5 Secrets to Retail Reopening

By Becki Francis: Associate Director of Client Strategy, Retail Practice Lead

Retail recovery is at a turning point. After a year of pandemic-induced lockdowns and social distancing restrictions that put in-store shopping on pause, global vaccination rollouts are giving rise to renewed hope for retailers. But while reductions in pandemic restrictions and promises of pent-up consumer demand are reasons for optimism, some things have irreversibly changed, and reopening does not mean turning the clock back to 2019.

Over the past 14 months, consumers have become accustomed to the convenience of shopping online, and it’s unlikely we’ll ever see that behavior fully revert to pre-pandemic patterns. In a locked-down world where even the basics, at times, are purchased online, shoppers have become accustomed to informative, compelling customer experiences at every touchpoint.  

Now, as physical retail prepares to welcome back shoppers, marketers must recognize that the digital world will continue to play a key role in the future of shopping. Consumer expectations will not regress. Customers will continue to lean on digital touchpoints to serve their needs. Whether it’s researching products online before a store visit, buying online for curbside pick-up, or paying for an item with contactless mobile payments, most shopping experiences now involve both physical and digital experiences, and retailers need to facilitate a seamless shift between the two. 

Here are the five secrets marketers need to know to maximize their reopening strategies and deliver meaningful, personalized email and mobile campaigns that meet new customer expectations. 

Click-and-Collect is here to stay

After a year like 2020, delivery and shipping can be a headache for consumers. In fact, according to eMarketer, 44% of shoppers abandon a purchase because of the cost of delivery. Luckily, store re-openings provide a solution. Marketers can now unify channels by utilizing personalized digital experiences to drive in-store collections.

By connecting to existing data sources, like APIs, CSV data, or ESP merge tags, marketers can populate a store locator directing the customer’s closest or preferred retail location. To complement the store locator, marketers can pull in ancillary information, including store opening hours, click and collect eligibility, and the services available in-store on a store-by-store basis, in real-time. 

Bolster Appointment Booking Opportunities

Controlling crowd sizes will be key in reopening strategies, and many retailers rely on appointments to manage their capacity. Marketers can tap into existing data sources like APIs to showcase available appointment slots and encourage appointment sign-ups across email and mobile campaigns. Real-time appointment availability creates a meaningful, trusted experience for shoppers as it expedites curbside pick up, reduces customer wait times, and minimizes strain on logistics. 

Drive Efficiencies with Live Traffic for Curbside Pick-up 

Logistic management across retail store locations will need to be simplified to control customer traffic and arrival times to meet overall demand. Now, marketers can support curbside pick-up logistics by connecting curbside appointments to traffic conditions. Based on a customer’s geolocation at the moment of engagement, email and mobile campaigns can connect to existing data sources and showcase time to arrival with real-time traffic conditions.

Maximize Customer Visits with Local Store Inventories

Continued social distancing guidelines will make many consumers wary of store visits, and an unsuccessful trip will result in further disengagement. Businesses need to provide inventory transparency to deliver an enhanced and valuable customer experience while still driving sales. Through unifying data sources that house inventory data like Salesforce Marketing Cloud, or Oracle Commerce, marketers can connect through API integrations to display real-time product availability at local stores and dynamically flag an items’ availability. If a browsed or carted item is available for click and collect or curbside pick up at the customer’s local store, highlight that when re-targeting the product in trigger or marketing emails.

Incredible Marketer illustrates this experience by first geolocating the customer to the closest retail location then populating live product inventory that pulls from a specific store page. 

Utilize Shopping Behaviors and Locate Items In-Store

To avoid crowds and gatherings, consumers want to make their store visits quick and efficient. Retailers now need to facilitate a seamless in-store experience by making it easy to find necessary items. Marketers can utilize APIs and CSV data sources to showcase the in-store location of key SKUs of products browsed or abandoned to make the shopping experience simpler and drive cross-channel conversion. 

While we’re still learning about the pandemic’s full ramifications on the retail industry, the need for a robust eCommerce platform isn’t going anywhere. Customers now expect a seamless, hybrid approach to shopping where their experiences with brands are personalized online and offline. Retailers that invest in meaningful, 1:1 marketing campaigns across email and mobile will have a leg up on meeting customer expectations and building long-term audiences.

About the Author: 
Prior to joining Movable Ink, Becki worked client-side in a variety of marketing and CRM roles within apparel and cosmetics retailers. She joins from Revolution Beauty, where she managed the brand’s digital marketing activity and global retention strategy. Prior to that, Becki led the CRM team at House of Fraser, focussing on the rollout of a series of highly automated lifecycle programs.