Retail is undergoing a technological revolution. Augmented reality, social media, and digital wallets are just a few technologies that are changing the way we shop. These new technologies have been developed in response to changing consumer expectations. Now, customers expect their shopping experiences to be personalised, integrated and responsive. For example, research conducted by Wunderman and Penn Schoen Berland found that 79% of consumers prefer brands that adapt to their needs. In this article, we run through the technologies that are transforming retail marketing and how companies can keep pace in a rapidly developing market.
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How is retail marketing different from other sectors?
The central concept of retail marketing is simple – it’s the process of delivering a product to a customer in a retail store. However, a unique product is only the first step – companies also need to develop packaging, competitive pricing, and compelling sales campaigns. Now, retail marketing professionals model this process through the four C’s of marketing: Consumer, cost, communication and convenience. In essence, this approach places the consumer’s desires and preferences at the centre of the sales strategy, as opposed to a company’s sales targets.
The 3 most disruptive trends in retail marketing
This tendency toward customer centricity has driven numerous interesting developments in retail marketing strategies. In the past five years or so, the sector has undergone radical change. Below, we describe the key disruptors:
1- Integrating online and offline channels
It’s not news that e-commerce presents fierce competition to the high street. However, many bricks and mortar retailers are rising to the challenge and integrating their online and offline customer experiences. For instance, many retail marketers have noticed that customers often turn to mobile devices whilst in-store.
Therefore, brands are making it easier for customers to access information about sizing, stock and item reviews across channels. From here, brands capture customer data to deploy remarketing efforts.
2- Make user-generated content work for you
Some retailers are facilitating the creation of user-generated content via branded experiences. Through this strategy, brands are creating content that feels organic, authentic, and trustworthy. Furthermore, this strategy is extremely cost-effective, as the viral tendencies of social media mean its reach extends far beyond traditional formats. An inspired example is Burberry’s augmented reality tool, which interacts with customers smartphone cameras to produce branded content.
3- Artificial intelligence is facilitating purchases
Virtual assistants like Google Home, Alexa and Siri have created what many retailers consider to be a fourth sales channel. By 2020, Comscore predicts that half of all online searches will be conducted by voice. This indicates that consumers will soon have a faster path to products, which means retailers have a faster path to purchase. Therefore it’s essential that retailers integrate and adapt their artificial intelligence capabilities.
How chatbots can help retailers improve customer experience
Artificial intelligence tools like virtual assistants and chatbots are transforming the retail sector. This is especially the case as customers demand more personalised digital purchase experiences. It’s certain that chatbots make the digital shopping experience more engaging and gratifying, as chatbots can mimic human interactions found in-store. For example, a chatbot can simulate the experience of discussing a purchase with a shop assistant. During the online purchase journey, a chatbot can make suggestions, check stock, and share personalised marketing content.
Moreover, chatbots enable brands to deliver personalised service around-the-clock. Chatbots can handle frequently asked questions, so customers can gain the information they need instantly. However, if a customer raises an unusual or complex query, the chatbot can notify human agents who can handle the request. As a result, chatbots facilitate greater throughput by filtering repetitive questions – so employees can focus on more important tasks. As such, chatbots offer retailers the opportunity to entirely integrate their digital and physical customer experiences, delivering the highest level of service across all channels.
Out with the old and in with the new
Today, retail marketing extends far beyond visual merchandising – now, marketers are using every channel to generate customer engagement. An omni channel customer journey is becoming increasingly crucial to a marketing strategy – especially as 82% of customers consult their smartphones before converting in-store. Technological advancement means brands have to adapt – and their retail marketing has to be innovative and engaging.