Five Retail Marketing Strategies and Tactics for 2016

by Megan Ouellet, Director of Content Marketing. Reach out and say hi to Megan on LinkedIn.

It’s an exciting time to be a retailer! With eCommerce retailers opening stores, stores becoming more digital and the Internet of Things moving from concept to reality, the path to purchase has drastically changed. Customers have more options but fewer choices – they no longer have to decide where or how to shop – they simply shop at their convenience.

2015 has been the year of personalization as the technology allowing deep segmentation and personal recommendations based on both purchase history and behavior can automate many of these communications. In fact, 54% of all consumers would consider no longer shopping with a retailer that didn’t provide personalized and relevant information. But what should retail marketers expect in 2016?

Content Personalization and User Generated Content
2016 will be the year of content marketing as retailers will find new ways to keep customers engaged and enhance their shopping experiences. 81% of all shoppers do online research before visiting a store and shoppers are looking for information at every stage of the journey – before, during and even after the purchase. More importantly, 80% of shoppers would prefer to get their product information from articles than ads.

Shoppers are looking for content that will help them make their purchase decisions, such as ratings and reviews. And they are looking for information to help them make the most of their purchases – such as product care tips. Retailers have to be creative in order to keep customers engaged. For example, if a customer buys a scarf, the retailer should send an email with a link to a video or blog post offering 15 interesting ways to wear the scarf. This type of personal content chould be used in every communication.

Even better, retailers should make their customers the star by promoting user generated content, not only in the form of ratings and reviews but by using real customer photos in promotional pieces, by asking customers to provide feedback on products and using that in product descriptions and requesting customer information for use in product videos or tutorials.

Interactive Marketing
As retailers add more and more technology to their stores, bringing the phigital experience to life, they have even more ways to interact with customers and capture data. Magic Mirrors, clienteling, touchscreens, Occulus Rift and interactive displays in stores allow shoppers to interact with brands and products in fun new ways while enhancing the shopping experience by aiding in product discovery while reducing time and barriers to checkout.

Mobile enables a lot of these interactions. Beacons send push messages to customers while they’re in store, offering coupons or product information. Mobile shopping apps allow customers to check inventory or receive additional product details immediately. Social sites, like Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter, let customers interact with brands and other customers, sharing information, pictures and videos. This level of interaction leads to loyal customers and brand ambassadors.

Cross-Channel Marketing
Customers already expect a seamless shopping experience as they move from store to site to mobile device, but many retailers are still struggling to provide this. In 2016, the data silos will be removed once and for all as omnichannel data hubs, such as Listrak’s, make it easy for retailers to store and use the data from everyone channel in one central location.

In many cases, the shopper’s email address is the universal identifier as it is used online, in mobile shopping apps and in-store during the checkout process. It also makes it possible for retailers to identify customers across devices. For example, if a customer is logged into a retailer’s site on their laptop at work and adds items to her cart and then later, at home, she visits the site on her iPad and completes the purchase, the retailer now knows those two devices are the same account. To take it a step further, if the same customer opens the order confirmation email on her mobile device, all three devices can be tied to the same account. This makes it possible for retailers to serve up personalized content to that customer no matter where or how she shops.

Email Still Reigns
Email has been the top performing marketing channel for the past decade, returning $38 per $1 spent in 2015. And it will remain in the top spot for 2016 as long as retailers keep up with the trends.

As mentioned earlier, personalization is key. Even broadcast emails can and should be personalized based on past purchases and online behavior. Automation will play an even bigger role as triggered messages are used to nurture customers through the buying journey while extending their lifecycles. And the amount of customer data will lead to true 1:1 marketing through deep segmentation and targeting.

The Landscape of Stores will change
Department stores haven't changed much in the past 100 years. See for yourself. This was taken at the Joseph Horne Co. department store in Pittsburgh in early 1920:

Until now. Many retailers are now designing stores to fit into communities, using local materials, artists and craftsman to build stores that reflect the area they are in instead of creating cookie-cutter stores that are exactly the same in every location throughout the country.

And many stores include space for community activities, such as a yoga class, poetry slam, music studio or gym. Others simply design events to enhance the shopping experience, such as a whiskey tasting or an onsite expert who will teach customers how to iron a shirt or correctly fold clothes while packing a suitcase. Some retailers offer customers memberships to participate in the events while others are open to the public. These events drive traffic to the store and keep customers coming back.

Are you ready for the future? Mobile will become even more influential and social marketing will find its stride. Customers will shop and interact with retailers in fun and engaging new ways. User generated content will become something that both retailers and shoppers rely on. But the basics - great content and personalized email messages that are targeted to each customer - will remain at the center of your digital marketing strategy.

Join us at one of our events in NY or CA in early February to learn how you can accomplish all of this and more. This event is open to retail marketers and you can receive 50% off registration with discount code Listrak50.

Feb. 2, 2016
Convene - New York City

Feb. 11, 2016
Pelican Hill Resort - Newport Beach

Retail Reality: Thoughts from Listrak's Shopping Trip in NYC

by Kate Lowry, VP of Marketing. This is the second in our series regarding a recent shopping trip in New York City. Read the first one here.

On Listrak’s recent Manhattan Retail Reality Roadtrip, our group visited many stores located in Chelsea, Soho and along 5th Avenue. Even as an avid online shopper, I still love shopping in-store. It provides a totally different experience than online does and allows me to interact better with both the products and the brand. Many of the stores we visited provided an exceptional in-store experience; one of the things that resonated the most was how engaged and attentive the store associates were. The groups primary goal was to check out the latest technology, see how it was being used in brick and mortar locations and how it tied the customer back to the online experience, if at all.

Some brands, like Rebecca Minkoff, really offered an in-store experience that you wanted to savor, quite literally with the drink assortments they offered, but the welcome and engaging nature of the store associates was just as notable. The well-talked about magic mirrors in the store only added to the interaction with the brand and the store associate. The two worked seamlessly together. And as a loyal Rebecca Minkoff customer, I would make the trip to their Soho Flagship store just to test out the new mirror technology in the fitting rooms. They were well lit, working properly, integrated well with the sales associates and overall easy to use. It made the experience fun and unique as a customer. 


On a whim, our group decided to visit the L.L. Bean Pop-Up store on 5th Avenue and were pleasantly surprised by how welcoming the sales associates were and how warm and cozy the store was. They even had a hot chocolate bar upstairs with the most amazing peppermint cookies. And while the store experience was one of my favorite of the 20+ stores we visited, all of their iPads weren’t working and the computer hidden in the back corner was also not working. The technology divide between online and in-store was pretty apparent, but did it ruin my experience at the store? Not really.

Sprinkles Cupcakes, who served me the best salted caramel cupcake I’ve ever tasted, allowed me to order a cupcake via their “Cupcake ATM,” but didn’t ask for my email or phone. Personally, after how amazing that cupcake was, I would love to continue the experience with them, but they have no way to contact me. That was a disappointment. 

Other stores such as Samsung had a bar of phones set up where you could choose from designs and have it printed on a recyclable shopping bag. Pretty cool, right? But when I went to the phone to enter my info and pick my design, the girl behind the counter just told me to pick a design and she’ll make it – no need to use the phone. While, I appreciated the in-store interaction from the sales associate, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of having the phones to showcase their technology?

After visiting Kate Spade, a store that had no technology present in-store for the customer to utilize, was all about the in-store customer experience. I worked with the Store Manager to pick out a pair of earrings and after requesting an e-receipt, my engagement with Kate Spade has risen quickly as they sent me an email asking me about my Kate Spade New York Shopping Experience as well as multiple promotional emails. 
 And lastly, I thought Warby Parker was the most fun. Why? Well, because who doesn’t like trying on glasses? From a pure-play startup to a brick and mortar, Warby Parker has created an atmosphere in their Soho store that invites you to try on different styles and even has a photo booth so you can take home your memory of the store. 

I think one of the most poignant takeaways for me was that online and in-store shopping each have their own benefits, but creating an experience that is memorable is by far the best thing a brand can do. The stores that nailed that experience were the ones that ironically had a nice crossover of online and in-store technology so that the conversation could be continued after you left the store with or without a purchase in hand. When adding technology in-store, make sure it makes sense and make sure it connects the dots for the customer in a way that is unique and memorable, but also works.

Where Leading Fashion Retailers are Driving Traffic Black Friday

By Donna Fulmer, Market Research Manager

Some early reports have indicated that while online shopping is soaring today, traffic at malls is a little lighter than retailers may like. I can attest that my husband - somewhat begrudgingly - got up early on his day off to drive our daughter to her retail job by 5:45 a.m. so she didn't have to fight the traffic and waste time looking for parking - only to find that traffic was light and the parking lot was only a quarter full.

Looking at today's inbox of emails from leading fashion retailers, it seems the light foot traffic may have been anticipated. It will be interesting to see if the efforts seen in these emails help to turn the day around for brick and mortar stores:

Granted, I had to scroll to the bottom of this Forever 21 email, but this is a pretty generous in-store only promotion -

What came earlier this morning from Forever 21, however, was a much stronger push - 

And while this J.Crew email does not promote an in-store only event, it's obvious they want to make it's very easy for me to find my nearest store -

Gap, too, is trying to drive traffic in-store, however, it's unfortunately again at the bottom of a long, scrolling email and  less obvious than the Forever 21 promotion - 

(It's worth noting that of course all of the other emails I have received from fashion omnichannel retailers have clearly communicated that Black Friday deals apply both on-line and in-store.) 

So what about pureplay retailers? Even online only merchants must know that the traditional website is not the only place their customer may want to shop today. Kudos to for this effort to capture shoppers wherever or however they may want to take part in Black Friday deals today: 

How are you driving shoppers to your brick and mortar stores today?