Between increasing competition and decreasing attention spans, standing out as a retailer — be it online or offline — proves more and more challenging. Below are nine e-commerce and social media trends that Loomly has identified, which come with significant opportunities for digital and physical stores to differentiate themselves and seduce shoppers:
1. Planning Content Ahead of Time is the New Norm
Carefully crafting and laying out how brand storytelling unfolds over time is key to ensuring publishing quality and frequency. Content planning is also one of the most effective ways to appeal to shoppers’ emotions and convince them to visit online and physical stores.
2. (Original) Content is King
Creating content from scratch that aligns with brand DNA and audience expectations is the best strategy to build good will over time. As organic reach decreases on most major online platforms, emerging as a signal in the noise is increasingly more challenging — and automation, duplicated content and clickbait are no longer reliable strategies. Building entertaining, informative and pedagogical content not only drives foot and click traffic, but it also generates loyalty.
3. Collaboration Drives Success
Digital and social media marketing have become legitimate communication channels for brands of all shapes and sizes. Strategizing and deploying campaigns over this medium is a responsibility involving an always wider group of stakeholders. Top companies do not only involve multiple talents (e.g., creatives, designers, copywriters, photographers), they also empower multiple departments to work together: marketing, finance, HR, legal, product and sales. This results in better content and consistent experiences across all channels, both online and offline, for shoppers.
4. Responsiveness Isn't an Option
Online shoppers have higher expectations than ever in terms of quality of service. Not surprisingly, in a world that keeps accelerating, one of the biggest drivers of satisfaction is speed. Being there for website visitors and social media followers by providing a timely and courteous response to comments and messages is no longer a competitive advantage; it’s the new standard.
5. Closed-Loop Marketing is the Name of the Game
On the one hand, an always larger budget share is dedicated to online campaigns. On the other hand, new solutions make it easier than ever to evaluate drive-to-store initiatives. For both online and offline retailers, measuring, learning and optimizing marketing initiatives has become a necessity.
6. Social Commerce is Here
Social commerce is almost as old as social media itself. However, for some reason, the shopping habit has never really lived up to the hype. With Facebook making a big splash into the e-commerce game (through Checkout on Instagram, Catalog on WhatsApp, and Marketplace on Facebook), selling and buying products through social media should accelerate significantly.
7. Reach is All About Rich Media
While there's no doubt that photos will remain the foundation of online communication, more and more advanced media are on the rise, such as podcasts, videos, geo-filters, stories and augmented reality experiences. Retailers big and small will be able to take advantage of these technologies, which keep lowering costs and skills, to leverage such formats and offer appealing, differentiating and interactive shopping experiences to their customers.
8. Welcome to the Era of Vertical Integration
From pure digital players opening physical stores (e.g., Allbirds, Everlane, Buck Mason) to historic market leaders developing new online business models (such as Nike with its kid's subscription offer), vertical integration is happening left and right. And it appears as a new untapped growth potential for many brands. More than ever, online and offline retail are converging.
9. Brand Collaboration (Really) is the New Black
As a result of all the above, with more and more technological, financial and procedural barriers going down, collaborations between brands are — and will continue to be — on the rise, offering exclusive, time-limited and one-of-a-kind products and experiences to consumers.
As we embark on a new decade, the way consumers shop, both online and offline, is shifting. This change comes with many opportunities that level the retail playing field and empowers retailers of all shapes and sizes to reinvent themselves and beat the competition.
Thibaud Clément is CEO of Loomly, a brand success platform for marketing teams.
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