Traditional retailers looking for fresh inspiration to spark a digital brand reinvention should look no further than the source of industry disruption – leading technology companies.
It might be ironic advice, but Damien Cummings, Philips ASEAN chief marketing officer says the technology sector pioneered digital business. “Brands like Dell, HP, Apple and Samsung led the charge with strong e-commerce and digital demand generation capabilities.” Retailers have a simple incentive to digitally transform online stores: more sales.
A recent Deloitte study The New Digital Divide states that shoppers using mobile technology are converting at a 40 percent higher rate when they interact with a brand on digital channels prior to visiting a store.
It comes after a media consumer survey conducted by Deloitte in August 2014 revealed smartphone ownership in Australia was 81 percent. With overwhelmingly high smartphone penetration, it’s no surprise 57 percent of Australians claim smartphones are their ‘go-to device’. In that context, investing in a digital marketing strategy is a no brainer. For retailers in particular, Cummings says consumers are motivated by three things: a great customer experience, convenience and a good price. “For experience, people turn to online reviews first. They are trusted and give you insight into the retail experience, the pros and cons of a product and even the best place to buy.
Convenience is definitely most often associated with e-commerce or m-commerce, as you can shop anywhere and everywhere you want. For price, online isn’t always cheaper, but product comparison tools are great for comparing features and prices long before you’ve thought about walking into a store,” says Cummings.
According to Phil Guest, Senior Vice-President at UK-based programmatic outfit Exchange Lab, digital reinvention is integral to creating a meaningful one-to-one marketing strategy. “Personalised content tailored to the consumers themselves will help generate interest and trust that – when coupled with a seamless way to buy (in-store or out) – will help fuel growth for retailers.”
Bridging the gap
A great way for retailers to merge the gap between bricks and mortar and the interwebs is through Near Field Communication (NFC) or beacon technology – allowing brands to reach consumers in more creative and personalised ways. “The technology offers a lifeline to bricks and mortar stores and will no doubt revive the high streets again with loyalty programs and e-deals being triggered by proximity, eventually doing away with physical vouchers and plastic loyalty cards. NFC also offers contactless payment in the form of mobile wallets, providing consumer convenience and speeding up transaction ‘admin’,” says Guest.
Just last year, lifestyle publisher NewsLifeMedia signed an exclusive partnership with contactless communications provider Tapit. As more brands delve into content marketing space, NFC provides an opportunity to deliver bespoke content just by having the consumer ‘tap’ their phone against an NFC-enabled device. NewsLifeMedia CEO Nicole Sheffield told media and marketing trade publication AdNews that in order for the company to move forward, it made sense to partner with Tapit. “Our clients were constantly asking for the next wave of solutions, and from a retail perspective we were looking at where they were going. We knew we needed an NFC partnership,” Sheffield told AdNews NewsLifeMedia used NFC for its Taste.com.au brand and its partnership with supermarket giant Coles to leverage content dissemination. For example, a person shopping at Coles might tap an NFC-enable sticker on an apple to automatically receive a Taste.com.au apple pie recipe on their mobile device.
Another great example of a retailer successfully combining digital with the in-store experience is Nike. At the end of 2014, Nike’s flagship Sydney store was the first in Australia to integrate music identification service Shazam to enhance the in-store shopping experience. When shoppers Shazam the tunes played in store, they receive native content about the song as well as clickable tiles with a call to action that links through to Nike marketing assets such as apps and video content. There are tangible financial benefits of digitising retail. Fashion retailer Burberry credited a nine per cent sales bump year-on-year at least in part to its digital marketing according to Burberry’s Chief Financial Officer Carol Fairweather quoted in Marketing Magazine in the UK. While the fast changes in the digital landscape can be overwhelming for more traditional CMOs, if they fail to adapt to the disruption, the bricks and mortar will come unstuck and crumble to the ground.