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Why brands need to embrace sophisticated technologies to stay ahead of the creative game

February 18, 2015

Brands are increasingly recognising the importance of creativity and its power to influence market share. This has led to a growing trend of creative competiveness, which has seen brands vying to outdo each other in their quest to be seen as the most original. This sudden rush to gain a reputation for being cool and innovative has been supported by disruptive ads, enhanced digital experiences, buzz marketing and out-of-the-box thinking and has now become an essential part of marketers’ strategies.

 

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Creativity as the starting point.

For a brand, employing a creative strategy relies on embracing the latest, sophisticated technologies with enthusiasm, while keeping a multidisciplinary approach. What is surprising, though, is that not so long ago many brands could have been put in the category of “early majority” or “late majority”,  in accordance with Rogers’ bell curve model about the innovation adoption lifecycles (figure 1).

Undeniably, creativity today is also tied to online technologies. The retail industry, for example, took a long time to realise the unlimited potential of digital; not only in regard to ecommerce, but also in relation to the online to in-store customer journey, webrooming & showrooming, storytailing etc.   Fortunately, however, there seems to have been a change in this mentality in recent years, with retail brands today taking more and more steps to embrace creativity, resulting in them clearly becoming “early adopters” and “innovators,” helping to enhance the user experience.

 

A new way of working: inspiration is everywhere.

To help support creativity, brands are starting to establish new working schemes and are hiring staff who have the ability to predict the next big digital trends or even better, to create new behaviours. Digital natives are pushing the boundaries of innovation and leading from the front: they draw their inspiration from YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, bloggers, artists, creative people and talents from a variety of backgrounds to drive creativity by developing and implementing new concepts. However, there are certain areas where brands still struggle to be creative, and where they aren’t making the most of the opportunities that present themselves. This is where sophisticated marketing technologies can come into play, helping brands to bolster their creative strategies.

 

Where creativity should be improved.

Over 34 million local searches are made every day in the UK. Behind this figure hides an insatiable customer need for precise, local and up-to-date information. With such clear customer demand, the time for pretexts and excuses is over: we are living in an era in which there are more technological solutions available than technological issues.

It therefore makes sense for marketers to seize the opportunity to give people what they really want, and implement solutions that really make their lives easier. Sophisticated local marketing tools help brands foster connections between customers and their local outlets. A recent Internet Retailing report revealed that 74 percent of customers like to see whether an item they’re searching for is in stock at a nearby store. Therefore, by providing the customer with this information when they’re searching for a local outlet, they are able to not only find out where they can buy their chosen brand, but also if what they’re looking for is in store. This approach is proven to dramatically improve the customer experience, driving footfall to stores and improving customer retention and loyalty.

With local marketing gaining momentum, marketers are faced with a number of options to choose from. However, the abundance of providers means marketers often struggle to choose a quality solution. When investing in local marketing, it is therefore important that brands thoroughly research the options available, to ensure they opt for a provider that will really help them to drive sales.

 

Put the customer experience at the heart of your online strategy.

Brands are not only judged by the quality of their products and services, but also by their capacity to provide exceptional online user experiences. When on the Internet, patience is an unusual quality. Every detail counts and the slightest glitch could cause you to lose customers. Ensuring a smooth and seamless customer experience is mandatory including the ease of site navigation and the perfect balance between differentiating designs. It’s also important to offer a consistent choice both in terms of products and also in terms of customer relationship services for example: social media responsiveness, payment methods, collection of the product, loyalty programs and services…By putting the customer experience at the heart of your online strategy, you will increase the chance of them engaging with your brand, ultimately helping to increase sales, customer loyalty and customer retention.

 

Give impetus to the buying decision process.

The time has long since passed when the only way to engage was the “BUY NOW” button. At that time, the major difference was that the online visitor was already convinced and ready to buy. It was only for the convenience of paying online and being delivered. Today, a brand’s website has become a fundamental step in the buying decision process. Visitors expect to be reassured, agreeably surprised, and supported during the purchasing process. To attract and retain customers, it’s therefore important that brands respond to these changes in buyer behaviour and adapt to customers’ way of purchasing. That’s why you have to feed their need for complementary information and relevant content in a very easy and convenient way.

We are living at a time when shoppers spend more time online to compare products, see more pictures, read reviews or find vouchers. Brands need to get the right tools to be part of these steps, and retain the visitor on their website.  Through adopting this approach, brands will diversify the customer experience and increase the number of paths to purchase. In addition, these creative approaches to marketing strategies will strengthen the relationship between customer and brand, again helping to build customer loyalty. To conclude, being creative is not incompatible with your IT strategy, but rather it can be a vital tool in helping to dramatically improve results. . Densifying and diversifying your presence and your content will please today’s customers and their ever-increasing expectations, so brands shouldn’t be afraid to widen the field of possibilities. With sophisticated technologies such as local marketing solutions, it’s now easier than ever for brands to think outside the box to really engage with their customers, giving them a creative edge.

This post was originally published on Fourth Source.

 


Solocal Blog Introduction

August 20, 2014

Welcome to the first post of Solocal Group UK’s blog, designed to offer brands and businesses insight and advice on how to navigate today’s digital landscape and turn online traffic into in-store custom.

Whilst statistics show that 88% of consumers research a product online before buying, converting online searches into in-store sales can often prove challenging for brands, retailers and service providers. As an innovative provider of digital marketing solutions, Solocal Group exists to solve this challenge. Its solutions enable brands and businesses to drastically improve their revenues, by connecting customers with brands along the online to in-store customer journey. It has extensive experience in Europe, supporting over 650,000 local and national advertising customers, and has recently launched Solocal Group UK; a dedicated UK subsidiary, designed to bring Solocal Group’s  expertise to the British market.

Solocal Group UK specialises in multichannel digital marketing, and employs three key tactics to help improve businesses’ revenues:

It takes the time to understand what matters to consumers, meaning that it is able to create excellent campaigns which connect retailers to their customers, yielding fantastic results.

This blog will share Solocal Group’s tips for driving customers from web to store, with the first post looking at the concept of ‘webrooming’, examining the impact online research has on in-store sales, and what retailers can do to capitalise on this growing trend.


How webrooming and omnichannel retail is bringing customers back in-store

August 20, 2014

There has been an undeniable change in people’s buying habits in recent years, with how consumers choose to buy and research products evolving as technology does. Armed with smartphones and tablets, consumers now have access to multiple retail channels throughout the entire customer journey, prompting retailers to adapt to accommodate this.

The extent in which retailers have begun to do this and optimise for mobile can be seen in the IAB Mobile Retail Audit, released in June 2013. The study found that 74% of the top 50 UK retailers had a mobile optimised site, 64% of the retailers have an app, but only 48% have a store locator on their mobile site.

As a result of the increase in online activity, two trends have emerged in the retail industry, which have been dubbed ‘webrooming’ and ‘showrooming’. To define these terms, showrooming is when a customer visits a store to view a product and then makes the purchase online, whereas webrooming refers to the reverse; researching online to then purchase in-store.

Merchant Warehouse recently published a report which demonstrated the growth of webrooming, and highlighted how researching online directly impacted sales in bricks and mortar stores. The study revealed that people tend to research online or on a mobile device before going on to purchase in-store, with 69% of smartphones users aged 18-36 years having practiced webrooming, compared to only 50% who practice showrooming. The findings also show that nearly 80% of local searches on mobile turn into a purchase, with nearly 90% of these purchases being made in-store, highlighting just how important a tool the internet is for driving in-store sales.

This way of thinking can be further supported by a recent report from L2 and Rich Relevance, which examined omnichannel retail tactics and the importance of implementing an omnichannel strategy to take full advantage of webrooming. The study found that by improving the in-store shopping experience and process for the customer as a whole, retailers became able to convert showroomers into webroomers.

As a result of today’s digital age, consumers are beginning to expect omnichannel capabilities, making it essential that suitable cross-channel solutions are in place to meet this need. Being able to offer online ordering with in-store pick up services, easy to navigate store locators, product availability checking or appointment booking, for example, are all tactics retailers can use to drive traffic in-store and increase brand loyalty.

If recent studies have shown us anything, it is that modern technology and cross-channel solutions are empowering the customer, and are an excellent means of providing them with a relatively unlimited amount of information. If used correctly, the omnichannel retail experience is a powerful thing, and one which retailers should utilise as a valuable tool for creating a better customer experience, leading to increased revenue and better customer retention.