others. Hardware stores, like Home Depot and Lowe’s, have found themselves categorized as “essential” businesses, and they’ve been able to remain open in many areas with little adaptation necessary. The transition has been harder for retailers in high-touch categories, like clothing, and for those independent operators that didn’t have websites with ecommerce capabilities in place before the pandemic began.
As states around the country begin to reopen their economies, local businesses are looking anywhere they can for guidance. County health departments are issuing advisories about proper social distancing and sanitation practices, but what about the technology upgrades businesses might need when they reopen after their pandemic shutdowns? How might business contend with changes in optimal inventory levels if shoppers continue to buy in bulk?
The phrase “by any means necessary” is fast becoming retail’s new mantra. The same industry that is typically viewed as cautious and conservative is moving really quickly. More quickly than I have seen in my 35 years in the industry. And where is the industry moving most quickly? Toward something we now call “contactless commerce.”
Shoppers around the world are afraid. They’re guarded, and they are wary of any contact with any strangers. They don’t want you to come near them. In response, retailers in every category are absolutely scrambling to remove human contact from the shopping journey.
According to Gartner, in 2020 100 million customers will shop in augmented reality, both online and in-store. With these numbers in mind, it’s about time to jump on the AR bandwagon and start reaping the benefits of stellar customer engagement, improved conversion rates, and wider reach.
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.”
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.
Curbside pickup isn’t just a win from a public health perspective; it also gives stores an additional lifeline as they look for ways to sell products without violating physical distancing guidelines. What’s more, the trend may stick, bringing additional retailers into the process and boosting customer adoption even after social distancing subsides.
These are five technology companies offering platforms and tools that retailers can use to implement curbside pickup during the Covid-19 crisis.
Delighting customers isn’t about getting one thing right; it’s about firing on all cylinders, both online and in brick-and-mortar stores, to make an authentic connection with buyers to drive satisfaction and loyalty.
What does that look and feel like? Here are 10 examples of best practices that represent the state of the art in retail CX.
Retailers scored best on average on listings, suggesting that management is succeeding at getting multi-location stores to optimize the fundamentals of their online presence. The poorest average category score, rankings, indicates brands are failing to pop up when consumers search for unbranded items. At a time when consumers are increasingly searching for items “near me” instead of brand-name stores where they could find those items, businesses stand to gain if they invest in non-brand-specific keywords.
An unfamiliar sight has emerged among the familiar photos of family gatherings posted to social media this holiday season: people wearing next-generation virtual reality devices. Between the turkey and pie courses, grandma strapped on a headset and jumped into a futuristic reality.
Thanks to rapidly evolving technology, lower prices, and the support of 5G networks, this uncommon sight may soon become a common experience. While just 11% of Americans reported owning VR technology in 2018, VR hardware and software sales are expected to skyrocket 587% to $5.5 billion by 2023, up from an estimated $800 million last year.
The move from tethered to standalone VR stands to change the way users connect with every aspect of the world — including e-commerce.
Over the last year, we saw many well-known brands close their doors and scale back their offline footprints. While many believed this to be a sign of weakness, it was, in fact, a sign of a very effective corporate strategy.
Retailers such as Macy’s and Walmart both faced multiple closures in 2019, but when digging deeper and analyzing specific store locations, we uncover a much more informative narrative than simple brick-and-mortar decline.
One particular area that’s difficult to navigate for multi-location companies is how to best serve highly targeted marketing campaigns to local customers across hundreds or thousands of very unique communities where your retail locations exist. Across the many multi-location brands at which I’ve worked, including national retailer Batteries Plus Bulbs, it’s an issue with which our internal marketing teams and outside ad agencies struggled.
In this article, I’ll identify four main marketing challenges I believe all multi-location retail marketers can relate to and how to use technology to solve them.
BOPIS — buy online, pick up in store — has become a fixture among cutting-edge retailers over the past several years. But this holiday season has made 2019 the breakthrough year for BOPIS. There’s rising demand among consumers for this handy shopping option. And retailers, seeing how the tactic benefits them as well, are stepping up to meet that demand.
As the omnichannel approach to retail takes off, industry insiders are beginning to wonder whether giving shoppers what they want, when they want it, across any connected device, is causing consumers to develop unrealistic expectations about the types of experiences and services their favorite stores can provide.
Among the survey’s most surprising findings is how quickly shoppers are willing to abandon their favorite retailers when those stores don’t have the items they want. Aptos found that 47% of shoppers will start looking elsewhere if their favorite retailer runs out of an item they’re looking for during the so-called Golden Quarter. Additionally, Aptos found that more than half of consumers (60%) say they will abandon their baskets if they find their items for cheaper elsewhere.
Figuring out how best to fit Amazon into your holiday marketing strategies can be tricky, especially when it comes to balancing the investment between physical locations and the online experience. Some retailers are doing this well and thriving without Amazon (think Glossier, shoe companies Rothy’s and Koio, as well as any number of DTC brands), but many more rely heavily on the site to augment both digital and real-world strategies. So if you’re looking to leverage Amazon to your advantage this holiday season, here are a few tips and best practices for retail success.
Data from ShopperTrak showed a 3% decline in traffic at physical stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday even though sales were up overall. That’s because retailers with strong online shopping programs saw significant gains, with a reported $9.2 billion spent on Cyber Monday alone.
In an analysis of holiday shopping campaigns, the people-based marketing platform LiveIntent found that brands had a “robust” performance on Black Friday weekend. Total conversions during Black Friday weekend stood at 36% higher than that typical time period. Retailers that pushed mobile shopping saw the greatest gains, as LiveIntent’s analysis found that mobile drove the most traffic.
For Brandify’s local search consumer survey, consumers were asked to name the tools they’ve used in the last 30 days to find information about businesses nearby. Though a vast majority of 77% named Google Maps over any other tool, there was a significant “second tier” group including Facebook at 38%, Yelp at 35%, and business websites at 32%.
The study also asked consumers about the frequency of searches, the range of businesses for which they searched, preferred devices, and the likelihood of visiting a business after searching.