New Realities of Retail Marketing, Online and In-Store

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Think that "showrooming" means the end of brick and mortar retail? Think again. Connected consumers comparison shopping online while they're in-store is a game-changer, for sure, but the new reality …

Think that "showrooming" means the end of brick and mortar retail? Think again. Connected consumers comparison shopping online while they're in-store is a game-changer, for sure, but the new reality of retail marketing is fundamentally about creating a better experience. We outline 3 ways to build stronger retail brands in a market where online and offline are inseparable, and increasingly, indistinguishable.

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  • 1. The Brand Playhouse: How Brick-and-Mortar Can Play in an Online-Offline Marketplace 1
  • 2. What’s inside 3 Introduction 4 1 Empower Staff to Be Go-To Experts 5 2 Plug in Relevant, Enlightening Technologies 6 3 Curate a ShopperCentric Experience 7 What Now? 2 2
  • 3. Introduction It’s not news that shoppers are increasingly heading online to make purchases. But the sheer size of the online market is staggering. According to Forrester, by 2016 online sales will breach $327 billion in the United States and nearly $1 trillion worldwide. There is a huge amount of expert advice out there about how retail needs to adapt to survive in this new age. But here’s the simple truth: brick-andmortar stores can’t compete with the web in terms of convenience, selection and, often, value. So maybe they should stop trying. Retail stores offer something different than their online counterparts. They need to embrace these differences and focus on their differentiating benefits (and experience) to win in the marketplace. The online market has changed the game forever, but the fact remains that most shoppers prefer to shop 1 (and buy) in an actual store. Further, over half of US shoppers rate the in-store experience as an extremely valuable source of information about a brand. And, 1 2 in a world in which shoppers increasingly shop across multiple channels, they are still most likely 2 to make their final purchase in store. So, while it’s absolutely critical for retailers to invest in ecommerce platforms, they need to balance this need with enhancing their in-store experience. And the most successful brands will create a seamlessly integrated, complementary and continuous brand story that lives in multiple channels—both on and offline. The brick-and-mortar store offers something completely unique. It is a place where retailers can create an effective playhouse for shoppers to experience a brand’s promise and value. Here are three tips for harnessing the power of the in-store experience to differentiate and succeed in the new retail reality. Gartner Industry Research, Agenda Overview for Retail, 2013 Jack Morton Worldwide “New Realities 2013” Research 3
  • 4. 1. Empower Staff to Be Go-To Experts The most effective store associates are not sales people. Instead, they are trusted, valued storytellers and brand ‘friends.’ They are able to engage with shoppers in the most authentic and appropriate way. One standout example: Outdoor retailer REI’s brick-andmortar stores, which have a warm, rustic identity that invites in shoppers and encourages them to spend time in the space. Because one of REI’s brand pillars is education, store associates are not only trained to know a lot about merchandise, they also have personal experience with the gear and can therefore genuinely advise shoppers on what works best based on their needs. Outside of the store, associates lead REI Outdoor School programs that include instruction and trial gear to empower consumers to perform their best at a range of recreational activities. Furthermore, associates appear in digestible, educational ‘how to’ content featured on REI’s website. Store associates still play a significant role in brand building and the need for one-on-one interaction is a reason that many consumers choose in-store shopping. In order for retail stores to effectively stay relevant, they must empower their staff to share brand stories. 4
  • 5. 2. Plug in Relevant, Enlightening Technologies The border between ‘bricks to clicks’ is rapidly dissolving and retail stores must implement relevant new technologies to elevate the shopping experience. Burberry is a true leader in seamless technology integration. An early advocate for a rich online presence, the brand has used its digital experience to enhance its London flagship store. An enormous screen in the center of the space live-streams runway shows, RFID sensors on merchandise activate product-specific videos in nearby visual displays and sales associates are equipped with iPads to provide detail on merchandise and order out-ofstock items for delivery to the customer. Burberry also encourages social media activity through in-store displays. The more recent Burberry Kisses campaign, developed in partnership with Google, allows shoppers to capture their kiss imprint on a smartphone and send it in a digital love letter. While it’s easy enough for any retail store to install WiFi or apply QR codes (which are, let’s face it, totally over) the most effective retail stores seamlessly embed technology to enhance their brand experience. 5
  • 6. 3. Curate a ShopperCentric Experience Curated stores put the consumer at the center and feature a collection of products and experiences targeted to their wants and needs. An early example of curation done well is the Home Depot flagship in New York City, where square footage is at a premium and shoppers don’t have a need for a full-blown garden center or lumber aisle. Revolutionary in 2004, the format offered a range of products, howto events and customer services relevant for an urban lifestyle. Another example: National Geographic’s London store, which operates on a philosophy of appealing to a shopper’s sense of adventure rather than on siloed product categories. The dynamic space is designed to educate and inspire the shopper through expertly chosen merchandise from around the world that is organized by theme. Additionally, the store hosts exhibits and events with artists, adventurers, scientists and thought leaders, creating a destination for world travelers (and a natural extension of National Geographic’s brand promise). Finally, look at the evolution of the pop-up shop, which attracts shoppers not based on ‘limited time only,’ but rather on the promise of a unique experience. STORY is a small space in New York City that has the melded philosophy of an art gallery, magazine and retail shop. Every four to eight weeks, STORY completely refreshes the space around a different theme and/or brand partner. Curated environments appeal to the shopper’s interests and preferences because they support ‘lifestyle displays’ that focus on experiences and passions rather than categories of products—mirroring the way people live their lives through resonant experiences, not things. 6
  • 7. So… what now? The ‘arrive, buy and leave’ retail mentality is a thing of the past and retailers must make the in-store experience as relevant and appealing as possible to today’s onlineoffline shopper. Ultimately, in a highly competitive landscape, shoppers will almost always choose to buy from a trusted name, with 80% of them more likely to consider a brand if they 3 know they will have a great experience. That’s where the power of the in-store experience comes in. An empowered staff, relevant technologies and curated environments can help the brick-and-mortar store evolve into a compelling, memorable and yes! buyable brand experience. Lucy Barnard is an associate strategist at Jack Morton Worldwide. You can reach her at Lucy_Barnard@jackmorton.com. 3 Jack Morton Worldwide’s “Best Experience Brands” Research 7
  • 8. Talk to Jack Contact: Liz Bigham, EVP Brand Marketing E: liz_bigham@jackmorton.com Read our blog at blog.jackmorton.com Follow us on twitter @jackmorton Visit us online at jackmorton.com About Jack Morton Jack Morton Worldwide is a global brand experience agency with offices on five continents. Our agency culture promotes breakthrough ideas about how experiences connect brands and people—in person, online, at retail and through the power of digital and word of mouth influence. We work with clients to create powerful and effective experiences that engage customers and consumers, launch products, align employees and build strong experience brands. Ranked at the top of our field, we’ve earned hundreds of awards for creativity, execution and effectiveness. © Jack Morton Worldwide 2013 To read our ealier white pages, visit our Slideshare channel at sideshare.net/jackmortonww