Some believe the retail apocalypse is upon us. Thousands of brick-and-mortar stores from some of the world’s biggest brands are closing as more and more consumers prefer to make purchases online rather than go to physical shops. But is retail actually dying?
Not quite. Today’s customers simply prefer shifting from online to offline, device to device, while staying on the same purchase journey.
Consider this: you find yourself looking at poster for a newly-released novel outside a bookstore. You go in, read the synopsis on the back cover, but it’s not enough. You look it up on your smartphone and find it has a 4.7-star average review from over 5,000 users. You thought about buying it in store, but decided to wait until payday to make the purchase. Payday comes and a retargeted ad shows up on your Facebook newsfeed. You buy the novel—but decide last minute to get the e-book version so you don’t have to lug a hardbound on your commute.
Retailers need to recognize that their longevity will rely on making the in-store shopping experience sync with their online buyer’s journey. This seamless online-offline brand experience is possible with the right elements of content marketing.
Here are some of those elements you need to consider to ensure long-term retail success.
User-generated content (UGC) is a powerful marketing tool. After all, who is a better advocate for your products than the people happily and proudly consuming them?
GoPro, the leading manufacturer of action cameras, illustrates this using their Instagram, which is essentially a hub of user-generated content. The company has a year-round GoPro Awards campaign designed to motivate their community to get creative and share their moments using their GoPro cameras.
As a result, photos and videos are contributed from their community everyday (#gopro has over 43 million posts at the time of writing), making GoPro arguably the best at turning UGC into marketing gold.
Using videos to hard sell is a thing of the past. To thrive as a retail brand, it’s important to use online videos as a storytelling tool that introduces the brand to consumers as something that provides them value.
Take Macy’s video strategy as an example. Most of their videos on YouTube aren’t extensive and don't have high production value. They focus on providing value to their audience: how to create a go-to look in 5 minutes, how to tie a tie, coordinate clothing and accessories, simple skincare routines and tips. These short but insightful videos bring value to their target audience and encourage them to shop from you.
If you’re looking to enhance your digital customer experience, augmented reality (AR) is something to seriously consider. AR is no longer just some tech for fun and games; it enables customers to get the interactive experience of a computer-generated product in a real-world setting.
IKEA does this with their augmented reality catalogue app, which lets the customer place a piece of furniture in their home—without actually buying it yet. Using the mobile app, a customer can try different variations of the product, such as sizes and colors, to see which one fits their home best.
AR offers both the convenience of online shopping and the ability to digitally interact with the product, as if it’s physically there with you.
Influencer marketing is an effective strategy for retail brands to connect with their audience. By collaborating with an influencer whose followers match your ideal customer, you reach the exact people you want to follow and buy from your brand.
While influencer marketing can be applied by any retail brand, fashion retailers are the ones who typically include influencers in their strategy. Actors, models, or any fashion influencer wearing your products is an amazing way to reach new and potential customers. They have likely already developed a large following that trusts and values their opinion, so working with these influencers will help drive their followers to your fashion brand.
Retail is not about to go anywhere, but the marketing landscape that will help it grow is changing. Consider including these content marketing strategies to engage your customers and improve your brand experience both online and offline.