Retail success is defined by engagement. The reach of retailers and brands now extends to any point at which a shopper encounters these brands. Engagement by a consumer may be through a physical encounter, one involving mobile or online channels, via social networks, or in a transit environment.
As we enter this new world, you stand to profit by offering your customers solutions for all these targeted opportunities to connect brands to consumers.
But before you can do that, you must understand the retailing environment of 2013. It is an environment notably different from earlier iterations, says Carol Spieckerman, president of newmarketbuilders, a 13-year-old retail strategy firm. “Engagement by retailers has changed, in that it has shifted a lot of other dynamics,” Spieckerman says. “It’s driving a lot of other changes.”
First, the new “shopper marketing” is “user marketing,” she says. Retailers have grown comfortable with the idea not every path taken by consumers is a path to purchase. They accept consumers may not buy, viewing engagement with the retailers’ own brands, or brands they carry, as a positive development. That’s because engagement keeps consumers engaged with brands, and it can also be measured by retailers, regardless of whether a purchase is made.
“That data by engagement is very valuable,” she says. “Retailers are developing capabilities to track any time an individual might be playing a free game, engaging through social media and commenting on something, reading a review, or using an application for entertainment purposes. These are not path-to-purchase activities. They are just engagement activities. But that‘s okay with retailers. They are encouraging it, because they have the capability of tracking engagement activities, and marrying that with point-of-sale data and path-to-purchase data. They are developing the capability to combine all that to get a much better read not just on what consumers have purchased in the past or what they‘re purchasing now, but what they intend to purchase in the future.”
Along with this user focus comes content, which is vitally important to the imaging community. Content includes print, images, videos, anywhere content resides. The largest focus for any retailer is developing compelling multi-touchpoint content marketing programs, Spieckerman says.
The old standard about right-sizing content for the right screens or print has given way to finding the right message for the right medium. The diversity, granularity and targeting of content are areas of focus for today’s retailers.
“They represent very big opportunities for the imaging community to adopt this language, and position it as being part of retailers’ overarching content marketing strategies,” Spieckerman observes. “And along with that to talk about the role they do play and don’t play in being a thought leader.”
Leverage your Specialty
The good news for PSPs, she adds, is that retailers have moved away from the era in which they were seeking one-stop shops, or single providers that could handle a number of different capabilities. Now they are returning to the search for specialization. They are looking at not growing their own solutions, but partnering with specialists, and in some cases acquiring specialization.
As a result, print service providers “should think about how to leverage what they are already really good at, and how that fits into a total content marketing strategy for a retail or brand marketer,” Spieckerman says.
Put another way, some PSPs may be eyeing new equipment purchases, or initiating efforts to get into dynamic signage, when they should instead be looking at how their messaging specialization fits into the big picture for retailers. “The big picture is often the missing part,” she observes. “When you bring value is when you demonstrate a grasp of their total content marketing strategy.”