Consumers have changed how they shop; retailers need to keep up.
If you’re a retailer, you’re probably already feeling the winds of change blowing through your business.
The truth is retail has changed dramatically in recent years, and it’s not just about point of sale and eCommerce anymore. In today’s market, if you really want to succeed, you need a full-fledged digital marketing strategy for retailers that takes into account everything from your in store operations to your online presence.
Your retail software can’t just process sales and track inventory- it needs to help you automate your entire business, in store and online, and more importantly- it needs to help you increase your sales.Since the start of the pandemic, your customers rely so much more on mobile devices for shopping and have completely shifted their expectations. Younger generations, combined with the newer mindset of ALL consumers these days, means your business needs to be everywhere with a complete digital marketing strategy- otherwise your business will miss out on sales.
In this blog, we are going to talk about how drastically the retail industry and consumers shopping patterns have changed and specifically,
Three Reasons Retailers Need a Digital Strategy:
1. Shopping starts in the palm of your hand
2. Don't be a needle in a haystack
3. Customers want virtual hugs!
1. Shopping Starts in the Palm of your Hand
Since the pandemic, consumers rely more on mobile devices for their shopping and expect retailers to meet those needs. It’s really pretty simple- without doing this, your retail business will risk becoming obsolete! Your customers are everywhere, and so your business needs to be everywhere too, in order to stay in front of them and continue to earn their business and make more sales.
As we started this blog with, 63% of purchases begin online, whether they ultimately buy in your store or online. That means so many more of your customers are now combining their in store shopping with online, and vice versa- in fact…
It’s more important than ever before to not only offer multiple retail channels, but to combine those channels, so that you can offer a unified shopping experience to your customers. This means you not only need to offer eCommerce (hopefully all retailers are at least doing that these days!), but your eCommerce should be integrated with your retail software at your store. Then you can take this even further by offering your own company-branded mobile shopping app.
You might be thinking- I’m already so busy- how can I possibly keep up with 3 different retail channels?
The solution is having a unified retail software platform that makes it easy for you to manage all of this.
With Integrated Point of Sale, eCommerce & Mobile Apps you can offer your customers:
- Buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS), same day
- Curbside pickup with text message notifications
- Integrated gift cards, selling & redeeming them across all channels
- Integrated loyalty reward programs, letting them earn & redeem points anywhere
- Visibility into what products are available and where- so they can shop how they want
With a unified retail system, retailers can more easily manage all channels:
- Inventory connected across all channels, and updated as soon as a sale is made anywhere
- Sales from all channels pull back into one place- your central back office
- Pricing and product updates are made in one place- and easily pushed out to all channels
- Product images & descriptions saved in one place- just click a box to publish to whatever channel needed
Let’s talk about mobile apps for a minute. At this point almost all retailers have eCommerce, and probably most big box retailers now have their own mobile shopping app. As an independently owned retailer- chances are you probably don’t have your own app yet that you can offer your customers to easily download in the App Store or Google Play.
At this point, you might be asking yourself-
“Why should I offer my own mobile shopping app to my customers?”
Did you know…
With how technology has changed in recent years- it has become easier than ever to launch your own mobile shopping app. Hopefully even your existing retail software provider can offer this to you already and then it can be easily integrated within your existing point of sale and eCommerce software. At Celerant, we offer our retailers mobile shopping apps with the same branding and look-and-feel of their existing Celerant eCommerce website, and of course it comes standard already integrated with the centralized back office software across all channels. But we can talk more about Celerant’s shopping apps in another conversation... for now, let’s get back to the topic of why retailers need a comprehensive digital strategy.
2. Don’t be a Needle in a Haystack
These days, independent retailers need to embrace technology, offer multiple channels and incorporate a full digital strategy to stand out from competition. Creating a beautiful website and launching it is really only the first step. What you do after your site goes live determines how well your site performs and stands out from the rest.
Think about it for a moment- how many eCommerce sites are out there in the worldwide web for your industry? How can your site stand out from so many competitors and get found easily? On top of that, if you are launching a brand new website with a brand new domain, your new site won’t yet have any domain authority with search engines- making it even harder to stand out from your competitors who might have a site live already for years, perhaps.
The answer is Search Engine Optimization, or ongoing SEO Services.
Let’s put this into perspective- would you build a cabin in the middle of the woods, without a road leading to it? NO! And the same applies to websites. SEO is the road that can help lead your customers (both new and existing customers) to your website.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process ranking your website higher on search engines, such as Google and Bing, in order to increase web traffic and conversions. Unlike Google Ads and other paid advertisements, SEO ranks your website organically so users can find your website based on their search terms– meaning you do not pay per click. Users searching for a product/service near them will often see the physical addresses of nearby stores in their search results, helping you increase in-store traffic and sales too.
How does SEO work?
Search engines use a ‘crawler’ to gather all the content they can find on the Internet, and then index all that data. Using a complex algorithm, these search engines match this data to search queries and display a long list of web pages that best match what the user is searching for. The most relevant webpages will rank the highest within the search results.
Why do I need SEO on my website?
It’s easy- you want your website to be on page 1 for search engines, without having to pay to be there with a paid Google Ads Account, cost-per-click campaign as its often also called.
By ranking better on Google (and other search engines), you can:
- Win more “near me” searches for new, local customers
- Find more new customers & sales by casting a wider net on the web
- Get more sales without having to pay per click (in some case over $25 per click!)
- Most importantly- make more money!
We can’t stress enough how important ongoing SEO is for the success of your website. It’s not the only important factor, but it needs to be one important part of your entire digital marketing strategy.
Let’s look at some other retailers who have had huge success thanks to an all-encompassing digital marketing strategy:
3. Consumers Want Virtual Hugs
We talked a lot so far about how your customers shopping patterns have changed these days and where you need to be as a retailer to better serve them. But now let’s switch gears a bit and talk about how their needs have changed, psychologically. Coming now out of the pandemic- after multiple years of being somewhat isolated and dealing with all that they have dealt with (of course this varies by location and even more-so by person) combined with again the younger generation and their newer mindsets- everything has changed!
Today’s consumers are demanding connection and a sense of community. In fact- they are willing to even pay more, when they can get that engaging and personalized experience from you- online.
In addition, the younger generation even searches for products differently than how consumers have in the past. They are searching more on YouTube and TikTok, consuming video content more than ever before, and their buying decisions are impacted significantly by ‘Influencers’ they follow online.
Not only that- but over the past couple years the entire world has had to ‘shift to digital’ in some capacity. What does that mean? All of your customers are getting more promotional emails than EVER- they are getting hit with more digital marketing than EVER BEFORE.
With all of this new digital marketing ‘noise’- how do you get YOUR marketing efforts to stand out?
The answer is personalization.
Let’s think more about this. How are you currently marketing to your customers? Hopefully you are sending out promotional emails to your customers- perhaps through Mail Chimp, Constant Contact or some other email marketing platform. But are you sending out mass emails, blindly to your entire customer list, hoping they click through to your website and make a sale? Or, are you sending out targeted email campaigns pulling valuable customer and sales data from your point of sale and eCommerce platforms?
What Type of Digital Marketer Are You?
If you are like the majority of retailers, your answer is B. And that is an important start of course- but you can significantly increase the success of your promotional emails, by sending personalized emails to the right customer, at the right time. Here is a short, ‘how-to’ video if you want to learn more.
With the right email marketing platform, you can pull your customer and sales data- from both your store and your website and/or shopping app- and you can send more targeted emails based on your customers past purchases and preferences. This will increase your open rates, your click throughs to your site and ultimately- your online sales. This will also help decrease your opt-outs and the chances of any of your customers clicking that dreadful ‘Report Spam’ option, since you will now be sending them emails that are actually meant for them, specifically.
The less email contacts you have opting out and/or reporting your emails SPAM, the higher your email deliverability will be overall for your future emails; it all goes hand-in-hand and effects your overall email performance.
The most impactful point is this-
So again, the question to ask yourself, which category do you fall into? Once you recognize that, then you can determine your best next steps from there.
We talked about a lot of different aspects of digital marketing in this blog- and in future blogs we will dive deeper into each one of these areas, since there really is so much to discuss and learn. But the biggest takeaway for now, should be this…
To be competitive in today’s retail market, you need a FULL digital strategy, otherwise your business simply won’t stand out from the crowd.
- Leverage an innovative point of sale, capable of integrating all online aspects
- Offer eCommerce with responsive design regardless of the device
- Win more “local searches” on Google with SEO for your website
- Get in your customers pockets (literally!) with your own mobile shopping app
- Sell on social media platforms with eCommerce integrations
- Reach new customers entirely with marketplaces integrations
- Enhance your email marketing by sending personalized emails
This might seem like a lot. But the reality is, today, the majority of sales start online, even when they buy in store. And your business needs to be everywhere that your customers already are.
Celerant can help you get there, one step at a time.