What’s Next for Brick-and-Mortar Retailers

It’s been a rough couple of years for traditional retail. Companies like Amazon have upended the retail structure, and as consumers continue to turn to e-commerce, brick-and-mortar retailers must adapt to survive.

To do so, many companies are turning to hot-button tactics like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), simple or even nonexistent payment tactics (hello ApplePay and Amazon Go), and more. However, these strategies are more aspirational than practical, as they require heavy infusions of capital, huge upgrades to existing infrastructure and widespread consumer adoption to be successful.

While retailers work to make these long-term dreams a reality, there are several trends brick-and-mortar retailers can pursue to stay relevant and competitive in the more immediate future:

1. A Focus on Stores as Showrooms

As the purchase process continues to migrate online, we’re seeing brick-and-mortar stores used as a way for consumers to feel and see products before they pull out their phones and make a purchase. This approach works best for categories like furniture, where people are traditionally hesitant to purchase without physically interacting with products.

Examples of this strategy include Apple stores, which focus more on showcasing products and what they can do, or Bonobos’ guideshops, which exist purely as a way for consumers to interact with the web retailers’ goods (you can’t even walk away with any merchandise, but you can order clothing).

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The State of Martech 2017: Why the sudden optimism?

Reviewing our second annual State of Marketing Technology Report, we were struck by how much the space has changed. Based on numbers alone, the number of solutions has ballooned 84 percent from just last year. According to chiefmartec.com, there are now a staggering 3,874 solutions.

Selecting the right solution from this mass of logos reminds me of playing the claw machine – precision is required, but the risk of slipping up is high.

Video courtesy of Picktzar

Most marketers have to make multiple attempts to grab the right CRM, CMS, DMP, etc. Then, the hard work of integrating these solutions begins.

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Seasonality and the Second Screen

Remember the scene in “Back to the Future Part II” where Marty McFly comes home to this picture-in-picture monstrosity on his wall?

Image source: wikia.com

Image source: wikia.com

Like many other predictions in the movie, the six-screen TV falls into the category of “mostly true.” Consumers are watching television with multiple screens, but most have the TV on as they browse on their smartphones or tablets.

From experience, we know browsing multiple devices at once is a common habit, but research shows that second screen viewing is essentially the norm. Accenture’s Digital Video and the Connected Consumer report found that a whopping 87 percent of consumers are using a second screen (ranging from smartphones to laptops) while watching TV.

Traditionally, however, broadcast TV viewership declines in the summer. Unfortunately, the same was true for cable viewership last summer: Nielsen reported that ratings were down by as much as 36 percent as viewers abandoned cable for streaming services (many of them ad-free).

Here, we’re faced with two conflicting trends: viewing with a second screen is up, but traditional TV viewership overall is down. The end result is that fewer eyeballs are fixated on a traditional television screen, and traditional ads are (surprise) no longer a sure bet.

Here’s how marketers can not only compensate for the lack of traditional TV viewership, but also exceed their reach through alternative means this summer:

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What’s more effective in online video: text or dialogue?

Jim Clinton, PhD & Joe Magliano, PhD

In an effort to bring academic findings into the business world, we’ve been reaching out to researchers across the country to share how their areas of expertise affect the PR & digital marketing world. Today, Jim Clinton, PhD and Joe Magliano, PhD of Northern Illinois University share thoughts on visual media.

Whether it’s a 15-second pre-roll ad on YouTube or a 90-second explainer video, marketing professionals all face the challenge of striking the delicate balance between presenting text and/or dialogue alongside images in online video. The goal is to engage the viewer and hope that they will remember the content of the ad and act on it. So when is it justifiable and worth the investment to recruit voice actors to speak scripted dialog in lieu of the more cost-effective means of showing text on the screen?

This blog explores this issue from the perspective of cognitive psychology—an area of psychology that researches how people experience, remember, and generally make sense of the world around them. This area of research has much to say about this issue.

Walter Dill Scott (1869-1955) was one of the first psychologists to apply psychological principles of persuasion to advertising.  He showed that using direct commands in language (e.g., “buy this product”) affects consumer behavior. These commands are particularly effective when accompanied by images, but only when it is easy to understand and process the language and its relation to the image.  Right now, you may have a strong desire to “Get Duffed!”

shutterstock_338889278

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C3 Conference: The Art, Science and Strategy of Reaching your Customers Organically

As marketing manager for Walker Sands, I’m constantly looking for opportunities to expand our in house knowledge with the latest in B2B marketing and technology. Marketing has evolved into a full digital offering and Walker Sands offers an integrated, full house –in house solution. I’m a firm believer in practicing what we preach. So, from SEO to data studies, we’re running campaigns to continually develop our own brand awareness and test new concepts before introducing them to clients.C3_banner

It’s with this mentality that I’m excited to attend the annual digital marketing conference C3 on October 28th – 29th in New York where 1250+ marketing executives, online marketers, content marketers and search specialists will gather to share their companies’ most successful earned media strategies.

The agenda is jam packed with sessions focused on trending topics including “The Power of Video in Building Brands” from Mark McMaster of Google and “Creating Content, Conversations and Community on a National Scale” from Teach for America.  A final panel, “The Fab Four: Google, Pinterest, Microsoft and Facebook,” will conclude the two day conference.

As a marketer, I love to test new concepts as they emerge, but I don’t think you have to reinvent the wheel each time you do. With that, I’m looking forward to learning how our challenges align with those discussed by presenters and attendees, and the tactics they’ve implemented to overcome them.  Additionally, I’ll be using the conference to kickstart our own strategy and planning for 2016 – so I look forward to fresh, creative ideas to enhance those discussions.

Check back here in the next few weeks for my takeaways and learnings from C3!

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Visit the Walker Sands website. We specialize in PR and marketing services for technology solution providers and B2B companies. Walker Sands Digital offers a wide array of digital marketing solutions and helps firms to get the most from their online presence.
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