We live in the world of iPhones, androids, tablets and apps. Consumers have bought into the fast-paced experiential age and in doing so, they’ve broadened their shopping options internationally, and shortened their attention spans. What’s a brick and morter retailer to do?
Some relate today’s complicated brand/consumer relationship to love, romance and dating. To create a meaningful connection with someone in a fragmented market, you need to make a lasting impression. You must woo. It takes a few dinners, drinks and desserts before you can think about engaging them in a longer term commitment.
For retailers, this means engaging an omni channel retail strategy.
Interlacing your online, mobile and brick and mortar branding, all creates an experience for your customer. Making sure that experience is a consistent one in which they can rely on and be delighted by, builds the perfect platform for them to ultimately feel a part of your brand.
Of course, this philosophy isn’t new. It’s already been embraced in Europe and is gaining speed in the US. Now Canadian retailers are catching on as their US counterparts have seen much success.
And yet there are many retailers out there who are still playing catch up. The question is why, and how can you create a more interactive in-store experience?
Aligning the entire customer experience - online, mobile and in-store is a massive undertaking for any business. Training employees on customer relationships and having an engaging in store experience are key points to the omni-channel strategy. Producing creative for interactive displays, touch screens, VIP cards, having an online merchandising system to streamline consumer wants and needs, inventory management and store familiarity is all a part of this process. It is a huge commitment, but it is critical.
How interactive is interactive?
“Interactive customer experience” is probably one of the most used buzz phrases by retail marketers today. But what does it really mean?
Mark’s Work Warehouse in Edmonton, for example, has created an experience where shoppers can test out first-hand how warm their clothing is in a custom made walk-in freezer within the in-store environment. Customers can even alter how cold they want the experience to be. Although different and out of the box, this type of innovative thinking by retail marketers, gets new and old customers in store and trying on clothing.
Where do you find the budget for this? How and where do you start? With already shrinking marketing and operations budgets, combined with excess inventory issues to deal with, how do you realistically make this happen?
Corporate Trade offers retailers with financial flexibility to create a more engaging experience
Some forward thinking retailers are turning to Corporate Trade to help stretch their retail marketing budgets further. Essentially, Corporate Trade is a sophisticated form of bartering for large multi-million dollar brands. Corporate Trade enables you to partially pay for interactive retail marketing expenses with something other than cash: it could be a product, service or other asset in your business such as real estate or old capital equipment.
One well known North American convenience retailer was undergoing a corporate real estate optimization initiative that left them with thousands of obsolete cash registers.
Through Corporate Trade, they were able to recover the full value of those cash registers – a cash value of 1.3 million dollars, paid for in Trade Credits. Those Trade Credits were then used over time to partially fund their retail marketing and merchandising initiatives.
The bottom line benefit? The CEO recovered a $900,000 loss, while the marketing team gained $1.3 million to their 3-year budget.
Other Corporate Trade case studies can be found here.
So whether it’s a fleet of old cash registers, last season’s excess inventory, or near coded product – you no longer need to look at them as problems. In fact, they could be your smart solution to the Omni Channel Age.
Kyla Francis, Senior Manager Retail Merchandising