Use of Innovative Marketing Technologies by Retailers
In an effort to differentiate themselves in a highly commoditized market place, retailers are adopting emerging technology trends to transform the retail experience. With the incredible growth in e-commerce and the number of tech-savvy shoppers increasing day by day, retailers are finding (in high-tech) innovative ways to market their products and services. E-commerce did not replace the traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Instead store-fronts have become an integral part of this technology-driven retail experience.
Here are a few examples how the latest technology is helping retailers to market their physical and digital stores:
Virtual Reality (VR)
The first Virtual Reality Department Store opened in May 2016, as a partnership between Myer, the iconic Australian brand, and eBay. VR headsets allow shoppers to have an immersive shopping experience. Customers can browse 12,500 items, zoom, and view them in virtual 3D.
The fact that VR is more interactive, immersive and engaging as compared to other marketing tactics, has allowed retailers to employ storytelling in novel ways. VR has proven to be an effective marketing tool for all kinds of retail goods. For example, at Lowe’s hardware store, you can stand in your own future kitchen that was designed for you minutes ago. Nike has launched its 360 degree virtual reality soccer experience to checkout their new soccer cleats.
Boursin, a soft cheese retailer created a VR video that received the Masters of Marketing Award in 2015. The video provides a 360 VR experience by taking the viewer on an adventure inside the fridge, where you move from champagne, chocolate and vegetables to finally land on Boursin cheese.
RFID chips aren’t new; they have been in use for some time. They have been used for security in retail against shoplifting. But Radio Frequency Identification is not limited to this single use in retail. It expedites inventory tracking; Zara store was able to decrease the time required to conduct physical inventory down to 15%. When customers pay through cards, the RFID data can be linked to the customer’s purchase, allowing retailers to map consumer behavior. This move means timely and better product availability and higher customer satisfaction.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
In the world of business, the phrase data is king rings true. Omnichannel retailing allows retailers to connect with customers both online and offline. The value of such customers is thirty percent greater than single channel customers. Retailers are collecting massive amounts of customer behavior, shopping habits, purchase, and online actions data and then processing it through machine learning to better understand customer needs and demands and creating a predictive analysis for upcoming shopping seasons. AI chatbots are the latest fad and are reigning 2016, making it possible for customers to message and shop with an AI assistant. Another popular use of AI is in creating differentiated, exciting, authentic marketing such as product descriptions, solution overviews, and customer use cases.
Beacons utilize proximity-based marketing programs, serving as a means to provide personalized messages, deals, and assistance to customers in real time. As soon as the customer’s store app gets connected to the brick-and-mortar’s beacon through Bluetooth, messages and promotional offers can be sent. Macy’s now features beacons in 4000 stores, while Lord & Taylor and Urban Outfitters have also employed this latest trend. At the The Westfield Ted Baker Store in London, customers will gain “access [to] details about the clothes and accessories displayed, such as price and links to purchase the items directly from Ted Baker’s website, or where they can be found in store,” writes The Retail Bulletin. iBeacons are also used to show personalized store window displays and interactive smart mirrors to exciting shoppers.
Social Commerce Applications
Social networks such as Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter are now used expansively by retailers for marketing their products according to the user’s browsing history, comments, preferences, actions, and behaviors. Twitter tested its Buy button in 2014 with a small number of sellers, and went on to expand with Shopify, Demandware and Bigcommerce in 2015. More and more retailers are adopting social marketing platform applications to offer share-n-save, refer-a-friend, visual gallery, and user generated content. These marketing solutions are designed to allow customers to discover exciting new products that their shopping peers love and review authentic un-biased product reviews before making a purchase.
Today there are over 3.6B mobile devices in the world consuming some marketing content every day. This number is going be over 4.11B devices in 2019. Data from Mobile 500 2016 reveals that in 2015 U.S. mobile commerce sales totaled over $104.05 billion, up 38.7% from $75.03 billion in 2014. Growth in mobile e-Commerce was faster outside of United States.
As almost every consumer has a mobile phone and mobile devices have become an integral part of any shopping experience. From finding a store location, reading reviews, to comparing pricing online while standing inside the store. Retailers are focusing on responsive design and faster speed of their mobile apps to improve customer experience. The second quarterly report of Demandware shows that 94% of increase in shopping visits and 75% growth of basket creation is due to smartphones alone.
With technology advancing by leaps and bounds, retailers can expect nothing short of extraordinary for marketing their products and services in the future. Whether it is promotional campaigns or improving customer experience, the retail industry can rely on technology to ensure highest customer satisfaction and increased revenue.