10 Ways To Provide a Cutting-Edge Retail Customer Experience

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 Succeed at Listings, Struggle on Rankings, Review Response

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.

VR is the Next Commerce Frontier. Strap on Your Headset

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. 

Foot Traffic Data Shows Signs of Retail Apocalypse Can Speak to Smart Retail Strategy

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.

The Core 4 Digital Marketing Challenges Multi-Location Brands Experience — And The Tech Solution

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.

Blending Online and In-Store: The Boom of BOPIS

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.

Connected Consumers Are More Demanding Than Ever – How Retailers Are Adapting

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.

Report: Holiday Shoppers Prioritize Speed in Retail Experience

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.

How to Thrive on Amazon around the Holidays: Tips and Tricks to Prep this Season

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.

Mobile Drives Sales on Black Friday

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.

Retail Q5: Secrets to Maximizing Holiday Social Advertising Campaign Impact

The heightened emphasis on shopping during the holidays is a boon for retailers and advertisers, as brands flood all of our social feeds and airwaves with hot deals—not to mention the ever present cadre of e-commerce offerings also trying to break through. Spending on digital ads is also expected to increase as more advertisers shift their efforts to social media over television and print.

Naturally, much of this social media spending will go to Facebook. It can seem difficult, especially for SMB retailers, to break through the noise. But there is hope if you know how to game the system to be able to maximize the impact of your Facebook ads. There is this concept of “Q5,” which refers to the ~15 day period during just before and after the holidays where the lead time on ground shipping makes shopping online difficult. You’ll hear differing definitions on the exact time frame, and there is a regional element, too, as not everyone lives within one- or two-day shipping distances. 

New Brandify Survey Reveals Consumer Habits in Local Search

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.

What’s Ahead for Last-Mile Delivery in 2020

Delivery is emerging as a competitive advantage for local retailers. In fact, in September 2019, Onfleet surveyed 1,000 US consumers to gather their impressions on online versus local store shopping and delivery expectations. Seventy-six percent said they would be more inclined to order from local stores rather than from Amazon if they could get same-day delivery.

With that in mind, here are some delivery trends we’re expecting for 2020.

Which Emerging Social Platforms Will Win Big This Holiday Season?

Retailers looking for an edge this holiday season are testing the waters with newer, emerging social platforms in a bid to generate awareness and market their products to huge audiences of tech-savvy teens and twenty-somethings.

On TikTok, a mobile app for creating and sharing short videos, retailers are poised to connect with a base of more than 500 million users.

The Power and Shifting Meaning of Local

Urban, suburban, and rural residents have different shopping habits in their “local” areas. Many marketers are investing in mobile location-based ads — BIA/Kelsey predicts US spending will top $26 billion this year — yet as a retailer your goal isn’t just to reach consumers but to connect with them by acknowledging their different perspectives.

Talking to your customers requires a customized strategy that prioritizes location and takes their everyday lives into consideration. Harnessing the power of local starts with knowledge: where your customers live, what they want, and how to deliver it on behalf of your brand.

November Focus: The Holiday Blitz is Here

This year’s holiday shopping season is not new (by definition), but there will be salient differences and revelations this season. The past year has seen lots of retail innovation as the industry looks to counteract the cautionary tales of late-adopting counterparts in the “retailpocolypse” graveyard.

It’s those innovations and integrations that will be exposed when put to the stress test of the holiday shopping blitz. After reading and writing about them in the pages of Street Fight all year, we’ll now get a look at how a lot of these implementations perform (good or bad) with greater shopping scale.

Now More than Ever, Local Strategy Differs by Vertical

The putative benefits of competing in vertically oriented channels come at a greater cost than was the case when GMB provided a unitary platform for all industries. Simply put, Google is serving the specialized needs of price-conscious travelers or those who want greater assurances when hiring a service professional, and in so doing, the company is creating additional channels to generate revenue through ads. More and more businesses will have to get used to spending their way toward greater exposure to their desired audiences — which is only odd in light of the fact that so much of local marketing has historically been organic in nature.

Why Your Location-Based Ad Campaign Isn’t Working (And How to Make It Better)

Many low-accuracy solutions produce horizontal location data only – location in multi-story buildings is not even a possibility. The result is that advertisers are designing campaigns with the equivalent of one hand tied behind their back, generating two-dimensional campaigns for a three-dimensional world.

What advertisers really need is the ability to reach consumers wherever they are, including the floor level in a multi-story mall, and entice them to enter the store. To achieve this, high-accuracy 3D location is needed. Fortunately, new capabilities are in place to help retailers design more effective campaigns, which will drive better results and raise consumers’ expectations to new heights (pun intended!). 

Three Ways Indoor Maps Do More for Complex Retail Buildings

Once a venue’s maps have been digitized for wayfinding purposes, there are many ways to drive additional ROI from that same set of indoor maps. When location technologies are designed with interoperability in mind, it becomes possible to blend different technologies together to create smart solutions that provide value not only to business operations but also to consumers. By integrating digitized, layer-based indoor maps with other solutions such as the indoor equivalent of GPS, known as Indoor Positioning Systems (IPS), asset tracking and business intelligence, great things become possible. 

Here is a shortlist of the top use cases that malls can implement to generate further ROI from their indoor mapping investments.

Retail as a Service: Amazon Tips its Hand

Amazon has a knack for moving into new vertical segments and then applying its logistical mastery and economies of scale to carve out margins and undercut incumbents. Then, it doubles down by scaling things up to its signature high-volume/low-margin approach. As Jeff Bezos ruthlessly admits, “Your margin is my opportunity.”

The latest place for this to unfold is retail. No, we’re not talking about Whole Foods, though that’s part it (more on that in a bit). We’re talking about Amazon’s transformation of the in-store experience — upending and streamlining logistics just like it’s done in shipping and cloud computing.

Here are some predictions for how Amazon’s disruption of retail via licensing of its Go technology will upend the industry.