Retail sales are forecasted to grow between 3.8% and 4.4% this year, according to the National Retail Federation.
So, why are we seeing constant headlines about the 8,000+ stores that will close their doors in 2019?
Put simply: The retailers that are struggling to stay afloat are failing to align with customer expectations. Meantime, those who are innovating with new tools are seeing incredible results.
Conor Ryan, Co-Founder & CIO of StitcherAds, and Kevin St. John, Industry Manager for Retail at Facebook, discussed what a forward-thinking retail strategy looks like at the 2019 CommerceNext conference.
Conor and Kevin summed it up in these four points.
1. Reduce friction at every stage of the shopper journey.
The consumers of today expect to discover products and buy them without running into roadblocks. However, many retailers are not delivering those seamless experiences. Kevin St. John broke down how Facebook thinks about reducing friction throughout the customer journey.
In the pre-purchase phase, the platform is helping retailers deliver personalization to users who are inclined to love their products. Facebook is also making it easier for consumers to learn where nearby store locations are – reducing as much friction as possible as they move from online to offline.
During the purchase stage, retailers are tapping into Instagram Checkout. This feature allows shoppers to complete a purchase without ever leaving the app. Customers fill out their billing info the first time they check out, and that information is securely saved so the next time shoppers go to buy – it’s all there.
And post-purchase, people expect rapid fulfillment, status updates, and support. That’s where Messenger is playing a big role for retailers, Kevin said.
2. Optimize and personalize campaigns for an omnichannel customer.
Developing an effective omnichannel strategy and driving personalization is top of mind for nearly every retailer.
But one of the challenges lies in centralizing cross-channel data.
“All retailers have their own custom requirements,” Conor said. “They have different ways to organize product data and local inventory data; their CRM is another system; their UGC lives somewhere else. There are all of these data sources that need to be structured correctly to power that personalization.”
Conor said that retailers who are working with StitcherAds are pulling in data from all of these sources and using it to amplify dynamic creative.
“Now in an ad, we are able to show someone what their nearest store is and prices, product availability, and inventory level in that specific store. (Shoppers) are getting the fundamental part of the omnichannel experience that they’ve come to expect,” he said.
Retailers who work with StitcherAds are pairing that omnichannel experience with even more dynamic creative, like user-generated content and star ratings. They are also illustrating available purchase options to shoppers (online, in-store, buy online pick-up in-store, etc.).
3. Quickly test and learn what converts.
Kevin outlined what separates innovative retailers from those who are struggling when it comes to measurement.
“Post-click is not a great metric for online, and it’s definitely not a great metric for in-store. More than 90% of retailers’ sales have no-click beforehand. So, if that’s the only thing you’re looking at … it’s probably misleading.”
Sophisticated retailers are developing multi-touch attribution models to understand what’s effective. But, the number one thing Kevin is seeing from leading Facebook advertisers is that “they’ve really been focused on lift measurement. They are trying to understand the true incremental impact of their media. It’s the gold standard of measurement.”
4. Work with Facebook Marketing Partners for help scaling and innovating.
Facebook’s partner ecosystem has worked out well for the platform, Kevin said. “It allows us to connect our retailers to trusted and approved partners who can build upon what we already enable.”
A good example of that is the work partners like StitcherAds is doing with digital circulars. Many retailers that advertise on Facebook want to repurpose their print offerings onto the platform but have difficulties scaling and allocating resources toward this marketing program.
Conor explained how StitcherAds is doing this for major retailers like JOANN.
“What JOANN has managed to do is reuse all of the creative and all of the data in their (print) circulars digitally,” he said. “They’ve created an evergreen, always-on digital circular campaign that is specifically optimized to those in-store buyers. … As a result, they are seeing fantastic year-on-year results both in their online and in-store sales.”
Want to watch the full session?
Conor and Kevin shared success stories and additional insights into how retailers are innovating on Facebook & Instagram – like how leading advertisers are leveraging recommendation engines to drive engagement from loyalty shoppers. Don’t miss the replay!