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Top Trends for Influencer Marketing: Are Your Audiences Under the Right Influence?

influencer marketing

“Why should I trust you?”

This is the question from customers that even the best marketing departments dread. Because after all, why should a prospect or a customer believe marketers are telling the truth when their clear intention is for their audience to spend money on their products.

Studies have shown that overall consumer confidence in the trustworthiness of corporate marketing is declining. According to some estimates, as much as 69% of consumers inherently distrust brand advertising, and 43% of respondents report that they trust brand advertising less than they used to.

Enter Influencer Marketing.

While consumer trust in brands has fallen off a cliff, trust in their fellow consumers has risen precipitously. 70% of shoppers state that they are influenced by recommendations from their peers and fellow “normal people.” In fact, consumers today are 30% more likely to purchase if it is recommended by a trusted influencer, rather than a celebrity. And 74% of consumers say that they do trust social media networks to guide them to purchase decisions.

This is where influencer marketing presents an enormous opportunity for smart companies. Let’s take a look at what Brandon Brown of Grin has identified as some of the biggest current trends in influencer marketing.

Retail Influencer Marketing Is Growing

From lifestyle to home décor to fashion, retail brands are embracing influencer marketing faster than any other segment. In fashion, for example, well-known brands like Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Zara, and Sephora are working with popular social media influencers to model their products and give audiences a taste of what they, too might look like in the featured clothes or cosmetics.

In fact, Lord & Taylor recently ran a successful campaign where they tapped 50 influencers to each post photos wearing the exact same dress and tagging it with a predetermined hashtag. The result? The dress sold out of every Lord & Taylor in America in three days. Retail brands should give influencer marketing heavy considering in their marketing plans.

people whiteboarding-marketing assessment

The Rise of B2B Influencer Marketing

The power and promise of influencer marketing isn’t just limited to retail and B2C brands, however. And one of the ingenious ways B2B brands are leveraging it is with employee advocacy programs. Over the last three years, employee advocacy programs among B2B brands have increased by 191%.

Employee advocacy programs offer the best of both worlds in influencer marketing. The brand, for its part, enjoys the trust, authenticity, and believability that only real social media advocacy from real employees can garner. The employees themselves, on the other hand, benefit from the increased “professionalism” that such content brings to their social media pages.

The fact is that B2B brands need to capture the attention of their audiences, and more so, they need to do it in a way that is authentic and lasting. Influencer marketing and employee advocacy programs are an efficient way to do both.

The Ability to Measure ROI Will Be Crucial

As with all marketing efforts, the ability to definitively prove the value and effect of influencer marketing programs will be critical to securing ongoing buy-in from key decision-makers within your organization.

Fortunately, many savvy brands are implementing clever ways to improve their ability to measure influencer marketing ROI. Just as many brands are linking their digital and print marketing channels with the use of custom URLs and promo codes, so too are they measuring influencer marketing ROI. On the simple end of the spectrum, fastidious use of one or two set hashtags for each campaign enables marketers to easily search the engagement of those hashtags.

Likewise, many brands are now distributing custom discount and coupon codes to their influencers, encouraging them to share them with their audiences. That way, whenever a customer enters that unique discount code, the brand can know for certain that they were referred by that particular influencer, and his or her promotional activities.

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As consumer trust in brands and marketing departments continues to plummet, B2B and B2C brands alike are turning to influencer marketing as a smart, cost-effective way to make their marketing budgets go further. If your brand is struggling with trust and authenticity, influencer marketing may be an excellent solution to consider.

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Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

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GlobalShop 2018: Top Retail Trends

The NVISION team had a fantastic experience at this year’s GlobalShop 2018. From the inspiring keynote to the innovative breakout sessions, the future of retail – and the minds of those creating it – is bright. And speaking of experiences, several of this year’s most important trends centered around the ways that brick-and-mortar retailers are transforming their stores into customer experience centers, and the technologies that enable them.

Couldn’t make it to GlobalShop 2018, or didn’t catch all the sessions? Don’t worry. NVISION has identified the five major industry trends retailers should be focused on this year, and why each is so important.

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1. Retail is No Longer About Transactions, But Experiences

Far from being “dead,” brick-and-mortar retail is evolving to better suit modern, changing customer demands. 90% of transactions still take place inside brick-and-mortar stores, but that percentage shifts more towards online revenue every day, and more and more smart brands are realizing that selling products within their retail spaces is only one of their functions.

In ever-more saturated markets and industries, brands need to stand out from the noise. They need a way to make meaningful, lasting connections with their customers that go beyond just a product. They must transform their retail spaces into experiences that build loyalty. By using retail spaces to create experiences, not transactions, retailers can actually create repeat business and renewable revenue streams that result in multiple, repeated transactions over time.

2. AR, VR, and AI Are Part of Retail’s Future

Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI) are poised to give brands a whole new array of options for creating more engaging, dynamic customer experiences. By properly leveraging them, retailers can position themselves “at the forefront of experience by turning imagination into reality.”

And the reasons are obvious: AR and VR provide a powerful way to do two things: let your customers more fully imagine how your product might improve their lives, and create deeply immersive experiences that resonate and build brand loyalty. From in-store AR “smart mirrors” like those at Nordstrom which allow shoppers to “try on” different outfits without lifting a finger, to interior design VR apps that let customers stroll through a virtual “living room” to test-drive furniture, this technology is set to explode in 2018.

Indeed, analysts in China predict investment in AR/VR in the U.S. will grow by $8.5 billion by 2020, and VR apps are already experiencing 184% growth domestically. With further studies suggesting 59% of customers would prefer to use AR for furniture shopping, it holds real promise for retail. Other tech showing promise in the retail sector is in-store apps and AI, which can not only suggest items a customer might like based on their prior shopping activity, but thanks to the Internet of Things and the increasing availability of RFID chips (now as a cheap as $0.06 per chip at volume), it can even ping store employees to instruct them to bring an item directly to the shopper.

But beware! If not deployed properly or with a specific purpose, AR and VR are little more than shiny new toys to distract your customers. They should add value and/or simplify some process for your brand or your customer. Otherwise, an investment in this tech has little hope of showing returns. These technologies should clarify your brand, not confuse it.

3. Turning Showrooms Into “Do-Rooms”

With the rise of digital channels and the continued optimization of e-commerce storefronts, online purchasing transactions are just as simple – if not simpler – than buying from brick-and-mortar stores for many customers. Which is why retailers are realizing their physical spaces must offer something that online never will: tangible, physical interactions with the product.

One popular way to do this is to hold “unboxing parties” for new product launches. Named after the popular online video trend of removing a new product from its box, unboxing parties are store events where customers can come and check out a new product. They are invited to touch it, hold it, try it out, and perhaps most importantly, ask any questions they might have about it.

Other brands are specifically designing their retail spaces to be perfect places to test drive their products. Whether it’s sports equipment retailers installing batting cages and virtual driving ranges for athletes to try out gear, or audio/visual retailers designing the perfect “man cave” setup complete with couches and popcorn, “do-rooms” are set to be a major trend.

woman writing on a note pad over coffee

4. Recognizing the Value of “Return on Experience”

Sure, forever, the king of all marketing statistics has been return on investment (ROI).  But in 2018, more and more retailers are beginning to understand the value of Return on Experience. The fact of the matter is simply this: customers are having an experience with your retail brand, whether you’re thoughtfully curating that experience or not. The emotional connection – or lack thereof – that your customers feel to your brand is being formed as we speak.

The memory of their experience is coloring their perception of your brand, and their decision whether or not to return to your store is being made right now. To that end, there are three key customer connections retailers should focus to create powerful emotional experiences:

  1. Physical. We are social, touchy-feely creatures. We imprint memories on objects, and we deeply recall tactile sensations. If you can incorporate physical interactions into your retail space – whether with the product itself or with a display – you can boost the emotion of the experience for your customers.
  2. Sensory. We have five senses, yet many retailers stop at sight when designing displays.  Ambient music, as in films, powerfully creates moods, while diffusing scents throughout the store not only adds to the narrative power of your displays, but links your retail space with the most deeply-rooted areas of your customers’ memories, boosting recall and loyalty.
  3. Cognitive. Give your customers something to think about. Engage their minds by creating narrative, intentional displays that will last longer in their memories and make a more powerful emotional connection.

Technology like Emotibot is making it easier for brands to create personalized, emotional experiences for their customers at scale.

5. Invest Time and Budget In Your Innovation Teams

As digital disruption creates a shorter and shorter shelf life for any given business process, many forward-thinking companies are investing in “innovation teams,” designed to study, predict, and adapt to future trends.

At GlobalShop 2018, we identified four keys to a successful innovation team:

  1. Adequate Funding. If you are asking your team to re-think a critical problem, especially at the enterprise level, their funding should be commensurate with the importance of the task before them. Innovation is not an area where you want to skimp, because an underpayment now may become an overpayment down the road.
  2. Autonomy. They must be able to make decisions for themselves. You are asking them to innovate, not to kowtow to existing corporate processes and hierarchies. Give your innovation team room to spread its wings.
  3. License to Fail. Innovation is experimental, and not every experiment is successful the first time. But that’s all right, because the process of innovation is iterative, and only the big risks that may result in failure have the chance of resulting in the kind of game-changing success that brands dream of.
  4. Time to Succeed. Big ideas take time. Innovation is a forward-focused science, and the fruits if your innovation team’s labors may not reveal themselves until some time down the line. Patience is a virtue, and by allowing your team time to work now, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy their success later.

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Getting ahead of these five trends will be important for retail brands moving forward, both now and in the future. Having the agile, responsive marketing supply chain to actually execute these plans will be absolutely critical to making it possible.

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Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

LEARN MORE

How Mobile Presents Big Opportunities for Brick and Mortar Retailers

man looking at mobile - opportunity

Brick-and-mortar retail spaces make it easy for customers to connect with brands via meaningful interactions and vice versa. Retail stores are in many ways more personal and direct that e-commerce transactions. That said, mobile still plays an enormous role in the ongoing success of physical retail spaces, and those stores that can adapt and position themselves to capture these opportunities can set their brand apart.

That’s according to Stephanie Vozza at Shopify, who points out that a recent study found that 92% of consumers want to shop in stores equipped with mobile solutions. And that goes beyond offering in-store WiFi. Here are three of the best ways brick-and-mortar retailers can make their stores more mobile-friendly.

Use Geotargeting, Beacons to Attract Foot Traffic

Location-aware beacon technology allows retailers to deliver highly-targeted mobile ads to users within a set geographic distance of the store. These strategic geotargeting plays provide promotional offers that encourage nearby shoppers to visit your store. They can be deployed around your store, around your competitors’ stores to lure them away and gain market share, or anywhere you prefer. They work, too: the same study found that 85% of respondents would like to receive more geotargeted promotions as part of their retail shopping experience.

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Offer Mobile Payment and Checkout Technology

Bring the speed and convenience of online checkout to your brick-and-mortar shopping experience. Retailers can use mobile wallet apps to allow customers to pay on the sales floor using their smartphones.

“This benefits retailers with long line issues, but also creates a dynamic that allows customers to truly be able to shop on their own terms in a way that is comfortable for them,” Vozza writes. In fact, 61% of shoppers prefer using kiosks and self-checkouts. Shoppers’ preferences are rapidly changing, and the ability to offer personalized experiences that fit their demands will set retailers apart from the crowd.

Welcome Shoppers in for Showrooming

“Showrooming” is a fairly recent ecommerce phenomenon where customers visit stores to check out products in person with the explicit intent of buying them online later. The value-add for brick-and-mortar spaces, in this case, isn’t lower prices or ease of checkout, but how immersive and convenient of a “test drive” experience they can provide with their “showroom.”

Clothing retailer Zara, for example, adds iPads to many of its dressing rooms so customers can quickly and easily request a different size or style to try on. “Fusing the physical and digital world can create powerful and lasting memories for customers and a brand,” Vozza writes.

Here are a few simple ways to get started embracing showrooming:

  1. Establish a reliable WiFi connection in-store so your customers’ mobile devices can link to your network.
  2. Put real customer reviews at your customers’ fingertips with quotes and scores next to product displays.
  3. Offer complimentary overnight shipping, so customers still get that “buy it now” satisfaction that can help them pull the trigger.

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Mobile is changing brick-and-mortar retail. But by planning for this change, and positioning yourself to seize the new opportunities it presents, brands can make sure their physical retail channels stay profitable for many years to come.

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Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

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Future Focus: How Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Can Shift for Success

arrow with success

Far from making brick-and-mortar retail spaces obsolete, the explosion of e-commerce has simply reshaped, and repurposed, the ideal deployment and leverage of retail spaces. That’s according to Alexandra Sheehan on Shopify, who explains that despite the looming challenges of evolving technology, increasing competition, and changing consumer behaviors, smart brands can plan for these changes and create opportunities from them by “future-proofing” their businesses. Let’s take a look at a few key areas poised for forward-looking success.

In-Store Experiences: Driving More Sales

In-store experiences – that is, creating fully immersive multisensory displays that engage with your customers – are becoming increasingly important for multichannel retailers.

“Unique store experiences give shoppers a compelling reason to visit a location and engage with a brand,” Sheehan explains. Beyond the normal value-adding propositions of promotional marketing materials, unique in-store experiences help drive traffic to your brick-and-mortar stores and more revenue through your physical channels. They are a clever way to diversify your revenue streams across a multichannel business model.

What’s more, they create an immersive “identity” for your brand, one that sticks with customers and contributes enormously to brand loyalty. The ability to quickly create dynamic in-store experiences that change to fit your marketing messaging and brand identity will set retailers apart.

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In-Store Events: A Marketing Bonanza

Hosting in-store events are becoming an increasingly popular – and effective – way to increase foot traffic and buzz around brick-and-mortar stores. Fitness apparel retailers, such as Lululemon, have begun hosting yoga classes, complete with branded giveaway mats and water bottles. Anthropologie, the apparel and home goods retailer, hosts pop-up “markets” in its stores and provides shoppers with free, branded tote bags.

The key to the future of physical retail is creating value that online shopping can’t offer. With an agile and reliable marketing supply chain to make sure everything arrives on time, on price, and goes off without a hitch, in-store events are a great way to do just that.

New Customer Behaviors, New Possibilities

One of the most unique phenomena of the age of digital commerce is the rise of “showrooming.” Showrooming is the practice of visiting a brick-and-mortar store to see or interact with a product with the intention of buying it online later.

This requires a fundamental re-thinking of best practices for in-store marketing materials and displays. Before e-commerce, with physical as the only or primary channel, it was important to devote floor space to as many of your available products as possible, and to make that space easily navigable. Now, with digital analytics, creating high-conversion, engaging, narrative in-store displays for the most in-demand, best-selling, or highest profit-margin products can lead to greater revenue and marketing ROI. Brands must invest the time, effort, and resources towards understanding these new and changing marketing best practices, because they truly are an investment in ongoing future success.

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Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

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Retail Marketing Trends to Watch in 2018

2018 is set to be a big year for the retail industry. New tax laws mean many brands are reinvesting in their marketing efforts and looking for ways to stand out from their competition this year.

By keeping a few select trends in mind, and properly prioritizing the efforts that add value for their customers, retail marketers can stay ahead of the pack and realize more revenue. That’s according to Pamela Danziger of Forbes, who shares the most important marketing trends that retail experts have predicted for 2018.

Shifting Roles for Brick-and-Mortar

Brick-and-mortar stores for decades were by default the main revenue source for retailers, and online and e-commerce avenues supplemented these operations. “In the early days of the internet, retailers incentivized shoppers to spend money online by offering lower prices at their websites,” says Danziger.

Now, customers simply expect to find lower prices online, as well as a more convenient point-and-click shopping experience. “To justify the expense of their brick-and-mortar stores, retailers need to start giving time-starved consumers a reason to travel and shop in-person,” writes Danziger. These “reasons” now often include gifts with purchase and special in-store promotions.

Further, brick-and-mortar stores are poised to continue shifting towards becoming “experience” centers, with “experiential” marketing booming in importance. “Giving customers a deeper and more differentiated brand experience,” writes Danziger, is the new big value proposition for brick-and-mortar retailers. Using eye-catching displays, print and promotional materials, and special point-of-sale branding will help draw customers back into brick-and-mortar stores.

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The Rising Role of Marketing Logistics

As Danziger describes them, logistics are “not the sexiest topic in retail, but logistics will be a defining issue in 2018.” She explains that “as shoppers come to expect that all of the best stores are omnichannel, the ability for brands to deliver products quickly and painlessly will separate the strong from the weak.”

Well-managed marketing logistics, made possible by a highly-optimized marketing supply chain, allow brands to be truly responsive to customer demands and proactive about upcoming trends.  It also enables them to offer their customers value-adding perks, like in-store pickup, promotions, and branding mirroring what they’ve experienced online, and engaging, easy-to-navigate displays. “Nobody wants to revisit a brand that makes shopping feel like work,” Danziger writes.

By partnering with a trusted marketing logistics expert like NVISION, your brand can consistently deliver these high-value retail experiences on-time, within budget, and in a way that builds loyalty among your customers. That’s one 2018 trend that everyone can get behind.

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Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

LEARN MORE