Marketing And The Mobile Media Revolution

Tips On How Marketers Can Capitalise On The Growing Push For Mobility

Indians cannot live without their smartphones, and the unprecedented growth witnessed by the country’s app market underlines their love for their mobile devices. According to a recent report by App Annie, India outpaced the US in terms of the app market growth in 2016 with more than 6 billion app downloads from Google Play. The country also occupied top spot when it came to the time spent on mobiles; users from India spent nearly 145 billion hours on their Android devices, nearly 35 billion hours more than the second-placed Brazil. These statistics are music to the ears of Indian marketers.

With budget smartphones and extremely cheap 4G/LTE data tariffs having become the norm, India as a nation has leapfrogged over the ‘Personal Computer’ revolution to climb directly onto the mobile-first bandwagon. This presents unprecedented prospects to create better and more result-oriented mobile-driven marketing initiatives. But how can this massive marketing opportunity be realised? Here are a few tips that can help Indian marketers in capitalising on the growing push for mobility and maximising their brand salience:

Customer Experience, Data, And Personalisation

In today’s interconnected, digitally-empowered age, customers have asserted the role of brand evangelists who can make or break a brand’s fortune through word-of-mouth publicity. This is what makes customer experience the top priority for marketers. Gathering user feedback through messages and app notifications can help in identifying common consumer pain-points and addressing them for an enhanced end-customer experience.

The importance of personalisation in enabling a superior brand experience cannot be stressed enough, either. Smartphones today have become repositories of constant real-time information pertaining to all aspects of their users’ lives, including their likes, preferences, and requirements. The onus falls on marketers to extract the right data from this vast database and to analyse it to generate an accurate profile for every customer, which can help in creating highly-tailored sales funnels that nudge customers to commit to purchase. Brands such as Amazon and Netflix have already demonstrated how creating personalised brand-customer interactions that meet and exceed consumer expectations can result in greater brand affinity and maximise loyalty and sales.

Content And Gaming To Drive Maximum Consumer Outreach

Marketing is innovative selling, and content is right at the heart of it. With content that appeals to its target audience, content marketing helps brands in driving more traffic and influencing conversions whilst also generating and sustaining visibility and consumer mindshare in the long run. But with mobiles fast replacing PCs and laptops as the first-screen for an increasing percentage of consumers, there is a need to optimise content to make it more suitable for mobile-based consumption. Ensuring their content marketing initiatives are designed to be accessed on smartphone screens through either apps or web-based browsers can help marketers in generating better impact for their respective brands.

More And Better: Driving Engagement Through Video-Based Marketing

A picture is said to be worth a thousand words, but nothing beats video when it comes to creating a marketing buzz. According to a report by HubSpot, videos featuring products/services can positively influence the purchase decision of nearly 64% online shoppers. Another study by Simply Measured indicated that video-based content is shared 1200% more than the combined shares accumulated by links and text-based content. This gives marketers the perfect opportunity to increase their customer outreach through quirky branded as well as informative ‘how-to’ videos.

Geolocation And The Rise Of Beacons For Cross-Channel Marketing

Geolocation-based marketing has been in vogue for a while now, allowing brands around the world to leverage technology to promote their physical offerings. With the number of smartphone owners in the country expected to cross 720 million by 2020, Indian marketers have an unparalleled opportunity to tap into the power of mobile for cross-channel initiatives. Geolocation-based marketing will enable marketers to push customised in-app offers to prospective consumers in a particular geographical area, thereby driving greater footfall to brick-and-mortar outlets. Proximity beacons have emerged as another medium for marketers to engage prospective customers in the physical realm, enabling more relevant and contextual marketing for a more seamless consumer experience.

Programmatic Marketing For Better ROI

Expected to comprise 80% of the total marketing spend by 2018, programmatic marketing is the next stage of evolution for traditional media buying, marketing, and advertising. It leverages consumer insights and algorithm-based approaches to create highly-effective marketing initiatives that can target the right customer through the right channel at the right time. Smartphones, with their ubiquitous, always-connected proposition, are perfect for marketers looking to roll out programmatic campaigns which can drive greater personalisation and better precision for better ROI on marketing spends.

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5 Predictions For the Future of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is a constantly shifting process. With the rise and implementation of innovative technologies, digital marketing has been getting better on a daily basis. However, with all these changes, modern businesses are constantly trying to keep up with the shifting medium for attracting potential customers.

If you want to stay ahead of the pack when it comes to digital marketing, you need to make well-informed predictions. Check out these five predictions for the future of digital marketing that businesses should expect in the near future:

Customized Websites for Unique Customers

Customization has become an integral part of quality marketing. Soon, website owners will setup their pages in a way that will be specifically tailored to particular users. These fully personalized websites may completely change how people interact with the internet.

These websites will be monitoring several factors about a visitor, like the previous web pages a visitor has been to, cookies, and time spent on such pages. All these factors will be used to make the visitor find the exact thing he/she is looking for. Websites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Google are already using personalization, so this prediction isn’t too far off.

Cost Increases

Current digital marketing costs are fairly low compared to other forms of traditional marketing like TV ads, which can cost you several thousand dollars if you’re lucky. But with social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, digital marketing costs are closer to free than anything else.

All this is set to change in the future as more and more business are beginning to embrace the concept of digital marketing. A big percentage of millennials, around 84 percent, claim that they don’t trust traditional advertising and this may be the shift businesses need to turn to digital marketing, which will ultimately drive up the costs.

More Video

Most online digital marketing platforms have embraced video ads to increase the efficacy of online advertising campaigns. This trend will likely increase as video is expected to completely dominate the marketing world in a few short years.

While video has become an integral part of marketing strategies across the country, the future is going to be a video paradise, filled with moving advertisements that are interactive, short, and incredibly entertaining.

Location Based Marketing

The rise of location based advertising has been an exciting ride for startups. Almost every app that is downloaded asks for location permissions and this for a noble reason. Many more business and brands are beginning to improve the power of their advertising efforts and location focused campaigns are next on the list.

Future digital marketing is going to certainly turn to be location based as technology improves and allows companies to use beacons to really engage their customers on the go.

Going Mobile

The number of people using smartphones to purchase and engage has increased tremendously over the past few years. Digital marketers, in their quest to reach as many people as possible, will craft ways of specifically targeting users of these devices. From mobile optimization to on-the-go apps designed for mobile, the smartphone revolution will hit digital marketing more than any other field.

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5 Ways to Create In-Store Experiences That Drive Traffic and Sales

5 Ways to Create In-Store Experiences That Drive Traffic and Sales

In light of the new year, here’s one question you should think about: are you planning to bring anything new to the in-store experience? If your answer is “no” then 2017 could be a rough one for your physical stores.

Some of the biggest that challenges you’ll face in 2017 will be around driving foot traffic and keeping shoppers engaged in your store. Why? Because competition in the retail industry is fiercer than ever. Between ecommerce sites and subscription services, consumers have plenty of choices when it comes to where they spend their time and money.

To stay competitive, you need to give them compelling reasons to come down to your store and shop.

Looking for ways to do just that? Below are 5 tips and examples to get you started.

1. Make sure your physical and digital stores work together

If you have an online store (and you totally should), see to it that your ecommerce site works hand in hand with your physical location(s). Remember, modern consumers are using multiple channels and devices in their shopping journeys. Aside from shopping in-store, they’re using their phones, computers, and tablets to research and buy products.

For this reason, it’s important to not just have a presence on different channels, but you need to enable customers to shop across physical and digital channels seamlessly. Here’s how:

Implement click-and-collect

Click-and-collect, a service that lets shopper buy online and pick-up in-store isn’t just convenient for customers, but it also drives traffic and sales in your physical stores. This past holiday season is a testament to that, with nearly a third of shoppers opting for in-store pickup. Not only that but according to the ICSC, 69 percent of shoppers who went in-store to pick up their orders ended up buying additional items.

So how exactly can you implement click-and-collect? The first step is to have a centralized retail solution that lets you manage orders, sales, and customers from one system. Or, if you have separate systems for your physical and digital stores, then you need to find a way to integrate the two programs.

Whatever the case, talk to you solutions provider and ask them about their omnichannel retail offerings.

Vend tip

screenshot-2017-01-09-22-04-17We’ve released a range of improvements and new features — including click-and-collect — in Vend over the past year. NRF is the perfect opportunity to experience this for yourself and get all your Vend-related questions answered. We’d love to meet you!

You can find us during the show at our partner booths — Star Micronics (booth # 3731) and SpacePole (booth # 1413), or if you’d like to book a meeting in advance you can do so right now.

Interested in attending NRF but haven’t registered? If you’re a retailer, you can grab your free tickets at he EXPO Hall. Want to attend as a non-retailer? Register and use the discount code “BIGSocial20” for 20% off your ticket!

Hope to see you there!

Bring your website in-store

Consider enhancing the brick-and-mortar experience by allowing shoppers to browse your online shop in your physical location. This can be a great offering, especially if you have multiple stores or warehouses and don’t carry all your stock in one place.

Enabling people to browse your ecommerce site in-store lets them see products or variants that you may not have on-site. If they see something they like, you can just have your associates place an order for them and ship it to their home.


Have a look at what Nike is doing. In some of its stores, the sportswear retailer has large touch-screens so customers can browse and order products on the spot.

2. Redefine the checkout experience

Long lines at checkout are big a turn-off and can result in customers abandoning their purchases. Research has found that Americans will abandon a checkout line and leave a store without making a purchase after eight minutes of waiting in a checkout line. British shoppers won’t even wait around that long. They’ll walk out after just six minutes.”

Don’t let long lines affect your bottom line. If you’re dealing with lengthy queues at checkout, take immediate steps to speed things up. Below are a few suggestions:

Always be ready with additional registers 

Are long lines slowing you down? Open new registers and make sure you always have enough cashiers on staff to serve shoppers.

To make things even easier, consider using iPads as your POS systems. That’s how The Borough Kitchen (a homeware retailer) combats long lines in-store. “At peak times…we can add a new till instantly by switching on another iPad. That just wouldn’t work with a traditional till system,” says founders David Caldana & Justin Kowbel.

Another benefit of using an iPad is that it lets you untether the checkout process. Rather than being stuck behind the cash wrap, you can quickly take the checkout process to the customer and ring up sales from anywhere in the store.

Consider in-app checkout

Looking for a more innovative and tech-forward way to combat long checkout lines? Have a look at what Sam’s Club is doing.


The warehouse store has a mobile app called Scan and Go which lets customers scan and pay for their purchases within the app itself. All they need to do is use their phone’s camera to scan product barcodes, pay for their purchases using the Scan and Go app, and show their e-receipt to a Sam’s Club associate on their way out.

No doubt this the app makes shopping easy and convenient, and it hints at what the future of in-store checkout might look like. Granted, this solution isn’t right for every retailer (especially if you don’t have a mobile app or an active user base) but it’s worth keeping on your radar.

3. Provide “retailtainment.”

As we mentioned in our 2017 Retail Trends and Predictions report, we’re expecting “retailtainment” to pervade the industry. Retailtainment, as the name suggests, is the fusion of retail and entertainment — an effort on the part of retailers to provide customers with fun, unique experiences that elevate shopping above anything it’s previously been.

What kind of retailtainment should you offer? That depends on your store and customers. In some cases, bringing in celebrities or industry professionals could do the trick.

Last year, for example, Walmart stores in Little Rock Arkansas brought in professional bullfighters to sign autographs in-store. The stunt not only attracted a ton of foot traffic, but it got Walmart plenty of coverage from the local press.

Retailtainment could also mean giving people something they don’t see every day. Consider what clothing store New York & Co. did. In 2015, the NY&C store in Cerritos, California used real people instead of mannequins in their window displays.

The attraction got passers-by to stop and actually check out the store, because, let’s face it, how often do you see real-life “mannequins”?

4. Promote a sense of Community

If it makes sense for your business and customers, find ways to bring people together in your store. Invite customers and community members to events where they can learn new things, interact with like-minded individuals, or simply get a break from staring at their computer or phone all day.

A great example of a retailer that’s mastered community building is The Workroom, a craft store in Toronto. In addition to selling fabric and other supplies, The Workroom also holds sewing classes and workshops. These events instill a sense of community in people and they’re one of the reasons why shoppers keep coming back.

“One of the biggest things for me was the community aspect,” says owner Karyn Valino. “[I wanted to have] a place where people who are crafty can meet other people and be surrounded by stuff that inspires them.”

Do note that building a community isn’t just about holding events. Community building requires cultivating real relationships with customers and communicating with them on a regular basis.

At The Workroom, Karyn says they gather information from customers who purchase their products and attend their events. They also send newsletters regularly to keep people in the loop and to gather feedback.

According to Karyn, doing these things helped her get to know customers better. “It really helps to have such a close relationship with my customers. I know exactly what they like, and because of that, I’m able to make more educated decisions regarding purchasing, planning classes, and testing new ideas.

5. Create immersive experiences

Want your store to attract shoppers and make a long-lasting impression? Create a store environment that envelops customers and grabs their full attention.

Some retailers are doing this through technology. Shoe retailer TOMS, for instance, deployed virtual reality (VR) headsets in 100 of its stores to enable shoppers to experience the brand in an entirely unique way.

TOMS’ in-store VR program allowed customers to take a virtual trip to Peru where they would get to see the company’s One for One giving campaign in action. In doing so, TOMS wasn’t just able to drive awareness towards its charitable efforts, but it also gave people a brand experience they won’t soon forget.

Another retailer doing a great job with immersive experiences is IKEA. Last year, the homeware retailer opened The Dining Club, a temporary pop-up store in which guests were given a chance to run their own restaurant.

According to Ikea,”diners will orchestrate an intimate foodie experience in a homely kitchen environment to mimic an actual dinner party, but one where diners can host many more guests than usual.”

Guests are taken into The Dining Club where they cooked meals and entertained friends. It was a whole new experience that allowed them to enjoy good food and company (while being surrounded by IKEA products at the same time).

Make 2017 the year you reinvent the in-store experience

As you kick off the new year, resolve to enhance the in-store experience. Ask yourself — or even better, ask your customers — what would make shoppers come into your stores? Do you need to offer omnichannel services? Should you work on community building? The only way to find out is to get to know your customers and try new things.

Will it be easy? Not likely. But doing so is critical if you want to thrive 2017 and beyond.

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5 Ways to Create In-Store Experiences That Drive Traffic and Sales

Digitize The Physical To Win At Business

Digitize The Physical To Win At Business

Should we even call anything “digital” anymore?

Senior marketing professionals love writing op-ed pieces calling for the death of using the word “digital” in front of anything. “Let’s not call it Digital Marketing anymore.” The sentiment is a pragmatic one: “everything is digital!” The sentiment is a romantic one: “we’re not doing it, but if we kill that saying, we can claim that we do it all.” It’s a smart play. Brands do believe that a strong marketing agency should have strong digital marketing chops. As much as specialized shops continue to grow and be acquired, clients would much prefer one centralized agency (full-service much?). And, the battle rages on between specialized shops and full-service agencies. It’s clear where my heart lies: I believe in digital. I believe that full-service is a hard promise to deliver on. The battle rages on.

But what about brands? How should brands think about their physical products and services as digital channels persist?

For years (and this ideology was a cornerstone of the thinking in my second business book, CTRL ALT Delete, from 2013), I have been saying that one of the biggest missed opportunity for brands today is the shift away from an advertising-driven marketing mindset to a digital product/service-driven marketing mindset. Instead of advertising to consumers, create digital products, services, applications and tools that can add value to your consumer’s experiences. An app that is so valuable that a consumer would download it, use it (with frequency), have it on their smartphone homescreen and tell others about it. It’s a tall order. It’s not obvious. It’s an opportunity. This thinking can be extended. Let’s say that you’re a retail brand. Why just sell physical goods online? Why not create digital assets that you can sell as well? Why would a major department store not sell digital goods and digital subscription services online as well?

Every move Amazon makes.

There is no doubt that Amazon does a lot of this right. They are digital, but will launch physical stores. They are digital, but will launch a POS system to bridge that and remove friction at the retail level. With that, have you seen their Dash buttons? When launched, everyone thought it was some kind of April Fool’s joke. Amazon Dash Buttons are physical buttons (hardware) that consumers can place all over their home/office. Dash buttons allow customers to reorder an individual product that they are running out of (Laundry detergent woes? Place a Tide button next to your machine. No more condoms? Place a Trojan button in the top drawer of your night-table. Need more snacks? Place a Slim Jim button in the kitchen pantry). Since launching in 2015, over 200 brands are available, and consumer are using it.

Digitize the physical.

While it may seem obvious, Amazon is now testing a digital version of the Dash button. The buttons are customizable. They can be re-arranged. They can appear in both the Web and mobile versions of Amazon. They can be created automatically by Amazon, based on what the consumer orders on a more frequent basis, and added to the customization view. These virtual Dash buttons could be created for millions of products on the fly. Dash buttons could even be created as an option during the check-out phase. Think about a dedicated Amazon Dash button dashboard — as a homescreen default. In theory, these could prove to be so successful that it might force them to stop developing the physical Dash button program. Amazon is thinking — deeply — about how to digitize physical products and services to increase their business, loyalty and service to their customers.

What this does?

  • They make it easier to buy from Amazon.
  • They make it easier for repurchases.
  • They remove all friction.
  • They remove the need for shopping lists or stressing over the day-to-day items to run our households and offices.
  • They encourage impulse buys.
  • They make it work through customization and merging both consumer behavior with their own knowledge of purchases.
  • They will use this to encourage more usage of their Subscribe & Save model.
  • They grab a consumer’s attention.
  • They are an engine of branding for the brands that are taking part (they look like little action-oriented banner ads).

It’s not just for Amazon. It’s for your brand too. Digitize your physical goods to win more at marketing.

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National Retail Federation Influencer On 6 Things Retail Is Doing Right (And Wrong)

Ask global retail consultant Wendy Liebmann to name the retail industry’s person of the year, and she’ll say it’s the one holding the credit card.

Retail is shifting to a shopper-based model, the way she sees it. And those merchants that cling to the retail-based model of operations and efficiencies not only fail to view their stores from the eyes of their customers; they risk not seeing any customers at all.

“The reality is when people have so many places to shop, retailers cannot afford to just look at themselves in the mirror,” said Liebmann, founder and CEO of WSL Strategic Retail, a global retail consultancy. “They really have to build their proposition around: ‘What does that person who buys from me want from me?’”

She provided a familiar example — the placement of milk at the supermarket. By tradition, it sits in the farthest corner of the store so shoppers are forced to pass through several product-laden aisles. “The last thing the mother wants to do with two kids, one screaming, is walk to the back of the store,” said Liebmann, who was named one of the five retail influencers of 2017 by the National Retail Federation.

Fortunately for that mother, there are other options. She can quickly grab milk at the gas station or drugstore. Translation: Retailers can no longer get away with the model upon which they built their empires.

Those Who Put Shoppers First Win

Headlines about store closings and operational changes make this evident. In many ways, what will separate the retail victors from the others comes down to a few key practices. Liebmann categorizes them under three activities retailers are doing right, and three they are still doing wrong.

3 Things Retailers Are Doing Right Today

  1. Putting away the operational mirror: Retailers that stop examining their own needs and instead view their business through the lens of their shoppers will pull ahead, Liebmann said. They do so by determining how their retail proposition is meeting the needs of the shopper, rather than how it fulfills their own operational needs. In short: They think about the shopper’s life first and foremost, and then apply that to the operational model.
  2. Removing the seams: This means connecting with shoppers in every way shoppers want. The known term is omnichannel, and it requires a great deal of agility. Good retailers cater to the consumer, whether she wants to visit the store, shop online or order first and pick up curbside. “If you don’t allow her to shop at 11 o’clock at night when the kids have gone to bed, that can be the point at which she chooses another merchant,” Liebmann said. “Before there were all these choices, this didn’t matter. The power was in the hands of the retailers and the brands.”
  3. Investing in people: A key to retail success is ensuring the best-suited staff is appointed for each customer touch point — physically, by chat or online. “That personal connection … that’s the hidden juice that makes [retail brands] really successful,” Liebmann said. For example, Costco supports the notion that even in a big-box store with cement floors, the power of personal interactions resonates, from the way the shelves are stocked to checkout.

3 Things Retailers Are (Still) Doing Wrong

  1. Store-ied history: Many retailers still make the mistake of thinking retail is a real estate game, when new stores are no longer necessary for growth. The fact is there are too many stores, as The Limited made clear by recently announcing it would shutter all 250 locations and operate online only. “I remember when we were talking about the ‘Gapification’ of America,” Liebmann said. “All of a sudden it was like the commodification of retail. Obviously digital is a great way to reach people without having to open more real estate.”
  2. Placing efficiency above necessity: While retail does require efficient operations, merchants should not focus solely on being efficient operators. “If all I’m doing is saying my [profit and loss statement] is about putting the merchandise where it is most efficient for me so it can be restocked and rehung, and having so many registers open or so many staff [members] on the floor at some times of the day because it is more efficient to me, then I lose today,” she said. Thanksgiving Day sales are a good example, because they don’t actually address an expressed customer need.
  3. Not breathing humanity into digital: Online interactions should be as human as those that occur in the store. Unfortunately, Liebmann said, some retailers still think they can get digital right with far too few people. But why? Online employees are still expected to answer questions and fulfill orders. She pointed to the model of giving its staff the training and freedom necessary to talk to customers as long as needed. In return, it gets a lot of unconditional loyalty. “You are investing in happiness, but really you are investing in the people you have,” she said.

And when it comes down to what shoppers really want in these post-recession years, it is happiness, Liebmann said.

“We’re seeing this very different kind of yearning — for stability, less stress, greater well-being,” she said. “The competitive environment has changed. It’s not just about the other guy selling things against you; it’s about the other guy selling this set of values.”

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Is It Time to Redefine ‘Local’ Marketing?

It has been exactly a year since I penned my last column. At the time I was suffering from exactly the issues facing our industry; vendor companies and marketers had simplified “local” to mean the Google Map Pack. I was simply tired of spinning what has become a commoditized approach to a monolithic product. While I sat on the sidelines this past year, I took the opportunity to dig back into my study of brands, locality, mobile and consumers.

Local marketing communication has always fascinated me.  The fact that consumers of discrete geographies use differing approaches based on locality, media dynamics and linguistics when shopping for products and services. For example, if you are selling a device that protects your home from theft in the North or West, you call it a “Security System.” However if you are selling that same device down South, you refer to it as “Burglar Alarm.” Layer on simple findings like the above with the differences in mobile vs. desktop usage by region with preferred purchase mode (e-commerce vs. bricks and mortar stores) and startling findings begin to paint a picture of opportunity to rethink a local go-to-market strategy.

Yet as I survey most major brands, I see little or no differentiation of strategy or execution across local markets. In fact, we now have examples of how a single national approach has damaged brands like Macy’s.  Macy’s was a once leading retailer that was highly differentiated by individual market. Lee Peterson in a recent article that was published on pretty much sums up what led to the decline and the missed opportunity:

“Decades of distinct market knowledge ended up devalued and then simply disappeared, rolled up into a singular corporate branding and buying approach. But the forces of finance pushed for chain-wide savings ahead of doing something that might have helped the category: Staying closer than ever to shoppers. In effect, Macy’s stopped doing the one thing it was good at doing better than anyone else — something that might have saved it from obsolescence during tough times, from recessions to Amazon’s looming dominance in e-commerce.”

This is a pattern that has developed in many industries based on the mistaken belief that a singular approach is more cost effective and will deliver the same or even increasing sales results. In the incomparable words of a newly elected world leader: “WRONG.” Local targeting requires a local focus.

What Was Old is New Again
We have reached a pivot point where local market nuances and differences can create definable opportunity. I am not saying that the age of the big box retail or e-commerce portal are over, but if a brand does a better job at leveraging local marketing it can create a competitive advantage and differentiation point. The key is to separate traditional thinking from single strategy tactics and channels into integrated and tailored market specific plans based on defined or researched consumer behavior. A great integrated local strategy looks sort of like “Intent Based” marketing on steroids.

Required key points of understanding of ‘individual market’ dynamics:

  • Keyword/phrase lexicons
  • Media consumption of awareness media
  • Mode of directional media consumption (mobile vs. desktop vs. voice based searching)
  • Selection criteria (attributes vs. location)
  • Preferred purchase venue (e-com vs. in-store)

Armed with these types of insights the brand can then develop local/regionally tailored campaigns that leverage local market nuances and yield higher conversion rates.

Is Geo-Targeted Media the Local Approach?
Geo-targeting ads on Google’s network, Facebook, et cetera, can certainly be a start of a local approach, but they should not be the only focus. One reason: geo-targeting is not always 100% accurate. For example a desktop search for “Plumber Redding” returns geo-targeted results for both Redding, Connnecticut, and Redding, California, even though my location information is known to Google (Connecticut):


Additionally, highly localized media properties that are hyperlocal in focus can in some cases offer more cost-effective and efficient (less competition) advertising options.

I often hear of complaints that brands are being priced out of Google and other top portal sites. A good hedging strategy against escalating ad cost is to expand the venues that a brand considers in their ad plan. Interestingly, my firm has researched in excess of 20,000 locally focused hyperlocal websites that often provide ad placements that can generate sales leads at a fraction of the cost of trying to geo-target larger portal sites. Many of these hyperlocal sites’ advertisers are limited to local ‘mom and pop’ type businesses sold locally by a media rep. This absence of brand advertising can provide a distinct opportunity to stand out as a branded option away from other brand competitors.

The Bad News
A true local approach is harder work than simply geo-targeting ad placements. It requires specialized tools that can research media options and conduct ROI comparisons in near real-time. Programmatic platforms that focus solely on hyperlocal media options are just beginning to emerge. So today it takes a balance of manual and automated effort to tap the full potential of an integrated local media strategy/plan.

The good news is that employing an integrated local approach pays dividends in the cost effectiveness of lead generation. Also, if a brand markets via franchises or local dealer/agent networks, the relationship with the field organization improves as they begin to feel and experience localized ad support in their specific markets on the media venues they are most familiar with.

Finally, by tuning media venues and ad messaging to local market nuances a brand can sell more by being better in tune with the specific marketplace.

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Technologies That Will Revolutionize Online Retail

Customer Experience quality triggers eCommerce trends. It is the most competitive area through which eCommerce brands are trying to distinguish themselves from the lot and earn brand loyalty for a longer and stronger business run.

With players like Amazon setting benchmarks in customer experience, right from same-day delivery to drone-delivery testing, there are a lot more trends that could become a norm for eCommerce players by the end of the decade. Here are some of the interesting eCommerce trends that will come our way by 2020.

1. Virtual Trials will replace Showroom Experience in Fashion

Augmented reality-based trails will become common in retail fashion outlets, limiting stock only to warehouses or stocking rooms. The pleasure of going for a garment trial will be turned digital with the help of AR.

Result: Space saved but not at the cost of conventional retail shopping experience.

2. In-App Messaging will help Brands connect with Consumers in a more personalised manner

A majority of online retailers have already turned or are turning to mobile apps to reach out to customers but, the fact is, user engagement across apps is still a major challenge even for companies that have adopted a mobile strategy earlier. In-app messaging is one of the eCommerce trends to follow for multi-vendor marketplace websites and apps.

Result: A closer understanding of customer behavior helps in knowing what’s important to them to leverage on successful opportunities.

3. Beacons to connect the dots in Omni-Channel experience

Suppose you have both a marketplace website and a retail store. Customers who jump across multiple mediums are likely to use online medium for placing orders and pick up products from the retail store. Such customers can be targeted with additional offers during their retail store visit as a part of extending their omnichannel experience.

Result: Seamless brand experience, personalization and opportunities to upsell and cross sell.

Now, let’s move on to the practices and adoptions which heavy duty eCommerce websites like multi-vendor marketplaces and exclusive eCommerce stores will have to implement by 2020.

4. The rise in number of Customer Touchpoints

With the emergence of multiple devices like wearables, Smart TVs, connected appliances, and much more, the touch points through which customers can reach an eCommerce brand have increased.

Result: An increased level of shopping convenience and brands can study which channel is effective in driving sales.

5. The sharing and renting trend in Travel will infiltrate other domains

One of the top eCommerce trends will be the sharing and renting idea that has been globalized by some players like AirBnB into other domains, mainly hardware. This will have a negative impact on the hardware manufacturing and selling business but the fact is, businesses will have to face this stiffness soon.

Result: Shoppers can save money by renting or swapping instead of owning.

6. Online Stores will get physical with showcases for winning Customers’ trust

Shoppers have more than enough options from exclusive web stores and marketplace websites but you must first earn their trust to garner healthy conversion rates. The question is how?

Physical stores created by online brands for the sole purpose of providing a glimpse of the product face-to-face will be one of the top 10 eCommerce trends by 2020.

Result: Win customers with your showcase stores and turn them into brand evangelists forever.

7. Pop-Up stores to help Manufacturers better

Popup stores are set to catapult sales and brand reach of manufacturers. As popup stores demand less storage space without a need for maintaining and managing it for long-term, manufacturers and private-label retailers can improve their sales through this practice.

Result: Added advantage for manufacturers in the retail eCommerce market in the coming years

8. ‘Click and Collect’ will help in facing order fulfillment challenges

Order fulfillment challenges of online retailers, especially hefty multi-vendor marketplace websites will be taken care by a ‘Click and collect’ model. With a few players like Amazon leading by example, it will become a one of the highly adopted eCommerce trends by 2020 with more brands perfecting the art. However, same-day delivery will also become a must-have factor for brands.

Result: Less investment of logistics and deliveries with increased order fulfillment.

9. UX improvements will help in better conversions

User experience will be a deciding factor for brands to cash in on a customer’s mood to buy. Web and mobile apps with great user experience will play a significant role in reducing cart abandonments and app uninstalls. Mobile apps that lead to products and carts with swipes, drags and taps actions will be the breadwinners.

Result: The smoother and more connected the screen transitions are, the better conversions will be.

10. The Social world will probe commerce

Social media platforms where users are available in abundance, will come up with their own marketplaces to leverage their rich user bases. Additionally, their insights over user behavior and preferences will help social marketplaces provide more personalized suggestions.

Result: Online retail brands have a highly equipped channel to help them reach their potential customers.

Originally published in SiteProNews