As physical retail tentatively resumes, it is becoming clear that how the retail landscape looks in May 2021 is very different from how many thought it would look at the start of April.
Shoppers have returned to stores – many simply for something different to do – but how they are shopping is very different. Now they are truly omni-channel.
And this presents new challenges to online retailers looking for growth: where are these shoppers and how can they be effectively engaged and sold to when they are now not only distracted by the plethora of online retailers all vying for their attention, but now also the stores that have reopened?
The answer lies in looking to be where they are, rather than trying to seek them out in more traditional ways. Social media, video and live streaming, as well as gamification are all the new ways that retailers need to embrace to be where their customers are.
For example, SimplyHair, a global salon supplies wholesaler, reveals hair and beauty business owners are focusing on social media to grow their business. A survey it undertook of salon owners found that 44% of respondents said they are focusing on growing their businesses’ social media profile this year. 35% of hair professionals see growing their social media profile as offering the biggest opportunities for business growth. Nine out of ten (89%) salon owners believe social media presence has a strong or very strong influence on how a client chooses a salon.
Furthermore, 78% of hair and beauty professionals agree that a strong social media following will help them to attract higher-paying clientele and justify charging more for current services. The survey suggests social media platforms are more important for business growth than a company website as less than a tenth (9%) of hair professionals’ primary business focus is website development.
Not for nothing then that Pinterest and Shopify are expanding their partnership to boost global social commerce for smaller and growing businesses.
Many niche retailers – especially in the luxury sector – have embraced live streaming to help connect with consumers. With more shoppers than ever looking for live video content on the web to help them find and understand products, it is starting to get some real traction.
Moda Operandi, Gucci and Ted Baker are all doing it and its giving them much needed online traction – as well as acting as a substitute for physical retail.
Similarly, Fashion brands are teaming up with games makers to provide in-game kit for gamer characters, using it as the ultimate 21st Century product placement. It is after all where many target audience members for many youth brands are now to be found.
According to App Annie, gamers downloaded around a billion titles every week in Q1, while total consumer spend on gaming hit $22 billion. More tellingly, Louis Vuitton, which provided branded gear and skins for League of Legends saw that when the tie up started, downloads of the app went up. In August 2020 alone, there were more than 120,000 downloads.
These new ways of reaching out to audiences are becoming essential in the new retail world that we face and are the biggest opportunity – and challenge – the industry currently faces. Get it right and growth will follow.