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Digital Marketing

Consumer Corner with Jim & Michael

Jim: Michael, how was your vacation?
Michael: Ended too fast, too fast. We had a wonderful time in Freedom, NH, but freedom is now over. The days are getting shorter, the barbecues are wrapping up, and I even spotted a school bus this morning.Caricature
Jim: Only 127 day until Christmas.
Michael: And only 100 days until Black Friday…jeesh!
Jim: And so it begins, as retailers put the finishing touches on fresh apps and systems right about now, getting them tested and ready for peak season. I am excited to see a few new innovations this year to connect with consumers, even after last year’s efforts.
Michael: We’ve seen some cool stuff recently as digital, social, and mobile have really begun to hit their stride. But with all the tools available, I’m still hearing from many of our clients who keep asking how they can drive store traffic, get shoppers in more often, spending more money. Ah, retail.
Jim: Even in an always-connected-world, where shoppers can get what they want with just one click, the store matters. After all, online sales are still hovering at just around 10% of total revenues.
Michael: But growing rapidly; something in the neighborhood of 60% over the next few years, by my reading.
Jim: I’m seeing similar numbers, but the best retailers have started to figure out that blending digital and physical channels has greater potential for creating a better shopping experience. Even pure online players, like Bonobos and Warby Parker, are opening their doors – literally. And multichannel shoppers are spending accordingly.
Michael: The hype might have us believe that the convenience of online shopping is enough for consumers. But I think if you dig a little deeper there is more to it. I know, at least in my household, that there is just so much I can do before I need to touch a thing or get some professional advice.
Jim: Same here. Stores provide a lot that the online world cannot: immediacy, knowledge, service; even the emotional connection through the personal touch. But I think it’s also a little more nuanced. The reasons that consumers will engage digitally or in-store vary by category, demographic, ethnographic, psychographic and where the consumer is on their shopping journey.
Michael: Retailers need to be smarter about when and how to engage, both inside and outside of the store, combine these experiences with more inventiveness, and take more risks. Sometimes it just seems like worlds colliding vs. enmeshing; old age vs, new age.
Jim: I agree. It’s got to be about designing compelling consumer experiences to not only enable shopping, but inspire the shopper. Outside of the store, retailers have been providing deep product information and insight online to quench a shopper’s thirst for information about a product, including how it functions and where we can get the best value with shopping and wish lists going virtual and mobile. Even basic web searches now include localized information on product availability and price – all great conveniences for the consumer.
Michael: Which can drive demand and store traffic.
Jim: Yes, but once they are in the store, the journey isn’t over yet. Everything from store wayfinding, to digital price checks, to mobile self-checkout are helping to make the in-store experience worth the drive. And retail is beginning to up their game with such offerings as concierge services –once a perk of high end fashion retailers– making their way into new formats, like Home Depot’s In-Store Appointment Maker where you can meet with a product specialist to help you plan your home improvement project, self-scheduled online, of course. But these experiences –both online and in-store– should be as seamless as possible. And, as I mentioned before, they need to make sense by category, demo, and stage.
Michael: So the struggle can’t be between in-store vs. online. It’s about blending the experiences.
Jim: Yes, togetherness. Yet another thing to look forward to this and every holiday season!
Michael: Hail the consumer!

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Jim Hertzfeld, Principal and Chief Strategist

Jim Hertzfeld is Principal and Chief Strategist for Perficient, and works with clients to make their customers and shareholders happy through insanely great digital experiences.

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