March 29, 2018

Don’t Tell the Media: Retail is Alive and Well

It’s rare to go a full day without reading a headline in your email inbox or on a news site highlighting the rapid demise of the retail industry. Many brands that have become household names are undergoing massive business restructuring or shuttering their doors altogether. Shopping malls that once served as go-to destinations for many communities are experiencing increasing vacancies. The perception largely driven by the media is that brick and mortar retail is a sinking ship, but what is the reality? Deloitte set out on a nearly year-long study to better understand the state of retail as it stands today and the driving forces behind recent changes. And what did they find? The silver lining.

 

Despite the onslaught of negative press, retail is still growing and in many places, thriving. Backed by a stable and growing economy, consumer confidence is at an all time high. Experts predict that in the next five years, online sales will grow 11.7 percent annually, and in store sales by 1.7 percent.1 That’s healthy growth across the board.

IBIS World Projected Retail Growth

Deloitte found that a big contributor to the success of brick and mortar stores actually comes down to income. Today, shoppers in lower income brackets prefer to to buy in physical stores. As the wealth gap continues to widen, more and more Americans are losing their discretionary incomes and landing in this low earning bracket. The purchases they make will likely be in person, so brick and mortar stores stand to benefit the most from this change in the distribution of wealth.

 

With this in mind, here are a few marketing priorities to consider:

 

1. Fine tune your customer acquisition strategy

Yes, you know a lot about your customers, but are you investing into the right channels that will lead them (and other audiences who look like them) to make a purchase? As mentioned previously, even details like household income (HHI) play a significant role in the way people shop. Consumers with a low HHI may compare prices online before ultimately going into a nearby store to make a purchase. Your marketing dollars should be aligned with these behaviors. For many brands, it may be time to reevaluate how consumers search, and ultimately buy. Find an agency that can help you understand the unique features of your most profitable audiences, and then identify the right mix of channels to activate them. Small optimizations on the front-end can have a big impact on long-term growth.

 

AMP Agency Customer Journey Mapping


2. Make it easy for consumers to compare prices and find inventory at nearby stores

Eighty-one percent of consumers do online research before making a purchase.2 Whether shoppers are becoming more cost conscious or simply cost aware, the fact is they are more informed than ever before. Retailers should leverage local ads to motivate store visits. Solutions like Google’s Local Inventory Ads and Brand Showcase Ads allow shoppers to quickly locate information on the products they’re looking for as well as their availability in nearby stores. Google also has a feature that allows advertisers to adjust bids for individuals with a certain income range (from the top 10% to the lower 50%), who live within a certain geography. If you’re a multichannel retailer who sells discounted items, you may want to increase bids for searches that originate in an area in the lower 50% household income level. To measure the impact these ads are having on driving purchases in stores, check out Google’s Store Visits tool. Store Visits uses anonymous, aggregated data to measure the number of people who click or view ads and later visit a store.

 

3. Build superior storefront shopping experiences

The digital and physical shopping experience shouldn’t be planned in silos, rather they should be developed as a consistent end-to-end experience. Forty-two percent of in-store shoppers search for more information while in a physical store3 and savvy retailers like Sephora are combining digital elements into their physical stores to make it easy for shoppers to explore, find and purchase the products that are right for them. Discount retailers like Marshalls are making the physical shopping experience more social by encouraging store visitors to share their unique finds with their social networks using the hashtag #marshallssurprise.

 

Marshalls Surprise


4. Leverage partnerships to grow awareness and sales

Brands and retailers often market to the same consumers, so by working together, their power is magnified. With ecommerce set to experience double-digit growth over the next five years, digital co-op investments are a great way for brands to increase their exposure online and drive sales across channels. The right agency can help you identify, manage, and measure the outcomes of these opportunities.

 

While the Retail industry is alive and well, we are seeing a massive shift in the way multichannel retailers operate to meet the changing needs of their consumers. And let’s not count out pure-play e-tailers. Amazon is working hard to turn low income shoppers into loyal customers. Individuals who receive government assistance can qualify for a reduced $5.99 a month Prime membership, and EBT cards can now be used to pay for qualifying groceries. We expect that as brands compete more on price and free shipping becomes more universal, consumers from all income brackets will begin to make more purchases online.

 

As Socrates once said, “the secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

 

Here’s to building the new.

 

You can access a copy of the Deloitte study, The Great Retail Bifurcation, here.

 

1 IBIS World

2 GE Capital

3 Google, Ipsos

 

May 10, 2017

The Retail Crusade

As online retailers continue to dominate the retail world, the future for traditional retailers seems bleak. It’s evident that many brick and mortar stores have struggled to stay ahead in the digital age, leaving them to face the inevitable doom of shutting doors and waving the white flag.

Sure, the future looks rather dim for many traditional retailers… but we are here to discuss the retail crusaders who have ventured through the rubble and are coming out victorious, the retailers who have faced the digital age with a different approach. Instead of leading their customer to another online store and fight for competitive pricing, they have led their customers in-store, providing an in-person digital experience and one-upping their competition with the power of a simple human touch to keep brick and mortar sales high.

Through innovative approaches, they have changed the way that shoppers interact with their products, building things that can only be experienced live.

Moving Online to In-line and In-Store

  1. Macys iBeacons

Macys

Macy’s used an innovative approach to bringing their mobile shoppers in-store during Black Friday. With their Walk In & Win campaign, they prompted users to install their app and shop in-store to be eligible to win prizes, including a grand prize of $1,000,000. Using beacon technology, Macy’s knew immediately when app users were in-store and were able to send them notifications of special offers and instant prizes. It was an ingenious way to incentivize their digital shoppers to get a unique in-store experience.

         2. Bloomingdales, Ralph Lauren Interactive Shopping Windows

Bloomingdales

Bloomingdales and Ralph Lauren took the difficulty of finding the ‘perfect gift for dad’ on Father’s Day and made it fun through a 4D graphic fashion show. Window shoppers were able to use a touch screen installed on the outside of the store to select various Ralph Lauren Polo items, mixing and matching to create a gift dads would love. They could then buy the items immediately in-store completing their shopping hassle-free.

       3. Walgreens- Digital Mapping 

Walgreens

Walgreens Pharmacy has made shopping fun again. By creating a game-like application on each shopping cart, they are allowing their customers to find each item with ease while saving some major bucks along the way.

Walgreens used a special camera to add a detailed 3D view to their in-store maps. The information was woven together with the store floor plans to show where products were located and where they were on the shelves. Shoppers were also served highly contextual discounts on items as they passed by, incenting them to interact with the maps.

So, as you can see, retailers are doing some pretty amazing things within the digital landscape.

Are the retail crusaders responsible for reports like ….  https://retail.emarketer.com/article/us-shoppers-still-prefer-make-most-purchases-in-store/58dd8922ebd400061c80f3cf

Headline

 

Possibly. But what we do know for certain is that to continue to compete in the retail space, brick and mortar stores need to continue to play to their strengths, incorporating digital instore.

Want to learn more about how AMP can help your business bring digital in-store? Contact us, here.

 

January 25, 2017

A New Type of Travel Agency: AI Meets Human Expertise

Over the last two decades, OTAs and direct-supplier ticketing websites have revolutionized the industry and forced many brick-and-mortar travel agencies to reinvent themselves, find their niche, or close their doors altogether.

Many of the travel agencies that remain standing serve a wealthy clientele. When Travel + Leisure wrote about the importance of travel agents in May 2015, they cited trips like a 32-person, two week, six city trip across India as an example that highlights a travel agent’s indispensability.2 While one may appreciate the services provided to make this trip possible, it is not a relatable scenario to most travelers. Yet, according to IBIS World, the travel agency industry is growing once again and showing signs of a broad turn to experts to help plan travel.3

We see four trends that will increase demand for travel agents in the near future:

  1. OTAs that serve endless choices, not solutions
  2. The possibility for better, more personalized recommendations powered by big data and artificial intelligence (AI)
  3. A new generation of travelers who have come of age on mobile devices
  4. The ongoing premium placed on 'authenticity'

When it comes to booking, our study showed 79% of individuals want customization and ease. The majority (56%) of those surveyed have used a travel agent in the past, citing deals, time savings, and expert advice as the best reasons to use a travel agent. Of those who had not used an agent, 30% didn’t do so because they enjoyed the planning process and 25% found it to be too expensive. Another 21% said, “I trust myself more.”

Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 11.59.15 AMScreen Shot 2017-01-25 at 11.59.42 AM

 

Importantly, frequent travelers value an agent’s expertise and ability to save time, whereas infrequent ones value an agent’s ability to save money and stress. While 85% of individuals are willing to have another party help plan their trip, agencies need to help consumers understand more clearly how they offer personalization that demonstrates desirable ROI.

Traditional travel agents should also be warned of new services like Lola, which fuse a chat interface, AI and human expertise to generate trips.

Lola offers a glimpse at the future of travel agencies – personal, immediate and delivered through a chat interface. The brand deliberately avoids the data tables that plague almost all other booking experiences. It is the only travel experience we know of that is built for an audience who has come of age conversing through mobile intermediaries.

Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 12.00.46 PM

Key Takeaways:

  • A combination of AI and human expertise is about to disrupt the travel agency industry.
  • Travelers are receptive to planning assistance for an agent provided there is demonstrable ROI (time saved, money saved, expertise, or personalization).

To learn more, download our newest Whitepaper, ‘Targeting Moments of Need in the new Travel Landscape’ – here.

December 16, 2016

Five Things CMOs Want in 2017

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According to Hugh Kennedy of Ad Age, brands’ chief marketing officers will be looking to agencies to mix measurement with creative in 2017 and use these tools to prove ROI for marketing spend. In addition, taking a broader look at brand stories and understanding how to demonstrate brand relevance based on consumer needs will be priorities for success.

Read the full list here.

December 15, 2016

It's All Part of the Packaging: How Marketing Can Solve the Problems Food and Drink Brands Face

Screen Shot 2016-12-15 at 11.20.53 AM.pngThe food and drink industry faces criticism from every angle. From government regulations on the advertisement of alcohol, society’s pressures to keep trim and slim and ‘Lean In Fifteen’, to the impact of waste and resource on the world’s rising temperature; food and drink brands have to cater for any possible criticism.

How sweet it can be.

December 13, 2016

Facebook’s Latest Measurement Error Irks Marketers

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When it comes to measurement errors, the third time is even less charming than the second and first. Last week, it was reported that Facebook had been miscalculating how often users react to live videos and how often users like and share links posted on Facebook. Because the error is the third of its kind since September, some marketers are questioning Facebook’s maturity. BLITZ’s director of social, Kevin Wright, says “given the frequency and severity of the errors being discovered, Facebook should be proactively reaching out to their partners.”

Proactivity is key.

December 8, 2016

How Facebook’s Measurement Errors Have Eroded Marketers’ Trust

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The aftershocks of Facebook’s measurement errors continue to ripple across the advertising industry. While Facebook has emphasized that the flawed figures — such as average watch time, organic reach and video completion rates — did not affect how much money it charged advertisers for their campaigns, that doesn’t mean advertisers and their agencies haven’t been affected. Just ask BLITZ’s Director of Social Media, Kevin Wright, who shares how some marketers have been shook up.

Years to build, seconds to destroy.

December 7, 2016

[Video] Here Are 5 Hot Cultural Trends That Marketers Need to Know for 2017

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Because cultural diversity was a big theme to the 2016 race for the White House, there are predictions that "inclusive economy" will be a buzz term to understand next year. Marketers are going to have to include cultural listening and predictive modeling to identify white space for brands to step in and fill the gaps that are being left by the political system.

Listen and learn.

December 7, 2016

Overmonetized Influencers and Pesky Millennials: What Brands Are Worried About Right Now

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Digiday asked brands to “map out” what is really on their minds when it comes to challenges in the brand marketing space. Each individual mind map was then used to create one giant composite chart to try and envision what really is occupying the headspace of top brands right now.

Get in their head.

December 7, 2016

Netflix Wins Top Marketer of the Year

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Topping a list of 10 brands that were recognized for highly effective work this year, Netflix isn't what you would call a quintessential marketer. For one, the streaming video service does little in the way of traditional marketing. And what it does do, it doesn't like to discuss.

The A-list.

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