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Your customer's journey is becoming ever more complex and harder to predict. While your marketing team may hold inbound marketing as the golden ticket when it comes to creating content for retail, today's customers have become more aware of when they are being forced into a funnel.

If there is one thing a customer will resist, it is obvious and blatant marketing, and that can prove tricky when deciding on your strategy. The key is to combine clever marketing strategies with your ‘bricks and mortar’ physical store. Here’s how.

Why brick-and-mortar still matters

You would be correct in thinking that e-commerce remains king, and traditional brick-and-mortar stores remain under threat of closure, a thought backed up by the recent financial struggles of many of the big High Street names. The convenience and speed of online shopping have changed retail forever, however it is not perfect, nor can it replace the service offered by physical stores.

There is a growing trend in customers wanting to diversify their retail experience, particularly in sectors where product quality is scrutinised carefully, such as groceries, beauty and grooming. When surveyed by consumer watchdogs, 72% of Gen-Z customers said that they would prefer to still shop in-store over online solely, if only to test a product. Since the spending power of Gen-Z was supposed to signify the end of traditional retail as we know it, these figures should make you take a step back and reconsider your content marketing strategies. It seems the future of retail content production will not be, in fact, solely based on smartphone resolutions, and neither will it be back to simply relying on display boards and shelf wobblers.

Integrating digital with physical

Digital has already impacted physical retail stores significantly, with the introduction of cashierless technologies such as self-service scanners and bays to reduce queue times and increase customer engagement in the sales process . Considering a customer will on average spend six times more time in a bricks and mortar store than on an e-commerce site,  you stand to capitalise from further blending your digital and physical retail content strategy. Essentially, your instructions on how to use a self-service scanner could boost sales more than a traditional BOGOF incentive stickered to a product. 

Using content as a means to actively engage your customers, through new digital tools, could completely transform your sales turnover and marketing ROI. Other ways to integrate digital with physical include:

  • Stock-check screens
  • QR-code scanners to redeem codes and offers
  • Beacon integrations, which alert customers to new store information as they shop
  • Location-based chatbots, which automatically generate answers to customer concerns
  • Collection bays for online orders, which reduce shipping costs
  • Price comparison tools, to show you care about your customer getting the best deal
  • Adverts for smartphone apps which incentivise customers to pre-order online and get app-exclusive deals, further integrating customers into your ecosystem
  • AR integrations that allow customers to visualise products or collect information about products within their camera's viewfinder, such as customer reviews or manufacturer warranties.
Placement and purpose of your content

Although you will be writing content for your digital tools, you also need to create content for retail within the actual store, which can be difficult to master. Beyond typical sales deals and tactics, some teams can struggle to come up with innovative, creative ideas month after month when it comes to physical marketing. While your customer will always want the benefits of a bargain, they increasingly want the guidance and assistance that comes from bricks and mortar stores, and your content can contribute greatly to a positive user experience.

Instead of focusing solely on the 'what' of your marketing message, you need to think more of the 'where' and 'why'. Placement and purpose of content are just as important as the product in the modern retail space. The integration of your digital in-store retail services and visual merchandising needs to be seamless, so your content helps customers rather than sells to them, which the products invariably already do.

Aesthetics, design and structure in your store will play a vital role in deciding on your placement and purpose. It is important to maintain a sense of familiarity and consistency for customers, who expect the same messaging as what they have seen on your website. It is highly recommended you structure your retail stores like your online stores with clear departmentalisation. You should also use the same divisors for in-store signs that customers use in advanced searches online, e.g. dividing by colour, size, price, etc. 

Readdressing omnichannel approaches

Despite the need to create content for in-store digital tools and physical signage, the chances are your marketing budget is already committed to an omnichannel marketing strategy, involving social media, PPC and SEO. 

While omnichannel strategies are not decreasing in necessity, it is worth revising the success of each channel and ensuring that all channels you use are coordinated and converging to the same point in a customer journey. Lack of communication between internal marketing teams, who are divided across individual channels, can cause your overall marketing to be piecemeal and disjointed in message, thereby confusing your customers.

'Divide and conquer' is not the most effective method for marketing. If your messaging is too divided, it may be worth reducing the number of channels you have to increase consistency in message.

The future of retail content production

The sea change in retail trends has already greatly impacted how we market products and it’s certainly not slowing down. The current trend for eco-friendliness and reducing consumption is going to further change how retailers create content. Concerns regarding climate change have led to a worldwide conversation regarding sustainability and retail is a heavy contributor to concerns

The end of single-use plastics, unethical supply chains, and greenhouse gas pollution caused by factories and transport will transform how you use your physical spaces and how you communicate with customers. You should aim to increase your use of recyclable and/or zero-waste materials, in both your products and your marketing content, where your message is not just words and pictures, but the very materials you use to convey the message.

To summarise, content production for retailers is changing in line with consumers’ demands for a seamless user experience across online and physical spaces. Are your ready to deliver that positive experience?

Talk to Rhapsody about how we help world-famous retail brands including Boden, Waitrose and Vodafone deliver more to their consumers, across the whole marketing spectrum. You can contact us here

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