GLOBAL: In-store marketing is commonly viewed as an activity that drives short-term sales, but used properly it can also build brand image and deliver a win-win for both shoppers and retailers, an industry figure maintains.

In a WARC Best Practice paper, How to use technology effectively in your in-store marketing strategy, strategic consultant Phil Gault outlines the three key drivers that will define the physical retail landscape in future – including simplification, differentiation and digitisation – and argues that the most effective in-store technologies will lean into one or more of these.

“Technology provides opportunity to enhance the shopping experience throughout the store, from front window to check-out,” he says. “Getting it right will generate positive returns over time.”

That means taking a strategic rather than a tactical approach and devoting time to plan, validate and sell in effective tech solutions, he advises.

“Any technology-driven solution requires innovation; and the ability to innovate is an increasingly key component of how people perceive brands. Relevant innovation will enhance brand image; irrelevant innovation may detract.”

Delivering relevant and helpful innovation requires an understanding of how shoppers behave within a category and within shopping missions. Segmenting and ranking missions and identifying unmet needs by channel or retailer will indicate where opportunities lie.

“A common failing is to start with the technology and then try to find ways to make it fit your marketing objectives,” Gault observes. “A much better approach is to map the key drivers for your primary shopper and retailer audiences, and then identify which technologies (if any) can help and how.”

The technologies he considers fall into three main groups: locational, using place as a trigger for communication; experiential, using things like AR and VR to introduce an unexpected and participatory dimension to the shopping trip; and conversational, which leverages the store as a touchpoint to build relationship and nudge prospects towards a future purchase.

In all cases, the intelligent use of high-quality data is essential to reach shoppers not only at in-store touchpoints but also at online ones as they increasingly expect to move fluidly between the two.

Finding the mix of technologies that will work hardest for a brand, its shoppers and retail partners will inevitably require a high degree of experimentation, says Gault, but “don’t test anything unless you’re confident it can be scaled and sustained over a reasonable period of time”.

Sourced from WARC