With 91 days until Christmas, it’s scary that we’re even starting the holiday shopping conversation. But it’s even scarier for brick-and-mortar retailers, more pressured than ever to drive sales growth during this busy timeframe—and find new ways to connect with busy shoppers among stiff competition online.
Flat out: brick-and-mortar is in crisis. You sense it as a shopper. Forbes said it. Add this to the fact that 1/3 of shoppers (overall) are visiting physical stores less often, and it’s pretty apparent. So as shopper marketers, how do we help our clients’ retail partners thrive during this season?
Here are 5 tips for brick-and-mortar retailers to consider as they take on online retailers?
- Don’t Fight “Showrooming.” The trend of researching products at a physical store and buying elsewhere (i.e., Amazon) at a cheaper price has become commonplace, and becomes especially prevalent as shoppers look for the best deal on holiday gifts. Retailers who have adopted an “omni-channel” strategy should heavily promote their online component, showing shoppers how easy it is to buy online—from their store—and offer added value for doing so. Added value might include: price-matching, a focus on inventory management, and incentives like free shipping or even same or next-day day delivery for online purchases throughout the season.
- Be “Always-On.” Mobile devices are a differentiator for brick-and-mortar retailers and should be leveraged to build stronger retail sales growth, as consumers use their smartphones to make purchases and as a shopping research tool (driving consumers into stores or back to desktops to complete that transaction). Retailers should heavily promote the unique features of their mobile apps and services to drive more shopper engagement and a better customer experience, no matter when and where they choose to shop. This includes better access to price comparisons, useful content around gift-giving ideas and access to social media to inspire gifting decisions.
- Make Shopping Social. Retailers should offer personalized and exclusive content across all their social networks, from promoting timely events and flash deals on Facebook and Twitter to local store communications and inventory updates on high-demand products. Pinterest should also be a primary channel for many retailers, creating pin boards to promote “must have” gifts. These boards encourage shoppers to re-pin items to their own accounts which boosts social word of mouth for specific products, ultimately tied back to the retailer’s eCommerce product pages.
- Data-Driven Competitive Pricing. As shoppers become more cautious than ever with their discretionary income, and wait it out longer for sales, they are comparing and doing far more due diligence through retailers’ websites and customer reviews before actually making purchases. Due to that, retailers’ technology must become more sophisticated, utilizing pricing intelligence that allows them to react quickly to an online competitor’s pricing strategy. Retailers should also implement more sophisticated analytics to measure consumer sentiment on product rates, markdowns and deals. These insights can help the retailer better predict and respond to shopper demand and behavior and determine when to price match throughout the season.
- Get Personal. Retailers need to relate to their customers on a more personal level. Whether they’re offering geo-targeted mobile deals in-store, using email marketing to offer product recommendations based on purchase history, or creating special offers based on customer attributes, retailers should utilize technology to form a personal connection with holiday shoppers and stand out from their competitors.
Why is this important to brands?
Although most brands’ holiday shopper marketing campaigns are planned almost a year out, there are often leftover funds that become available to use by year-end, and we should be thinking of incremental opportunities to leverage digital to quickly “turn on” a promotion or unique/personalized experience that drives traffic and incremental lift for our retail partners during this key timeframe.
The beauty of digital is we are not as burdened by long lead times or retailer approvals—this allows us to activate opportunistic initiatives that benefit our brands, while giving shoppers a reason to choose the brick-and-mortar retailer over convenient online solutions.
Mary Kotyuk is a Director of Marketing Activation based out of Momentum Chicago