Against the myth of the “retail apocalypse,” 94 percent of all retail sales still take place in a physical store. Retailers have invested their resources in omnichannel marketing strategies to align with ever-evolving customer preferences, but as retailers watch Amazon.com dominate the e-commerce space, there's a newfound focus on brick-and-mortar and, more specifically, how to convert in-store shoppers into customers.
With Disruption Comes Marketplace Opportunities
There’s a wealth of opportunity in a market that brings in roughly $3.9 trillion in annual sales. While online shopping offers comfort and convenience, consumers still prefer to get a firsthand look at the product when shopping. Fifty-six percent of shoppers say they first visit stores to assess products before buying them online. Amongst the 1.1 million U.S. brick-and-mortar retail locations, even the e-commerce behemoths are capitalizing on this trend as Amazon Go locations pop up throughout the nation. Indeed, grocers are setting the precedent for the rest of retail, and one of the ways they’re successfully reinventing the shopping experience is leveraging customers’ frequent point of purchase. Though many retailers once looked upon digital as a competitive channel, the question now is how can digital technology be used to fuel a brick-and-mortar renaissance?
Technology is Friend, Not Foe, to Brick-and-Mortar Retail
Retailers need to prioritize creating unique and personalized shopping experiences, whether the end sale is completed in-store or online. To fully inform this strategy, retail marketers should be tuned into the factors that are driving sales — what those factors are, and why the customer completes their shopping cycle where they do. This is more crucial than ever before as the lines between in-store and online continue to blur, given that nearly 60 percent of shoppers look up product information and prices while using their mobile phones in-store. By leveraging personalization technologies within physical stores, retail marketers can use valuable customer insights to provide better experiences and recommendations. This is why programmatic ads are the most cost-efficient way to deliver content to target audiences by pinpointing preferences at every stage of the customer journey.
Programmatic Brings New Metrics and Data to the Traditional Retail Experience
Given the rise of emerging technologies in retail and beyond, there’s an unprecedented volume of proprietary customer data that retailers can get their hands on through foot traffic targeting, location-based data sets, advanced behavioral targeting, and the “Internet of Eyes” in computer vision.
Through audience targeting and the use of new attribution technologies, retailers can better understand customer behavior and map each customer journey to determine the optimal role for both in-store and e-commerce environments. This will enable retailers and marketers alike to personalize an end-to-end experience through the propagation of appropriate messaging to target audiences at the point of sale.
Programmatic is equipped with optimization algorithms that process campaign data in real time, providing a distinct advantage in cross-channel campaigns. As a retailer, if you integrate certain technologies in-store that are capable of identifying customers as they enter and recognize the products they're browsing, these insights are invaluable in effectively and strategically tailoring and improving the customer experience and increasing overall return on investment. From there, individualized offers, complementary products, targeted coupons, and other marketing collateral can be deployed to build customer loyalty and affinity with your brand.
Brick-and-Mortar Still Has a Key Role to Play
The retail landscape will continue to face its peaks and valleys as the paths to purchase between the physical and digital worlds are blurred. Ultimately, the assimilation of e-commerce and brick-and-mortar strategies and the integration of multiple data points across platforms will facilitate a more seamless omnichannel experience. Identifying, understanding and consolidating both in-store and digital metrics will ensure retailers stay ahead of the curve.
Technology will be the key driver of success, and will allow retailers to intelligently communicate with their customers throughout the retail journey and drastically improve the way consumers shop. In turn, this will create a more personalized omnichannel experience — whether a customer’s preferences align with a digital or traditional brick-and-mortar experience.
Dean Vegliante is the president of Netmining, a provider of programmatic data-driven targeting solutions.