By: Byung Choi for StreetFight and Newsbreak Date: June 3, 2020
“As the world continues to grapple with the Covid-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for retailers to stay connected to their local communities in order to stay relevant. New challenges are constantly emerging, and these challenges are not just new, they are unprecedented. While no one can predict what may happen next, the one certainty we’ve seen consistently is that brands who have been transparent have been more successful. For example,the makeup brand Glossier provided honest, consistent messaging about store operations, while also promoting their retooling efforts to provide hospital staff with hand sanitizer. These efforts have been met with great enthusiasm from industry leaders and consumers alike.
In 2020, organization and transparency will be key for retail marketers. In the short term, retailers must identify and optimize existing technologies to stay afloat. In the longer term, the focus should be on evolving shopping behavior and enabling transformation through technology. Knowing that Q3 will be a critical quarter for retailers as Covid-19 lockdown policies begin to lift, retailers must plan their comebacks now, and that begins with a strong digital approach.
Almost overnight, the retail industry as we knew it was forced to go completely digital as store closures were mandated globally. While it was anticipated that nearly 3.7 billion people globally wouldshop solely using their smart phones by 2025, these times of self-quarantine have pushed that transition into overdrive. As a result, retailers have had to pick up the pace to convert potential customers quickly with intuitive websites that make it easy for users to purchase on the devices of their choosing. Post-quarantine, retailers who want to retain customers need to be agile, innovative, and be able to touch consumers at all points within their buying journey, regardless of which channels they prefer.
Brands need to have a solid social media strategy to build credibility and engage their customer base. Social channels, including Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok are vital in today’s digital-first society, particularly when humans are feeling isolated and craving connections. These channels provide brands a way to stay engaged with customers despite the status of a physical storefront. Most importantly, marketing teams can also use social channels to educate and entertain customers. From sharing inventory updates to participating in viral challenges to keep a brand trending, there are many ways to stay top of mind with customers in the digital space during this crisis.
Use Marketing Technology Effectively for Localization Efforts
As safety protocols and lifestyles continue to shift daily, retailers must stay ahead of the ball to communicate with consumers in their respective regions with updates regarding store hours, delivery or pick-up options, sales, and more. A key way to ensure retailers are quickly communicating the right messages to each local market is through effective use of marketing technology like a cloud-based digital asset management (DAM) tool. Beyond just times of crisis, DAM software helps brands streamline their marketing localization efforts. Acting as a central repository for marketing collateral materials, it can help enforce brand guidelines with universal updates, effectively managing outdated assets, images, trademarks, logos, and disclaimers.
Additionally, brands don’t have to overextend themselves and produce all of their marketing collateral and content on their own. A great way to lighten the workload on marketing teams while highlighting customers is to leverage user-generated content (UGC). UGC is more authentic and trustworthy because it comes from a brand’s customers and advocates. In fact, 90% of users trust UGC to inform their purchasing decisions. UGC is the ultimate form of hyper-localized content depending on the user’s location. This sort of content is highly effective at boosting user engagement and interaction, especially on social media, while driving increased conversions and revenue. GoPro does a fantastic job of leveraging photos and videos taken by its product users to highlight features and quality in a way that feels less self-serving and promotional.
Understand Local Seasonal Peaks and Adapt
Retailers had to take an unfortunate loss on Q1 and early Q2 inventory as many brands didn’t anticipate extended store closures. Looking towards the holiday season, retailers must take careful inventory of available stock and marketing assets to properly promote future deals and trends. One of the best marketing tactics in a retailer’s arsenal is capitalizing on seasonal or local events and creating campaigns around them to drive sales. Retailers should take note of these local events and seasonal peaks in given geographies ahead of time to start planning marketing campaigns.
Managing marketing collateral doesn’t begin at a campaign launch – it begins months in advance during the planning stages. Before retailers begin to design, organize, and distribute assets globally, they should first consider what collateral each region is prioritizing that season. As current global events have made all too apparent, it’s important for retailers to be able to adapt to changing trends and events quickly, and pivot their local marketing tactics to accommodate these shifts.
As the world sits in uncertainty, the retail industry will emerge on the other side of the pandemic. By focusing on what can be controlled, ensuring marketing assets are organized, and being ready to pivot and respond to changing conditions, retailers will be able to weather these challenging times as we enter a new normal.”