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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.