According to our resident retail expert, John Andrews, the sector was reacting to change like a frog slowly cooking in a pot, then comes Covid-19 and the heat has been cranked up. How should retailers react?
Retail has been in a state of change for years now. After a fitful start in Dotcom1, alternative channels have been growing steadily and offering shoppers a multitude of ways to discover, obtain, and service stuff that does and does not include a store. Shoppers have responded in ways that aren’t linear but rather they have started shopping how THEY wanted to vs. how they were previously able to.
Many retailers responded to these changes, some slowly, others in more of a bandaid approach, not really taking it seriously. Shoppers tried different models, using what worked best for THEM. Things went on pretty predictably from there. Some retailers prospered and took share from others. People debated the mythical ‘retail apocalypse’ as the frog in the pot began to heat up.
Then Covid-19 hit.
What was an optional channel became a necessary one. Almost overnight, a third of households ordered their groceries online. The battle for their hearts and minds, not to mention their share of wallet, is right this damn minute.
Strategic plans are out the window, as every timeline has been accelerated dramatically, and the best strategy is the ability to get shit done in reaction to changing behavior. Shoppers are not only being exposed to new channels at a much more rapid pace, but they are also actively shopping and comparing services
These initial shopping experiences are literally deciding the future winners of the retail space. While there are some clear leaders, and companies that were already well-positioned to accommodate this immediate need, everyone has an equal opportunity to impress and capture loyal customers…. NOT later, but NOW!
With this flip of the channel switch, several other components are lagging the sudden shopper behavior change… particularly digital media still designed mostly to serve the bulk of in-store shoppers. Sure there is plenty of e-commerce digital content, but noticeably absent is the connective tissue that bridges the gap between stores and e-commerce.
This is the relevance factor for shoppers that will bring it all together. The scaled brand messaging, coupled with the personal authenticity of the local store. Connecting the two is something that can and should be driven at the local level, but we are still in the era of the forlorn local Facebook page with sparse, generic content.
Who has time for that, right?
A new layer of marketing is growing thanks to changes in how we think about content creation being centralized, and one size fits all, to a decentralized and more personally relevant model. This is especially important in a time where retail itself is in a constant state of flux from the inventory a given store may carry to its local ordinances for shopping.
The local employee is, in fact, the face and backbone of what’s keeping the store functional, and one who knows more about the shopping environment, and the shopper, than anyone else. Retailers that enable, encourage, and empower those employees to become part of the content creation and distribution layer utilizing Employee Created Content, #ECC, will have huge advantages over their competitors.
Employee Created Content (#ECC) extends brand messaging by over 500%
Empower your Employees… and they will Power your Brand’s evolving and emerging #RetailRelevancy.
Learn more about Employee Created Content (ECC) and Photofy in our latest Long Play (our take on the eBook) that you can download for free!
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