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.
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.