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Don’t Write Off Bricks and Mortar Yet!

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This isn’t a pep talk on why stores shouldn’t despair. It’s true that online shopping is growing by leaps and bounds, and if stores can’t adapt to changing times, they will suffer the consequences. But this is a call to action.

Stores have an opportunity to really sell their wares and tell a story to the shopper. One of the ways to expedite this is right at the shelf. A panel hosted by Digital Screenmedia Association spoke to the fact that the in-store experience should provide a “sense of utility, community, meaning, and experience.”

A shopper’s conversion to buying a product can be encouraged by dynamic media at shelf level. Creating messages that emphasize brand identity, its benefits, and/or a special offer should be something that stores take advantage of. By appealing to consumers’ senses, values and emotions at point of purchase, marketers can make that necessary conversion to buying a reality.

By placing digital messaging at shelf height, brands can offer several elements and messages to consumers to help them make the decision to buy more compelling. It’s all about engaging, informing and enhancing the shopping experience in a more convenient and useful fashion.

Procter & Gamble coined the phrase “first moment of truth,” as this conveys what happens and engages the shopper at shelf level. Retail media in the marketing mix has grown and has replaced broadcast ad spending, as effective POP ad displays.

In previous decades, the thinking was that the brand and store was the center of the shopping universe. But now, successful marketers accept that it is the consumer that is at the center, with brand diversity and the communications and availability of information about it driving the purchase decision.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the president of Shakitani Lacroix Design Inc., notes that 75% of the purchase decision is being made at the store shelf, but 90% of marketing investments are still being made outside the store. This imbalance signifies how much retailers aren’t paying attention to the power they actually have in the store. While outside-the-store advertising may increase brand perception in the minds of consumers, it doesn’t necessarily drive sales in-store.

“Creating digital at-purchase moments is one of the most effective ways to influence purchase decision in-store,” says Marcos Terenzio, director, digital experience, Shikatani Lacroix. Many of these digital displays are not only cost-effective, but maximize shelf space while creating interest and a sense of immediacy and impulse purchase.

Another way to spur sales is the ever-increasing need for great customer service, which still wins the day at a physical store. I recently bought new phones at Best Buy. The big plus here was that the store experience won my loyalty, as the sales associate who spent two hours with me was well-informed and knew both the product and service provider policies inside and out.

While there were no downsides for me personally, I could see there were few salespeople like him with that kind of knowledge and expertise. This is something that Best Buy needs more of. With more people heading to Best Buy than any other brick-and-mortar electronics provider (largely due to the fact that their physical competitors are disappearing), they need to provide ample staffing to accommodate customer needs.

But here’s another missed opportunity stores like Best Buy aren’t addressing: Engaging and following up with customers after their purchase. In the past, Best Buy has emailed surveys to shoppers who completed a purchase. When this didn’t occur, I went out of my way to go on the specific store’s website to write about the positive experience I had.

There are lots of opportunities for brick-and-mortar to carve out a niche in the race for sales. Between utilizing technology in the store, employing consistent omni-channel communication and providing great customer service, stores can gain an edge that pure online retail can’t.

TAGS: retail, retail trends, retailers, omni-channel,
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