Retail stores are facing stiff digital competition and, increasingly, they are losing. In the United States, approximately 15 percent of malls are expected to fail within the next 10 years and the obvious culprit is online shopping, which is constantly receiving a larger share of total retail spending. Plainly, malls are still going strong in the Philippines with many planned or already in construction. However, online shopping is just taking off in our country and the traffic snarls are getting worse. More and more people might not want to venture out in a few years.
Paradoxically, the salvation of retail stores also lies in the internet: digital marketing. Numerous international retail brands are either utilizing digital advertising agencies or building their own digital and social media marketing teams. They realize that they need to cater to the highly mobile lifestyle of today in order to retain and increase sales.
By 2018, experts are expecting smartphone penetration in the Philippines to rise to about 70 percent. Already, numerous people can be seen flashing their iPhones, Galaxies, and Oppo F1s when making calls, messaging, or just bored. They have also become indispensable shopping aids. 55% of those who shop in a brick and mortar store do some online researching before, during, and even after a purchase. They visit the store’s or product’s website, read the reviews, compare prices, and ask the opinions of the people inside their social media networks.
The sheer influence of the internet in purchase decisions doesn’t automatically mean that online shopping will replace physical stores. Storefronts offer an experience that can’t be replicated on the web: the ability to handle the product and, more broadly, the sights and sounds of malls, which in the Philippines aren’t simple shopping hubs but community centers. The challenge lies in aligning digital marketing with retail – and overall – sales goals.
Creating a Digital Marketing-Based Retail Shopping Experience
The divide between digital marketing and physical shopping can be encapsulated in one word: showrooming. The term is used by retailers to refer to the way shoppers often come to the store or to different stores, only to ultimately buy the item online or from a competitor which offered a better deal.
It’s easy to blame online shopping and the internet for the physical store’s lost sale but that’s counterproductive. Instead, the physical store shouldn’t view the online store as a competitor, but as an extension. Undoubtedly, consumers still want the physical experience of touching, seeing, and engaging the products or else they wouldn’t be showrooming in the first place. They want to be able to test the products in person in order to dismiss their doubts.
To address customer needs, retailers should promote a unique in-store experience by providing an unforgettable “human touch”. And this touch doesn’t necessarily need to come from a sales associate, although it does help. Research has found that customers use their smartphones to assist them in their shopping even while inside stores; in other words, their web-connected phones are their personal salesperson the digital and the physical experience can and should be combined to create a holistic experience for consumers to close a sale. Here’s how this can be done.
Create a relaxing in-store environment for your customers
Buying is an experience and when people don’t like how they’re feeling they are more likely to purchase somewhere that does. They’re far more likely come again too.
Make your customer’s in-store experience inspiring and memorable
People love to hand over money and come back to stores that make them feel special. By extending the experience into digital realms and emphasizing in-store entertainment, customers can enjoy a satisfying experience.
Provide the human touch in person
Having store associates or frontliners help connect the brand to consumers because they provide a needed human face for your brand. Shoppers are more likely to buy after receiving knowledgeable product advice from them too.
The problem of showrooming is the result of a divided retail and digital strategy. However, it’s symptomatic of a disconnection in a brands’ digital marketing strategy that too often segregates various components instead of uniting them into one direction Social media, web, and mobile are compartmentalized into different teams that all operate on their own terms without a single guiding strategy and goal. The brand’s effort is fractured and leads to situation where the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing.
It’s critical to unite all your digital efforts and make them serve your overall business strategy.
Listed below are a few steps in creating a cohesive digital marketing strategy that can satisfy your loyal customers and increase in-store traffic and sales.
- Give incentives for shoppers to be encouraged to visit your store. You can do this by offering promos or discounts, available in-store only.
- Focus on the mobile experience as research shows that this platform is the most widely-used, especially in showrooming.
- Integrate your online and offline strategy in a framework that will map out customer journey.
- Use print ads and spread them through digital channels.
Improving Digital Marketing
Combining your digital efforts will hugely impact the quality of your content. And that’s crucial because higher quality digital content will be the key to convincing people to purchase in-store. In the Philippines, many brands have been built through digital marketing, such as Rappler and Top Gear. Other brands can easily do the same.
There is a large, growing market out there of fitness buffs, jetsetters, fashion-savvy individuals, and more from both millennials and non-millennials alike. Numerous niche blogs and online magazines are being established to respond to the rising demand for content.
To produce the required content, help them find partners in new media, and lead their campaigns, companies are seeking help from digital marketing agencies, often to positive results.
The marketing scene has evolved. No longer is it dominated by traditional media, such as TV, radio, and print. The average person spends 12 to 13 hours online every single day, opening new opportunities for a brand can reach and influence consumers.
Digital marketing in the Philippines has enormous potential. There are 47 million active internet users in the country with 41 million mobile social users. Retailers can optimize profits if they employ the right digital strategy, connect well with the right audience, and focus on the right device at the right time.
With digital marketing, creativity goes a long way as a means to inform, connect, and, most importantly, engage your market. Mobile marketing, social media, and search marketing are some of the many ways to increase brand presence and influence consumers.
There are many benefits of digital marketing:
- It reduces cost – because the internet is practically infinite, ad space isn’t limited
- It enhances marketing appeal – millenials are more likely to engage brands in the web
- It improves brand engagement and exposure – discovery and conversation is intrinsic to the world wide web
- It supplies real-time results – easily learn what’s happening in social media or the website at any time
- It provides measurable outcomes – brands don’t have to rely on estimates to understand the effect of content to sales
The Importance of a Digital Marketing Agency
Many companies are already implementing some form of digital marketing, raising the competition throughout the internet. That’s why it’s imperative that retail companies, especially those with old brands, seek the help of a marketing agency to help jumpstart their digital strategy. Successful campaigns have resulted in renewed interest in the brand as it becomes inclusive and appealing to younger audiences.
Digital marketing agencies provide creative and effective digital marketing solutions for businesses. Hiring them has often proved to create cost-efficient strategies that will provide the expert marketing skills your business needs because of the advantages they offer.
- Get access to needed digital marketing skills.
- Stay up-to-date with current marketing trends.
- Be guided on digital strategies by people who are experienced in the field.
- Gain new perspectives that will prove to be useful for business.
Converting Online Visibility into Sales
But more than skills, digital marketing agencies offer access to a range of strategies that will not just ensure online brand visibility, but will also convert visibility to sales. There are three important steps that these agencies can do which most companies need to work on to make the best of their online presence.
Content remains to be the most important element in a digital marketing strategy. It’s what attracts buyers and convinces them to purchase your brand. In digital marketing, content is the “fire” while social media is the “fuel”. That’s why the best digital marketing agencies will tell you that they strive to produce content that is 10 times better than what others provide and then use social media as platforms for distribution to drive traffic to your brand.
Traffic is generated when you attract visitors by using interesting and engaging content such as infographics, blog posts, and other content types. Mobile and video strategies can also be employed. Using data produced by the initial content, brands can ensure the success of future posts. Engaging audiences through the creation of thoughtful and meaningful content can build a base of repeat visitors who will still offer their support even after a campaign is over.
Return on Investment
As awareness about your brand is increased and organic traffic continues to grow, return on investment (ROI) increases. Shifting more attention towards conversion rate optimization can help increase traffic results and therefore result in a higher ROI. Profitability is gained by maximizing conversions among the readers.
For many businesses, digital marketing agencies are now essential, especially because they offer cost-effective alternative investing in a full-time digital marketing department. Nowadays, businesses have lots of agencies to choose from, but what’s important is to find an agency that can provide results that your business needs.
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