Stretching into the month of October, consumers may have been shopping earlier than ever before this holiday season, but there will always be those who delay their shopping for a variety of reasons. Black Friday promotions and deals may lure many to brave the malls – upwards of 140 million people this year – but there are many others who prefer shopping without the crowds, long lines and frenzied sales associates.
ShopperTrak recently released its forecast for the best days to shop for those wanting to bypass the crowds, with four of the top ten days occurring in the week after Black Friday. With NRF’s forecast that spending per consumer will actually decrease by 2% this year, retailers will need to be smart about implementing the right strategies to entice foot traffic through their doors during these slower-traffic days. The best way to do this may be to give shoppers exactly what they’re looking for – the promise of lower crowds combined with great deals and an attentive sales staff.
According to NRF, technology has made the holiday shopper adept at hassle-free shopping through finely tuned shopping skills. When it comes to where they will actually shop, price and promotions are paramount, with over 35% citing sales and discounts as the most important factor determining where they will shop. But, if retailers can promote their attentive sales staff, special “doorbusters” or discounts available specific days of the week, or even price matching online offers, they will be more effective at reaching the “hassle-free” customer. Retailers can also take advantage of this slow time to subscribe new customers to mailing lists or sign them up for membership rewards.
It’s also important for retailers to consider Google’s new Gmail layout, which can hinder any promotional email campaigns sent out during the week. Because emails sent by marketers are automatically placed under a promotions tab, time-sensitive sales could be overlooked. Retailers must understand the most effective way to reach their customers via mobile channels, whether through tweets, Facebook postings or even text messaging.
In order for stores to capitalize on opportunities that arise during slow traffic days this holiday season – as well as future ones – they need the right tools to help them make the best decisions. ShopperTrak can provide retailers with traffic benchmarking reports and real-time analytics through our people counting technology in order to help them convert browsers into buyers.
It’s been over a year since Nielsen revealed findings from its study “Marketing’s Most Valuable Generation” about the significant opportunities in the Baby Boomer demographic. For those brands tending to focus on the younger, more active and more tech-savvy demographics, this is a significantly valuable group that is often overlooked – especially considering they control 70 percent of U.S. disposable income and account for 50 percent of CPG sales. Those over the age of 50 will not only comprise half of the U.S. population by 2017, but grow by three times the rate of those in the coveted 18-49 segment. (Nielsen)
So what’s the hesitation about reaching out to this market? Contrary to popular belief, they have more money than any other demographic and are willing to spend it; they spend more money than any other demographic on new technologies; and they’re not stuck in their ways when it comes to brand preference. If retailers can understand and fulfill the growing, specific needs contained in this large demographic, they can benefit from the remarkable opportunities not offered by other segments.
First, it’s important to note one can’t cast all Baby Boomers into the geriatric, silver-haired category. This demographic spans almost twenty years and finds individuals at different life stages – from raising a family to enjoying retirement. And even the oldest don’t like to be viewed as being old. In order for retailers to effectively customize messages to this group, it helps to break them down into segments from the younger Baby Boomers, age 48-57, to the older Baby Boomers, age 58-66, as well as understanding where they are at in their life stages.
Although engaging this demographic is no easy task, it’s definitely getting easier, as Boomers are becoming more engaged with social media. They may not be driving technology like the millennials, but, compared to other age groups, they spend more money on it each month and are eager to adopt new innovations. In fact, some analysts believe this demographic represents a more important technology market than Generations X and Y.
Considering this is the demographic that helped mold the consumerism we’re so familiar with, Baby Boomers are wide open to trying new products and spending money to do so. In fact, it can be difficult to maintain a long-term relationship with this group if brands aren’t meeting the reliability, quality and effectiveness they demand from products. (Colloquy) This can be good news for those brands whose owners feel their products offer a better alternative and can effectively communicate this message.
No matter which demographic retailers are pursuing, understanding all of the nuances that make up a group is one thing – but knowing the most effective way to reach them is another. This is why retailers need real-time analytics provided by ShopperTrak people counting technology to harness accurate data that gives them the actionable insights they require to optimize every opportunity.
“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is a particularly relevant adage in teenager-focused social media marketing. Especially when considering that technology and tastes are constantly evolving to create the next new “flavor of the day.” Our technological culture has given the millennial generation both the appetite and ability to go from the “now to the next” and the need to say, “I was there first.” (Pew) This keeps retailers on their toes as they must scrutinize their marketing strategy continually to keep up with these changing trends.
What’s the “next” one that’s becoming all the rage? Recently, Piper Jaffray released its “Taking Stock With Teens” semiannual market research, which revealed that Twitter is quickly becoming the new preferred channel among teenagers. It appears that Twitter is now upstaging Facebook, with Instagram close behind, showing that, where 42% of teens considered Facebook as the most important channel a year ago, now only 23% are viewing it so.
Of course, Facebook is still a prominent player in the social arena, and it’s trying to meet the current challenge by including public posting options for teenagers. However, because teens’ preferences are constantly evolving, it’s imperative retailers adjust their social media strategies to keep pace with where this targeted younger audience is hanging out and how they like to be engaged.
Getting online engagement right is critical because of the extent those under the age of 25 are brand-oriented. Ed Keller and Brad Fay note in their book, The Face-to-Face Book, that age is the most important factor of those who talk about brands online. One of their surveys revealed that this age group talked about brands 120 times per week, while older age groups did so 70 times per week. Retailers can count on this younger generation being more influential in spreading brand recommendations than their older counterparts.
Obviously, retailers shouldn’t be adopting the next new thing if it doesn’t support their overall strategy. However, if they know how to engage their market and strike quickly while the iron is hot, they can be successful. If uncertainty brings inaction — as they wait to see what others are doing before they make their next move — they will, likely, miss out on some significant opportunities.
As teenagers actively use and share media in all its forms, retailers must strive to stay ahead by being prepared in every way possible. Through our people counting technology, ShopperTrak gives retailers the necessary tools to measure all the variables of store performance. Our in-store analytics system provides the appropriate benchmarks that allow them to make the right decisions based on the right data.
New technologies and processes continue to change the retail landscape in mobile transactions. Major financial players have seen the significant potential in these digital payments, which are expected to reach $670 billion and make up 40% of the market by 2015. They are gearing up their strategies by developing new systems, adapting current digital technologies, and forming unlikely alliances. With the evolving integration of mobile in almost every aspect of the shopping experience, these ongoing digital developments will continue to affect how consumers choose to handle their in-store transactions, and compel retailers to decide how they will use them.
The most recent development in mobile payments has been the unlikely alliance of the three major credit card companies — American Express, MasterCard and Visa. Pooling together their resources, they are developing a secure and convenient mobile payment standard that will simplify transactions for both consumers and merchants. If their efforts are successful, they could see a positive response from consumers, as one survey revealed that 62% preferred financial institutions take the lead on new payment methods, trusting them with security concerns more than they trust wireless providers and Internet companies. This is especially relevant to retailers because they understand that, ultimately, it will be the consumers who dictate the form of payment being used for in-store transactions.
Unfortunately, this credit card alliance will be unlikely to make things any easier, as other popular mobile payment channels are continuing to improve upon their own systems. For instance, PayPal recently announced it will be adapting Bluetooth technology to enhance its digital payment experience for both consumers and retailers, with some believing it could overtake the current wireless technology Near Field Communications. Until security concerns are overcome and mobile transactions become easier than swiping a credit card, however, retailers will continue to rely on their customers to tell them their preferential mode of payment.
Although retailers may have uncertainty in how they will integrate future mobile payment applications, they can still be certain about the effectiveness of those in-store processes that affect conversions. Through our in-store analytics, ShopperTrak provides accurate data to deliver one-of-a-kind insight, allowing retailers to have a comprehensive measure of their store’s true performance.
Gaining a clear perspective of footfall, micro-location, and demographics reveals opportunities to improve leasing, marketing, and operational effectiveness and is vital information in today’s competitive retail environment.
Don’t miss the opportunity to find out how the leading global provider of shopper insights and analytics can help you improve profitability and feel confident about truly optimising sales and tenant relationships.
Come to ShopperTrak’s stand R35.04 in Espace Riviera at MAPIC or book a meeting with one of Shoppertrak’s representatives to find out how next generation tools and metrics are helping innovative shopping centre developers and retailers uncover how shoppers interact within their shopping environments.
Retailers are very aware of the shortened holiday shopping season this year, which has been reduced by almost a full week between Black Friday and Christmas. On top of that, this holiday calendar has also brought only four – rather than five – full weekends to shop, which are typically the peak times for shopping traffic.
However, just as back-to-school season brought in shoppers as early as July, the holiday season has fared no differently, with 40% of consumers beginning their holiday shopping before Halloween. Of course, it’s imperative that retailers hit the ground running the day after October 31st. But, to really profit from earlier shoppers, especially those celebrating an earlier Hanukkah, retailers should already be making their way around the track.
Although ShopperTrak has forecasted a 2.4% increase in holiday sales for the months of November and December, total traffic to stores is expected to decline by 1.4% from last year. Retailers must understand that, although there may be just as many people shopping in stores this year, they may be visiting fewer stores to make their purchases. Steep discounts on select items may bring foot traffic through the door, but it won’t encourage them to linger and shop. Retailers must have a solid strategy in place to deliver the kind of seamless shopping experience consumers demand – both online and offline.
The NRF has stressed how retailers must leverage digital technology and have omnichannel initiatives in place to be successful with consumers. For instance, the NRF found that two-thirds expect a good smartphone experience and three-quarters expect a good tablet experience. However, almost 90% expect retailers to use technology to help them find an out-of-stock product. And, if there’s one thing retailers know about holiday shoppers, it’s that consumers want exactly what they’re looking for right now – or they’ll shop elsewhere. Those who can engage customers digitally over the holiday season will increase customer sentiment in the long run.
Retailers will also find that this level of engagement may help relieve some of the frustration customers feel because of a scaled-back service staff. Technological advancement has groomed consumers for immediacy. If they’re able to get more of their immediate needs and questions met through digital channels, especially while they’re standing in the store, it will save them from experiencing the aggravation of having to wait to be serviced by the “next available representative.” It may also free up employees to serve those with more complex needs.
Although online retailing has grown exponentially, the physical brick-and-mortar store is still at the heart of the holiday experience for shoppers. ShopperTrak understands this and has provided retailers with the people counting technology to harness accurate data for actionable insights to effectively bridge the online and offline worlds. Retailers have successfully used our in-store analytics system to identify and target those factors contributing to the seamless shopping experience their customers demand.
Twitter has come a long way since Ad Age revealed in a 2010 study that the presence of most brands were considered irrelevant by the majority of users. Fast-forward a couple years later and things have certainly changed. Now that retailers are figuring out how to best optimize this platform, especially with its targeted display advertising and real-time relevance, Twitter has proven to be one serious social channel.
Just how influential has this platform grown to be? Richard Alfonsi, Twitter VP of Global Online Sales, revealed at the 2013 NRF Convention that retail and shopping conversations on Twitter increased by 60% from 2011 to 2012. Another study found that holiday shopping conversations alone increased by 30% over this same time period. With mobile devices catching up to desktop computers as the preferred mode of shopping, Twitter use should only grow higher this holiday season.
If retailers haven’t discovered Twitter’s impact on conversions, they will now. This same study found among its respondents that Twitter affected every stage of the shopping process, from product awareness to post-purchase evaluations. As Alfonsi puts it, “Twitter is the place where people gather to talk about products, retailers and shopping.”
Not only did two-thirds of the respondents learn of new products from Twitter, but almost two-thirds bought a product because of what they saw on Twitter. It influenced shopping patterns by helping over half of its users determine which stores they should visit, and serving as an important tool to almost half while they were shopping in the store. Two-thirds finished their shopping trip by tweeting about their purchase decisions.
If retailers know their target audience can be found on Twitter, it’s imperative they take advantage of this platform during the holidays by developing a methodical campaign to effectively engage its users. One research report encouraged brands to align their strategy with the three social media traffic peaks found during the holiday season – the pre-, during- and post-holiday periods. Each of these peaks calls for “different tactics and message styles,” so retailers must understand which ones have already proven effective for their brand and implement them at the right time.
Brands are also encouraged to develop their campaign message with a clear holiday theme. Consumers have been especially responsive to social media campaigns that tie into the holidays, and those not capitalizing on this holiday sentiment were ineffective at engaging consumers. However, retailers must find the right balance of good will and promotion. Using the holidays to over-promote could backfire when consumers are looking for meaningful holiday messages from their brands.
With mobile on the rise, planning and executing an effective social media strategy is crucial during the holiday season, and retailers must get it right. ShopperTrak understands the importance of not only getting traffic into stores, but ensuring that traffic results in conversions. Through our people-counting technology, we help retailers determine the prime factors that drive store performance.
There’s no question that social media technology has changed the expectations of customers who have been groomed by it to expect swift results. Always connected and able to research any topic with the touch of a button, they expect their experiences to be immediate, effortless, and accurate.
In fact, as they no longer see any difference in how they interact with multiple devices and content on a daily basis, why should they view their interactions across all verticals to be any different? To them, business is business, and they expect the same exact level of care, concern, and usefulness from each one regardless of the industry.
Jay Baer, author of Youtility, explains that, because customers are gathering information about companies and making purchase decisions differently in today’s world, companies must adapt to their expectations. They can no longer hide behind the status quo and their own past industry standards of doing things – where “good enough” has always been good enough. If customers are receiving a level of care from one business, they are going to expect it across the board. As described in Youtility, “Consumer expectations are being set by those front-running experiences…now they’re expecting those across all verticals, and a lot of companies are struggling with that.” (78) The ones meeting and exceeding customers’ expectations through helpful engagement are raising the stakes for the rest.
As Baer puts it, there’s a big difference between selling to a customer and helping a customer. Retailers can no longer limit their customer interactions to just promoting and selling. Rather, retailers must fully engage with consumers by providing real-time, relevant information that answers every question – and then some. Benefits from these interactions may take some time to materialize, but companies will find that the “trust capital” they’re building now will provide a solid foundation for future transactions and contribute to the longevity of their company. Baer’s philosophy: “If you sell something, you make a customer today; if you help someone, you make a customer for life.” (3) In a world where transparency is now the rule rather than the exception, providing this level of “usefulness” builds the kind of trust retailers need.
Through our people counting systems, ShopperTrak understands that, for retailers to gain a comprehensive picture of their own performance, they must have insight into the performance of the market as a whole. Many factors within a retailer’s marketplace must be considered when implementing the most effective strategy. Our in-store analytics can help retailers assess these factors and identify the best action to take to improve performance.
As the holiday shopping season approaches, consumer expectations and their accompanying emotions will be running high. Armed with their mobile devices, they will be prepared to do holiday battle as they uncover everything they need to know – reviews, ratings, prices, even product availability – all with the touch of a button.
Customer service interactions using social media will not be exempt. One study found that one in four of those who used social media for customer service inquiries said they rarely or never received an answer or had a complaint resolved. If retailers are unprepared to successfully handle this during the holiday frenzy, they will find themselves not only at a disadvantage, but vulnerable.
This is especially relevant when these problems can drive customers away. Although it varies across industries, research has found there is an average of a 25% drop in loyalty among customers who experience a problem. Imagine losing one in every four customers who have faced a problem with your business. What makes it particularly difficult is that, even though half of your customers may experience some sort of problem, only 5% will actually complain. That means you may never know about the negative experiences of the other 95%. (CTMA)
This is why it’s imperative that businesses concentrate on establishing specific customer service guidelines and procedures for their social media interactions. Nick Burcher, author of Paid, Owned, Earned, explains that a comprehensive social media guide must be created to well equip a company’s representatives to handle any and every possible situation. For instance, who should respond to what? What tone of voice and kind of response should be used? Which topics should and should not be mentioned? What “crisis procedure” should be established to address and handle quickly any potential problem that could occur? (205)
Retailers will find that an immediate and relevant response within their social media interactions can have a significant effect. Results from a 2011 study showed that 68% of consumers who posted a complaint or negative review on a social networking or ratings/review site after a negative holiday shopping experience received a response from the retailer. Of those who received a response, 33% turned around and posted a positive review and 34% deleted their original negative review.
As retailers look for those factors that will help them build a solid customer service strategy, ShopperTrak provides an in-store analytics system that can aid in this process. By employing in-depth business analytics through our peoplecounting technology, we give the tools to help them understand those factors that best drive success in their business.
Retailers understand how difficult it is to cut through the online and offline clutter to capture a consumer’s interest. Content added to online channels alone is staggering with 140 million tweets, 1.5 billion pieces of Facebook content, 10 million Tumblr posts, 1.6 million blog posts, 2 million Youtube videos, 5 million Flickr images, and 60,000 new websites – all of this on a daily basis (Contently). What makes it more challenging is that a retailer’s strategy isn’t just to capture a consumer’s interest, but to compel that consumer to take action.
So exactly how does a retailer break through the clutter to capture attention and get people to remember its brand? Interrupt the pattern by using novelty.
Douglas Van Praet in his book, Unconscious Branding, discusses a long held belief that repetition of the same material over a prolonged period of time leads to learning and memory retention – kind of like school. Because brands are “learned behaviors,” businesses have often used this concept in advertising to nudge consumers along their brand path by playing the same commercial over and over, recycling the same products and ideas, or even copying what seems to be working for the competitor. Although this repetitive nature may have worked in school, science has proven that in advertising it’s a different story.
That’s because research has revealed that our brain has been built to ignore the old and focus on the new. Novelty and surprise determine what gets our attention and what keeps it. Scientists have found and explored a “novelty center” in our brain that is activated by unexpected stimuli which can cause an emotional or behavioral reaction and results in learning. New things excite us because they hold a potential for a reward. However, once we are familiar with a stimulus and are no longer rewarded by it, there’s no need to pay attention to it. It’s not the familiar message that sways us, but the unexpected one.
As Van Praet explains, “Pattern interruption works not only because it excites our sensibilities and teaches us something new, but because it is one of the quickest ways to redirect our behavior; the ultimate goal of almost every marketing effort.” (106) An advertisement – no matter how originally creative – when played over and over will eventually lose its effectiveness. However, slight variations in the same ad over time can actually keep a consumer’s attention because the pattern is continually being interrupted. Retailers can find this concept to be effective in all forms and channels of marketing – from advertisements and social media interactions to display layouts and store operations.
While retailers explore the best tactics to capture attention and compel behavior, ShopperTrak can provide the tools to effectively measure performance through our people counting technology. Successfully engaging consumers is always a retailer’s challenge, however, our in-store analytics, which is grounded in shopper conversion, allows them to capture and apply actionable insights to all functions of their stores.