It’s not an easy time to be in retail. Everyone must now compete with Amazon, and big box retailers are struggling to connect with consumers who have hundreds of digital options at their fingertips.
Despite challenges, certain retailers are weathering the storm through smart investments in content, mobile, video and emerging technologies such as augmented reality (AR). Below, we highlight some of the best digital strategies from ecommerce retailers.
They Bridge In-Store and Digital
The customer journey is no longer linear. Consumers use a variety of devices and channels on their paths to making a purchase, and they expect quality customer service no matter what device they’re using or where they are in the buying cycle.
Retailers are embracing this new method of shopping with strategies combining the best aspects of the physical and digital worlds to create a more fulfilling and convenient shopping experience.
That could mean having digital technologies like beacons and augmented reality set up in stores. It could also manifest itself through features such as “buy online, pick up in-store” (aka BOPUS), a popular approach that allows consumers to avoid shipping fees and get their hands on a purchase faster if picking it up is more convenient.
Example: While BOPUS is relatively common, some retailers stand out with superior customer service and incentives. For instance, Sears offers “In-Vehicle Pickup“, meaning they’ll bring your purchase to you in the parking lot. Macy’s offers up to 20% off your next purchase for choosing in-store pickup.
Another example of in-store/digital integration: Nieman Marcus merges digital and physical worlds with in-store “Memory Mirrors” that let shoppers record 360-degree videos of themselves trying on clothing in the store (see video below). Shoppers can then save the video in the Nieman Marcus mobile app to review later.
They Create Their Own Original Content
A well-developed content library creates touchpoints with customers and potential customers, builds trust with them, and educates them on how to handle their own business challenges.
Blog posts and articles – This content is a great way to tell stories and bring online searchers to your site through SEO keywords and topics. To increase conversions, products can be incorporated within the content, albeit discreetly.
Lookbooks – Lookbooks pique consumers’ interest in upcoming product lines, making it an especially popular content choice in the apparel space.
Buyers guides – Feature comparison tables, user reviews, and downloadable assets are all great ways to use content to educate users about your products.
Example: Pep Boys’ website is full of useful content for visitors. The learning center features articles on a variety of car care topics like tips on tire rotation. The brand’s buyers guides provide information on a range of car care products.
A case study on Pep Boys’ digital content show that the investment in original content is paying off:
- 716% return on ad spend
- 40% decrease in cost per visit
- 18% increase in click through rate
They Use Video
By 2021, 82% of all consumer internet traffic will be driven by video, according to Cisco. Consumers’ growing preference for video has been influenced by a surge in mobile usage, as many of the most popular mobile activities — like social networking and catching up on the news — make use of video.
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For brands, this is an opportunity to connect with ecommerce shoppers as video gives content more of a heartbeat and engages consumers with visuals and music.
Example: Lowe’s has been a consistent video innovator. In 2013, the brand introduced its “Fix in Six” series on Vine. In 2016, Lowe’s debuted its 360-degree “Made in a Minute” videos on Facebook, providing quick DIY tips (see video below).
Knowing that video works for its audience, Lowe’s integrates video on its website. Its learning center provides instructional home improvement videos like “How to Install Luxury Vinyl Tile Flooring.” As a way to prod buying decisions, Lowe’s content pages link to products featured in the videos.
They’re Killing it with Mobile
Headlines about mobile fatigue aside, ecommerce brands are still finding ways to use mobile to enhance customer loyalty.
Example: One of the big barriers to mobile app adoption for retailers can be cultivating a need for the app when users don’t shop at the store often. Walmart’s app entices customers to shop there more by offering these features:
- Free two-day shipping
- In-store mobile payments
- Order, transfer, and track prescriptions and refills
- Inventory tracking and locator
- Simple re-ordering of frequent purchases
Additionally, Walmart’s mobile app includes the brand’s popular price matching guarantee, which states Walmart will match or beat prices from competitors — including Amazon.