Digital technology is massively empowering in retail but the smart strategy is still to lead with the right content and experience.
Digital channels are the message spreaders, not the heart of the story in themselves. Although, the range of options available adds a fresh dimension to the content creation stage and helps to ensure quality and quantity objectives keep the campaign fires well stoked.
“Digital channels are the message spreaders, not the heart of the story in themselves. Although, the range of options available adds a fresh dimension to the content creation stage”
The real challenge is coming to terms with the full potential of new technologies and tools, and having a better understanding of customer needs from each digital option, as well as the subsequent ability to engage with shoppers using the right brand stories and experiences.
For example, the rise of video versus static image is climbing at an incredible rate. Many brands are using video to show customers more of their offer in much less time than other mediums would allow.
In an average web shop I suspect you would only get visitors to browse approximately eight pages. A video clip can show 10 outfits in less than 10 seconds.
Streaming live from the catwalk attracts an online fashion crowd, but until now it’s been limited to mobile users only. Now Twitter-owned Periscope has integrated with Go Pro’s Hero4 camera to make it even easier to stream your own personal content.
“Brands are seeing the huge marketing potential for a generation of consumers that’s always switched on”
Facebook are hot on their heels and has already launched a rival app in the US. It’s taken a while for this new form of personal broadcasting to be adopted, but journalists, celebrities, and brands alike are seeing the huge marketing potential for a generation of consumers that’s always switched on.
Agent Provocateur has used this new tech to stream live from key store events with the addition of live chat. I can see this trend continuing and customers playing an ever-increasing role in content creation. It’s a fantastic way to generate interest and entice customers into stores.
If the budget doesn’t stretch to video, the next best thing is ‘swiping’ – Tinder style. The WantList mobile app by Styloko lets you swipe through about 60 products in only 60 seconds. It’s super easy and really effective.
Elsewhere, Snapchat and other social apps offer opportunities for brands to interact with customers on a much more personal level.
Canny retailers can take advantage of the app’s varied features and benefits to drive footfall to stores, increase physical sales and boost customer engagement – for example by sending customers a voucher snap. The voucher amount is unknown to the user, and the perishable nature of Snapchat requires the user to open the image at the point of sale in order to redeem the offer.
Then there is the opportunity to regularly raise awareness of highly anticipated new products for brand fans and create a regular dialogue.
Retailers willing to test and use creative ways to drive interest and attention to bricks-and-mortar stores without negatively impacting their online efforts are going to position themselves for sustained growth.
“The emergence of new digital tools and the overwhelming acceptance of consumers to use them has truly changed the retail landscape at every level”
The emergence of new digital tools and the overwhelming acceptance of consumers to use them has truly changed the retail landscape at every level.
Retailers can often be fooled into investing into all of them with no clear leader to ensure the channels and tools are managed effectively.
My strategy has always been to combine the very best of the physical experience with the convenience of the digital to create and deliver the most compelling and rewarding brand and shopping experience possible.
But don’t do stuff just for the sake of it… remember this quote from John Hoerner: “Don’t be distracted by solutions looking for a problem”.
My advice is simple:
- Create a digital strategy that is aligned to your wider business goals
- Choose the right platforms and applications – do less, but do it well
- Have a content and network strategy for each social platform – great content without a network is useless and poor content with a large network is damaging
- Have clear KPIs
- Resource properly – the day of the intern managing digital has long gone
- Test, review and learn
- Be creative
I keep up to date on new digital technology by following a few great bloggers and experts on twitter.
I like Retail Bytes @retailpractice and Ron Sela @ronsela. I am also really impressed with the approach to communications that recognises how digital thinking that drives proper public reactions can help boost brand SEO from Richard Medley and the team at Frank PR.
As a final point, be switched on to the fact that more and more of the content businesses share will be created by customers using new digital tech. I loved the crowd-sourced campaign at Selfridges, which was an interactive ad campaign to promote its new denim department made up of images shot by the public.
- Mark Aldridge is a retail and brand marketing specialist, who has worked for BAA Retail and was group marketing director at Jacques Vert Group