Online and In-Store: Streamlining Your Brand Image in Real Time
Historically, creating a brand image with in-store marketing collateral was simple. With retail chains and single brick-and-mortar store locations, the shift in campaigns was a streamlined process from store to store. Each had the same window stickers, ceiling hangers and posters printed months in advance and delivered to each franchise consistently.
In today's market, however, this process is a complex web of shifting consumer expectations, online communication, instant customer feedback and localized content. As online marketplaces spring up in droves to answer the call by consumers for e-commerce sites to complement brick-and-mortar locations, cohesive branding is a challenge for retailers.
While online storefronts can shift with a few quick clicks of a mouse, in-store marketing collateral for promotions and campaigns can take months to complete and lack the ability to tailor to individual customers. From initial design, development and creation to printing, shipping and installation, the online location will have already shifted to the next event in the queue.
With this fast pace now the norm for retailers, and e-commerce bringing in over $71.2 billion in the first quarter of this year, companies need real-time printing solutions that allow for in-store marketing collateral to keep pace with online campaigns and offer localized content. Instead of implementing the extensive process of changing from one look to another, digital printing allows for quick changes to be made that are tailored to the needs, sentiments and attitudes of a specific store location. Retailers can simply send the updated file to their local print shop, print and deliver it within hours. No matter how the file is developed, retailers can react in real time to keep their branding consistent, yet still compelling to the individual consumer.
Here's a few examples of how employing a digital printing solution can help retailers streamline their branding both online and in-store at a low cost with full creative control:
- Holiday campaigns: As a main revenue driver, many retailers create holiday campaigns to cater to the busiest shopping season of the year in the U.S.: Thanksgiving to Christmas. However, this period comes and goes extremely quickly, meaning that retailers managing their brand image during the holidays have to move fast. Digital printing allows for a quick change of holiday materials from year-round branding and back again. It also allows retailers to react to customer behavior — e.g., promoting the hot online items in-store. This is especially useful since traditional holiday marketing materials have to be created months in advance to allow for printing and shipping time. With digital printing capabilities, it's now affordable for retailers to align printed material with real-time holiday trends and feedback.
- Geo-based preferences: When offering discounts and deals throughout the year, customers should see offers both online and in-store that are most relevant to them. As these usually last for just a few weeks, it's essential that marketing is on-point and consistent through all selling mediums to maximize visibility, thus improving profit potential. It's common for online marketplaces to promote products that are trending in a certain location. For example, products trending in a New York store are likely different than hot products in a California location. While online data can easily differentiate where these trending products are based on location and promote them in real time, in-store customization isn't quite as simple. Real-time printing of collateral to support the sale of these items can create a consistent experience for both online and in-store promotion of hot items.
- Weekly deals: Flash sales are all the rage online and can be extremely effective in increasing sales midweek. To bring that same experience in-store, retailers can use customized shelf labels or coupon books to match online banners. As consumers look for highly customized materials, these labels can even have a full-color image of the item and specific pricing on each due to the variability digital printing solutions provide. Imagine a celebrity wearing a specific style of shoe goes viral. An online shoe retailer could immediately promote that style of shoe on its homepage. With digitally printed material, brick-and-mortar stores can also promote it in a timely manner.
Another advantage of digital printing is the opportunity for in-house production, even for the smallest of retailers. As quality and speed have long been a concern for tangible printed items to match a website's images, digital printers are able to meet those standards at a relatively low cost.
For those skeptics of e-commerce and omnichannel retail operations, there are solutions out there that can help keep branding consistent and revenue up. Syncing website and in-store collateral is easily attainable with a move toward digital printing.
Gus Piccin is the vice president of sales at Memjet, a digital printing provider.