The changing role of physical stores across 2020 looks likely to continue into the future where, even as shoppers return to normality, social media and other digital channels continue to be vitally important for communicating with customers and presenting your business online. With this change has come a demand for accuracy and measurable results;
New research from Hootsuite into digital trends over the course of 2020 found that 85% of organisations that integrate social data into other systems have confidence in their organisation’s ability to accurately quantify the ROI of social media. Bridging the gap between engagement, customer identity, and data utilisation is a key challenge for many businesses, and with social media as one of the strongest bridges for connecting with customers, businesses will be looking to digital to strengthen their successes.
Whilst the sudden switch to relying almost entirely on digital sales is unlikely to happen again – with businesses maintaining their new focus through 12 months of highstreet uncertainty, rather than returning to their previous business plans – there are many other unexpected events that could still occur, and business leaders as well as advertisers now know precisely how difficult sudden changes can be. By combining this greater awareness of the need for flexibility with a re-evaluation of the roles that marketing channels play in strategy.
Changing attitudes towards physical locations or brick & mortar store fronts have been only amplified by the changes to purchasing habits during 2020, and it has encouraged businesses to think of physical store investment as a vehicle for customer acquisition, rather than purely as a distribution venue for products. In other words, in the same vein as a retailer might consider media investments or brand partnerships, a physical location can be the perfect method for advertising, giving customers a specific experience that drives their later acquisitions elsewhere.
Indeed, while many retailers are striving to re-create the in-store experience online ‘ such as adding more ‘human’ elements like one-to-one virtual appointments ‘ retail stores are also looking to make the in-store experience more akin to digital. This means an experience that’s quicker, seamless, and connected. In doing so, retailers are able to open up new opportunities to capture consumer data, and lock in omnichannel sales.
Customer service and after-sales support channels need to be aligned and empowered to solve problems fast and on behalf of customers. Investments need to be made to seek out the problems customers are having and design solutions quickly ‘ whether through content, messaging or directly back into product development and iteration.
With customers likely to prioritise factors like speed, convenience, and safety going forward, these kinds of in-store services ‘ which require customers to connect with multiple channels (rather than just the store itself) ‘ could become more popular. In turn, giving retailers more chances to turn potential customers into new and returning ones.