In-Store Marketing Experts Demystify the Shift to Digital

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THE SHIFT TO DIGITAL over the past 12 months raises questions about the ongoing relevance of stores and in-store marketing. Not to worry – even as more shoppers buy more of their goods online, stores remain the primary selling channel – for most categories.

Retail has never evolved faster. The ripple effects will continue to impact this industry for many years, even after the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic fade in memory.

For this expert roundup, our good friends at Tokinomo gathered some of the most influential voices in the industry to share what they expect is next for in-store marketing. I was privileged to participate and offer some detailed comments.

How will in-store marketers respond? My esteemed colleagues and I offer a range of observations and opinions, encompassing: “The Year Ahead”; “In-Store Promotions Tools”: “Hybrid Shopping”; “COVID-19 Impact” and more.

The discussion was a golden opportunity to share some of my best licks with some of the brightest minds in our industry. A few highlights to whet your appetites:

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The Five Yeses of Retail Tech Marketing

five yeses tensers tirades

IF YOU HAVE a great retail technology solution to offer, five yeses control your future.

You already know – more or less – who the decision-makers are at each target account: the CIO, the head of store operations, the head of merchandising, the CFO, and the CEO.

Each of these individuals has the power to say “no.” If your solution doesn’t seem to align with one of their objectives, the game may be over. You need all their heads nodding to close the sale. Is your story designed to be persuasive to all five yeses?

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Rise of the Retail Robots

rise of the retail robots

FRUSTRATED WITH STORE EMPLOYEES? Maybe a mechanical clerk is the answer.

The retail industry today is making some fascinating, promising, and perhaps troubling moves toward the routine use of autonomous retail robots in human environments. The efforts seem energized by technical advances, affordability gains, and increasing wages for their human counterparts.

“Everybody is beginning to talk about robotics as a way to remove labor from the system,” said David Marcotte, a senior vice president with consulting firm Kantar Retail, a friend of this blog, in an interview in the Star Tribune newspaper.

As a confirmed sci-fi geek (occasionally prone to paranoid fantasy), I’m both fascinated and a bit leery about this development. There’s little doubt, however, that the robots are coming to retail from numerous directions.

Tenser’s Three Laws of Retail Robotics:

1 – A retail robot may not harm, mislead or impede a shopper, or, through inaction, allow a shopper to fail to complete a sale or have an otherwise poor experience.

2 – A retail robot must faithfully implement the merchandising plans given it by retailers except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3 – A retail robot must encourage and protect the sale, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

(Adapted with great reverence from i Robot, by Isaac Asimov.)

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Independent Grocers – 3 Ways to Gain a Trade Promotions Edge

NGA, LAS VEGAS – When it comes to capturing their fair share of impact from trade deals, independent grocers have long struggled to match their crosstown, big-chain rivals. Scale is a key challenge. The effort and resources required to identify, negotiate, accept, implement and publish a single promotion are the same, whether the execution is for 12 stores or 1,200.

Big chains may spread these tasks across more hands, but they also suffer from promotion practice logjams and disconnects that may tend to neutralize their advantage, due to versioning complexity, duplication of effort, review and rework.

Make the Effort-to-Benefit Ratio Work for You

The opportunity is open for smaller retailers – who are inherently more consolidated, nimble and fleet of foot – to gain an edge in the promotions game. It comes down to defining and enabling promotion practices that permit streamlining and collaboration across the enterprise. Independents should explore three areas of present opportunity:

  • Streamline and connect your processes. Neutralize the scale advantage by making promotion decisions faster and adopting disciplined executional processes that offset the differential effort. Use automation to reduce and simplify steps and ensure that correct information is in play across functional areas of your business. Harmony is enabled when you successfully align the creative process with the business decisions.
  • Collaborate within your enterprise. Structure your ad process for collaboration and design connectivity throughout the lifecycle of each promotion, from planning, to execution, to measurement. Establish a consistent workflow with roles defined, assigned and tracked.
  • Collaborate with your vendors. Establish a portal-based system that transfers responsibility to vendors to enter complete information about each offered deal and makes it better for them to do so. Online accuracy will make faxes, emails and paper forms a thing of the past. Negotiations and decisions will commence faster while minimizing the need for reviews, changes and reconciliations.

These trade promotion management capabilities are enabled by software solutions but rooted in best practice. They are quite readily available now, and adopting them can be far less disruptive than you might think, especially where web-based technology is available.

The right promotional tools and processes can enable independents to exploit their natural advantages to win with shoppers and capture a fair share of deal profits.

© Copyright 2014 James Tenser
(This article was originally commissioned by Aptaris LLC. Permalink. Republished here by permission. All other rights reserved.)