Online Customer Service is the New Storefront

The face of retail is fundamentally different today than it was last January. Fewer shoppers entering brick-and-mortar stores and interacting with sales associates in person means retailers have had to rethink how they handle customer service. Retailers are now looking at ways to equip service teams to fill that new void.

Contactless Pay Is the Next Big Pivot in Retail CX

Remember when Amazon launched Prime? The entire retail customer experience (CX) changed overnight — for everyone. The bookseller-turned-everything-seller suddenly offered low prices and fast and free delivery, leading traditional retailers to pivot drastically to keep up with their mega-competitor.  

But sometimes, unexpected CX overhauls are a good thing — especially when competitors have to pivot, too.  

5 Predictions for Mobile in 2021

Emerging mobile commerce data shows retail’s future hinges on our phones. While our industry was well aware of this trend before the pandemic, the acceleration stats are striking.

Discounts Drove Black Friday Foot Traffic

To see how clothing retailers fared, we took a look at foot traffic to the top 10 in the U.S. We did a straight comparison on foot traffic between Black Friday weekend last year and this year (11/28/19 – 12/2/19 and 11/26/20 – 11/30/20). 

Across all 10 retailers, store visits dropped an average of 42%. Who fared best? Who took the biggest hit? We queried our proprietary geofencing marketing database. Here’s what we found.

Six Last-Minute Tips for Holiday Marketers

The holidays are here, and along with them, a holiday shopping season like no other. With the entire retail sector transformed by the Covid-19 pandemic, e-commerce has taken center stage, and digital marketers are working feverishly to find new ways to reach customers and bring former brick-and-mortar shoppers into the digital fold.

Yet we know that there’s still a lot of work to be done, and the holidays aren’t offering much downtime to digital teams. That’s why we hosted a discussion featuring experts sharing eleventh-hour tips and tricks that marketers can use to drive revenue this holiday season.

Retail Embraces Omnichannel for the Holidays

Rather than focusing on one platform or tool, retail brands are embracing everything necessary to engage with customers across multiple touchpoints. That could have a major impact on the way shoppers interact with their favorite brands in the coming weeks, and depending on the results, it could lead to changes in the way retail marketing is handled in 2021.

How Local Retailers Can Reach Mission Shoppers this Holiday Season

The mission shopper is focused on getting in and out of stores as quickly as possible. They spend less time, and less money, in stores, and their mindset is different from the lighthearted holiday shoppers of yesteryear—or even last year.

Understanding this consumer archetype will prove critical to retail success this holiday season.

Will 2020 Be the Year to End Black Friday?

Black Friday this year will probably look a lot like it would’ve been in about a decade; we’ve just accelerated the online shift. 2020 will be the year that Black Friday and Cyber Monday stop being shopping ‘days.’ They’ll be turned completely upside down for years to come as retailers embrace a holiday shopping season of deals, strategized and targeted based on insights from online data. 

Retailers Embrace Mobile As Pandemic Holiday Shopping Ramps Up

While this holiday season will be unlike any other, retailers have reason to be optimistic. Holiday sales are set to rise 1% to 1.5%, with e-commerce growing as much as 35%. Consumers are expected to spend between $1.147 trillion and $1.152 trillion between November and January. Much of that spending will happen with large retail chains that have omni-channel experiences already set up, and that has smaller retailers rushing to put their own mobile strategies in place.

How 5 Retailers Are Using AR for Covid-Compliant Try-Ons

With hygiene and customer safety now a top priority, more retailers are beginning to use AR to simulate the try-on experience. Whether they’re “trying on” items at home or in-store, AR tools are giving retailers a way to assist customers in their buying decisions as they virtually test out thousands of products using their mobile devices.

Here are five examples of how innovative retailers are taking full advantage of AR in the Covid era.

How Brands Can Rise, Retain, and Return Stronger Than Ever this Holiday Season

Prior to Covid-19, traditional demographics still directed many brands’ targeting strategies. However, the pandemic has laid bare just how flawed this method can be. We believe that the best measure of what someone will purchase in the future is looking at what they’ve purchased in the past. This holds true even in an uncertain market and is invaluable for retailers as the holidays approach. 

Here’s Why October Is the Perfect Time to Pressure-Test Holiday Strategies

With consumers still spending – and their evolving shopping preferences and behaviors becoming increasingly clear for Halloween and beyond – October presents a prime opportunity for retailers to pressure-test and refine their holiday 2020 strategies. 

Here are three considerations as we enter one of the most critical quarters in retail’s history.

Forever-Changed Buying Patterns Mean Rethinking Customer Loyalty

Online ordering and curbside pick-up became an essential service for everyone from major retailers like Home Depot and Target to restaurants and small specialty shops. Bookstores began delivering orders without a delivery fee. Even car dealerships have had to rethink their entire sales model, with many moving the full customer experience online. 

While these business transitions were driven by the pandemic, the new consumer buying trends — and the business measures put in place to adapt to them — will likely become a permanent fixture even as the economy enters a recovery phase. 

Rebuilding Retail with Customer-First Experiences Online and In-Store

There’s so much discussion around returning to the old normal, but retail’s future depends on getting as far as way from normal as it can. Retailers need to seize the opportunity and reimagine the experiences they provide—and create the next normal. 

What would this look like? As a guiding principle, retailers should be finding ways to put the customer first in the experiences we provide. 

Consumers’ Number-One Holiday Shopping Incentive

Don’t think about the price tag. Think about how you’re going to deliver the merchandise.

That is what is on consumers’ minds as they think about upcoming holiday shopping, according to a survey of 17,000 US consumers by shopping rewards app company Shopkick. Last year, consumers’ number-one incentive was low prices. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, 54% said their number-one priority is free shipping.

Retail Prepares for a Covid-Inflected Holiday Season

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the shift from brick-and-mortar commerce to digital transactions. It has also forced brick-and-mortars resisting the hybridization of their own businesses to adopt digital methods, turning restaurants and apparel stores alike into both brick-and-mortar establishments and online sellers.

Against that backdrop, retail’s biggest quarter will present novel challenges this year. Retailers will need to optimize for online transactions and contend with fragmented national and global landscapes where it may be safe to go to stores in New York but not in Los Angeles.

Hyperlocal Device Targeting Should Be Part of Your Advertising Strategy

True hyperlocal advertising revolves around mobile location data. The intersection among time, place, device, and creative is the sweet spot that we’re aiming for here. By harnessing mobile location data, digital marketers can employ smarter audience targeting, deliver more timely and relevant ad messaging, generate more foot traffic, and measure the offline results of online marketing efforts. 

If you’re looking to add location-based advertising to your digital marketing mix, here are some effective tactics that can help you boost in-store visits.

Heard on the Street, Episode 54: Augmenting Local Commerce

AR’s impact on local is playing out in many ways, including Google’s “internet of places” aspirations to let you point your phone at storefronts to reveal information like business details and reviews. It’s also happening in brand advertising activations to let consumers visualize products in 3D through mobile AR interfaces.

M7 founder Matt Maher tells us there are several advantages to this new flavor of brand marketing. AR’s immersion creates strong consumer engagement, which can be seen in metrics like session lengths. In-store activations mean lower-funnel impact near the point of purchase.

As Retail Reopens, Voice Tech Takes Center Stage

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.

Covid-19: How Brands Can Adapt to a Shifting Landscape and Changing Consumer Behaviors

All generations, especially more technically adverse baby boomers and those older, have tried out delivery apps such as GrubHub or UberEats to get their favorite restaurant food delivered and grocery apps to have food and household items safely delivered. These newly formed habits may not be as intensive when we return to our “new normal,” but the depth and breadth of social media and digital usage will stay. Consumers aren’t going to uninstall Instacart after social distancing is lifted if they’re now accustomed to the convenience of ordering groceries online. That leap has been made, and while they may not use it every time they shop, consumers will continue to use it, when needed. 

With all these changes, it’s important for brands to shift their social media strategy to meet the demands of consumers and connect with them in the channels they now frequent more often. Here are some of the key shifts to keep in mind.