How Marketers Can Adapt to Today’s Retail Landscape
Jul 28 2023
The days of shopping exclusively in-store are behind us, but suggesting that “everybody shops online” falls far short of accurately describing today’s retail landscape. The reality is much more complex, with shoppers actively researching online while browsing in brick-and-mortar stores, purchasing directly through social media platforms, and ultimately engaging in omnichannel shopping experiences of their own creation.
Keep reading to get a better sense of the current state of retail, how marketers are adapting their strategies, and how to optimize your business’s tactics to keep up with these changes.
A Closer Look at the Retail Today
In-person shopping isn’t obsolete, but it’s in a state of decline. Data from the Labor Department shows that “department store sales fell by 2.9% month-over-month in November, the third-straight month of decline,” according to Insider Intelligence. To combat this, luxury retailers are positioning themselves as shopping “destinations” that offer goods and entire retail experiences to be enjoyed in person.
Efforts to revive consumer spending aren’t limited to indoor spaces; retailers are simultaneously ramping up digital strategies to reach ecommerce shoppers. Hootsuite’s Global State of Digital Report 2022 found that over 58% of global Internet users made at least one online purchase every week (with nearly 31% of those purchases happening on a mobile device). With over 2.5 million ecommerce sites to choose from in the US alone, it’s no surprise that experts anticipate the global ecommerce industry topping $8 trillion by 2026.
Marketing to both in-store and digital shoppers is in line with how today’s consumers make purchases. Nielsen reports that 22% of shoppers “plan an in-store shopping trip combined with a prior online order,” and over 85% of consumers make purchases both online and in-store. Those who only shop online (1%) or exclusively in-store (14%) are far from the majority of shoppers; therefore, omnichannel marketing is a must for modern retailers.
Tracking Trends and Shifting Strategies
Remaining relevant and financially successful in retail today requires a shift in marketing strategies. Begin by studying audience behaviors in ways that offer more usable insights. For example, Macy’s studies its shoppers’ credit card data to determine financial viability and uncover trends in consumer spending — what are they buying and when? Studying buying patterns also informs pricing and inventory strategies, which can help to guide the direction of future digital campaigns.
This type of approach has likely also revealed social commerce’s increasing popularity. Ecommerce and social commerce purchases are both completed online, but there are important differences. Ecommerce purchases are made through a brand’s online shop on their website. In social commerce, consumers buy items directly from a brand’s social media account. Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are just some of the platforms where consumers are discovering and purchasing products via social media.
Marketers are capitalizing on this trend by investing heavily in social media ads. Spending on social media advertising was forecasted to exceed $56 billion in 2022, up from $40 billion in 2020.
Strategies to Reach Today’s Retail Shoppers
The significant overlap between in-person and online shoppers tells us that an omnichannel campaign is the most cost-effective way to connect with the greatest percentage of your target audience. When studying data from both of these customer segments, you’re looking for insights that illustrate the differences between online and in-store shopping behaviors in addition to asking the following:
-What percentage of our buyers are shifting toward ecommerce?
-Of our online sales, how many came through social commerce? (if applicable)
-What demographics differentiate online customers from in-store?
-Are there any new or exciting trends we should be aware of?
Not every ecommerce retailer has a brick-and-mortar shop to draw data from. If this applies to your business, study competitors and industry trends to find the insights that can help you strengthen your online presence and digital strategy. The following tactics can help you, too.
Reach more mobile device-using customers with push notifications. Like short, snackable videos grab a person’s attention, push notifications pull customers back into the conversation and, ultimately, your retail space. Create personalized notifications that add value to the customer experience, such as sending alerts when their favorite product is restocked or an exclusive sale is coming up. Include a clear CTA with each alert to increase your chance of engagement and conversion.
Make social commerce work for you
Create as many avenues to purchase as possible by tying your social media channels to the ecommerce experience. Instagram and TikTok offer discovery features (some are even geared specifically toward in-app shopping) that lead new customers directly to your profiles.
Keep their attention — and cater to current customers — by building out social storefronts with detailed descriptions and high-quality images, then use that same attention to detail to create shoppable posts and paid ads. Shoppers should be able to either 1) purchase immediately, 2) save the item for later, or 3) learn more when they spot an item they like. Instagram and Facebook allow users to conveniently save items for later. The in-app messaging features let users contact you directly with questions for a more engaging and valuable experience.
To retain current customers while attracting new ones, marketers must develop relevant and engaging campaigns that can keep up with evolving retail practices. The ability to nimbly adapt marketing strategies will separate businesses into those that merely survive industry changes — and those that thrive amidst these shifts.
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