Social media is all around us these days. Everyone from kids to grandparents are on at least one social media platform. So it is important to learn how to use this modern tool to boost your brand both online and in person. In fact, there are strategies for retailers focused around social media. Yes, there is such a thing as a social retail strategy. Today we will take you through what such a strategy is, and why it is important for you to have one in place.
So, what is social retail?
Social retail is an essential part of a modern omnichannel retail strategy. Social retail is using social media to communicate and engage with customers while also selling to them in-store and online. In a nutshell, the strategy succeeds by rewarding customers for sharing products they love. After all, many customers love to share their new purchases and favorite brands on social media. This is especially so when that product or brand aligns with their personality. The idea of social retail is to incentivize your customers to continue doing this – hopefully making it a habit.
For those who are familiar with word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing, social retail is just a modern, digital version. You want customers to be so happy sharing your products that their friends and followers begin to try them out as well.
It’s important to remember that it isn’t only about sharing your brand and products on traditional websites or social media channels. Some of the top performing brands in social retail feature their products on virtual platforms as well, in other words, metaverse retailing. A great example of this are some brands releasing their collections on Bitmoji. Even though they are not yet making money off of Bitmoji users wearing their brands, they are generating a lot of brand awareness.
You should keep in mind that a social retail strategy is not ideal for every type of retailer. Are you selling the type of items people would like to share? Are your customers the type of people to even want to share their purchases? These are some of the questions you should consider before investing in a social retail strategy.
Why you should do it
Whether or not your business has a large social media presence, it’s still common for customers to post about their experience online. If you provide a good experience, customers will advocate for your business and products online. It was found that 92% of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family more than advertising. So maximize this free promotion by having a social retail strategy that includes referrals.
Since social media is a place for people to connect and communicate online, it’s the best place to start or continue building a loyal community for your store. Once a community is established, your community members will be some of the most frequent buyers. They will even act as ambassadors for your store by promoting it to their friends and families. The beauty of the community is that users will inevitably end up building connections and bonds through shared experiences and values. This will boost the positive feelings associated with your brand – reinforcing your brand’s loyal community. Through a brand community paired with the right customer management tools, you’ll get to know your audience more and have better data and understanding on their expectations, wants, and needs.
How to do a social retail strategy
The first step is to decide which social media platforms you will use. It’s always better to use more than one, but take some time to consider which ones your customers are more likely to be active on. When setting up business profiles on each of them, make sure you are tagging your page with common keywords associated with your business. For example if you have a grocery store, you will want to use tags or hashtags such as: grocers, produce, food, etc. On top of that, you want to make sure your profile pictures are consistent across the board. These two steps will really help customers to find your profiles on social platforms.
The next step is to start creating content and posting! Make sure that your posts aren’t just random. Schedule them out and organize what type of posts you want and how often you want them uploaded. Create a good mix of promotional content, fun content for engagement, and content that speaks about the values of your brand.
Try to encourage customers to post or tag about your products! You can do this by showcasing their posts on the company account, having photo opportunities in-store for them to post about, hosting small giveaways or events for them to take part in, etc.
Just a reminder, not all of these examples work for all business types! Pick methods you think would work best for your own business. As long as the end goal is to encourage customers to share. Finally start adjusting your accounts and what you post based on feedback & data from your customers.
A social retail strategy is almost a given in 2022. If you haven’t started one yet, now you know why and how you should start. With 59% of the world on social media – you should be investing time and energy into boosting your brand on social and digital channels.
TAKU Retail has all of the tools needed to start selling on social media, and collect data on your customers. These essential tools will help you engage in the ultimate social retail strategy. Start today!
Accessibility is an important feature to have in any business. Around 15% of people around the world live with a disability of some sort. In the US alone, this statistic is 26% of the population – about 61 million adults with a disability. Given the numbers involved, it’s important for retailers to consider whether their operations and products appeal to disabled people’s needs.
Besides automatic doors and wheelchair ramps, there is still a lot that retailers can do when it comes to accommodating disabled people.
Why is accessibility important
As we’ve mentioned, a good portion of the world lives with some form of disability. And as a retailer you want to make it as easy as possible for all potential customers to shop with you. A survey conducted in the UK reported that 78% of disabled people found it difficult or impossible to access most shops and malls. Making stores more accessible to 78% of disabled people is an easy way to increase your customer base and improve sales.
Access for people with disabilities improves access for everyone.
At its core, accessibility in retail is ensuring as many people as possible can easily shop with you. When most people think of making a store more accessible, they often think about making it easier for people who use wheelchairs or canes to access the store. But accessibility can include more than that. It is also about making sure anyone can read the signs in your store, or that anyone can feel comfortable in your store.
The types of accessibility issues
There are a few types of potential accessibility issues your shoppers could have. The common barriers to accessibility are:
Visual: This is for people who have a hard time seeing things, or even those who cannot see at all.
Mobility: This is for people who have difficulty moving around, such as people in wheelchairs or people with crutches.
Auditory: This is for people who have a hard time hearing or cannot hear at all.
Learning and/or cognitive: This is for people who may have learning disabilities such as dyslexia.
It is important to consider whether your store is inaccessible to people who fall under one or more of these categories. Are you doing enough to provide a satisfying shopping experience to these people?
The issues that arise from inaccessible retail
Besides just the financial losses a store can get from inaccessibility there is more to consider. At the end of the day, people with disabilities are still people. We must be empathetic to their concerns and needs.
When stores are inaccessible, people with disabilities are further made to feel like they are not a valued member of society. Just imagine if every time you had to go shopping you had to deal with an obstacle course at the same time. It would make you think that the business does not want you there or is making it as hard as possible for you to be there. Unfortunately, this is the reality many disabled people have to live with.
Some other consequences that can arise from your store being inaccessible are:
Stress & anxiety
Problems getting to certain products or services
This surely makes you ask, how can I make my business more accessible?
How can you make your business accessible
Hopefully you now have a better understanding of what accessibility is. Now we can move on to the most important part – how to actually make your business accessible to more people!
Evaluate your store
The first step is to take some time to assess your store. Are there places where people may have trouble with accessibility? Perhaps a certain aisle is too tight for people to move through easily if they are using a mobility aid, such as a wheelchair. Or maybe some of your signs are hard to read due to small lettering. Even things such as lighting can affect accessibility. Make a list of all of the potential issues within your store so you have an action plan to start.
Understand your region’s accessibility regulations
Each country, state or province has its own rules and regulations when it comes to accessibility. Make sure you do some research into what your region specifies. This will also help you prioritize tasks within your action plan.
Examples of accessibility features
Here are some common solutions to accessibility issues. Keep in mind, these are just a few examples.
Ramps and automatic doors
Large lettering on signage (72pt font is a standard size for more accessible readability)
Wide doors to allow people in wheelchairs or walkers to pass through
Braille on some signs
Comfortable lighting (not too bright but not too dark either)
Using patterns instead of only colors for differentiation for those with poor color vision
Flexibility at the point-of-sale (portable card processing machines or with long cables, ample room at self-checkout stations, etc.)
If you have TVs or screens, make sure closed-captioning is turned on
Include people with disabilities in your marketing
Be open to suggestions from people with disabilities
Now that you know your region’s regulations, and you know what in your store needs work, you can begin taking action.
Once you have core accessibility issues resolved, you can take extra steps to make your customers with accessibility feel more included. Examples of this include:
Offering products which will appeal to people with various physical needs
Quiet spaces to give consumers a break from all of the hustle and bustle in your store. This is very effective for customers who experience sensory overload.
Have magnifying glasses that allow visually impaired people to read smaller texts and labels
Review websites and online stores for sufficient meta information for user navigation (versus just product information) as those who are visually impaired often use audio tools to read aloud online content
QR codes on product labels which will allow customers to inspect product information from their smartphones which have built-in accessibility modes
Hiring employees who know sign language
These extra steps will really help customers with disabilities feel included and accommodated.
Train your staff
While having accessibility features is a great thing, it is important that your staff, the people who represent your business, are also trained to serve customers with disabilities. Making sure that all of your staff are trained in the basics of accessibility etiquette will result in every customer getting the best customer service. You can find some services and products that help with disability awareness/etiquette training here.
Online accessibility matters too
As mentioned above, accessibility doesn’t just stop at your physical store, but extends to your online sales channels as well. A survey in the UK showed that businesses lose a combined £17 billion due to a lack of online accessibility. This highlights the economic importance of making your digital sales channels accessible, beyond it being the right thing to do.
Make sure it is easy to navigate your website and that you include alt-texts on all images and navigation functions (e.g. buttons). Since people with visual impairments use applications to read aloud website content, alt-texts on images help describe and differentiate them to users.
Ensure readability on your website. Use legible fonts, clear color contrast and appropriate font sizes. This extends to captions on any video that may be on your website. Also make sure that you are using headings to organize text content on your site. Having a structure to your text content allows it to be more understandable to users with cognitive disabilities. For more info on web accessibility check out this Hubspot article.
Accessible businesses thrive
The best type of businesses are able to serve as many customers as possible. And offering access to those with disabilities, improves access for everyone. This makes your business more successful and a stronger member of your community. Please take some time as soon as you can to evaluate where you can improve accessibility in your business.
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A lot has changed over the last two years. When the pandemic started in 2020, retail was heavily affected. Now that we are in a post-pandemic world, retail has once again changed. Some trends from the pandemic are sticking around, and some are not. In today’s blog we are going to go over several post-pandemic retail trends.
Post-pandemic inflation affects spending
We’ve touched on inflation affecting consumer spending. The early months of the pandemic saw an increase in spending by consumers. However as interest rates and inflation continue to increase, consumers are making mindful decisions to cut back on spending. Although the lipstick effect continues to explain why small luxury items are continuing to sell, discretionary spending is decreasing overall. Consumers are spending less and less on things such as clothing and meal kits.
Brand loyalty is shifting post-pandemic
Younger consumers are leaving brands they were once loyal to. 39% of consumers (mostly Gen Z and Millennials) have left behind trusted brands to try new ones. At the same time, older shoppers are prioritizing convenience and supporting more local businesses. The bar is higher than ever to earn brand loyalty today but it’s still important to retailers everywhere.
One of the most powerful tools for earning brand loyalty is a loyalty program. These programs actually make 60% of global consumers into brand loyalists. But instead of simply discounts, consumers are increasingly saying that loyalty is about ‘exceptional experiences’ or a ‘sense of trust.’
Store-ception (stores within stores)
Another trend which is gaining more traction are stores within stores. Now that people are physically shopping in stores after the pandemic, this trend is big! A common example of this is the beauty counter within a pharmacy. Usually these spaces have lighting catered to beauty products and special signage.
Since stores have reopened, this trend is skyrocketing. Brands such as Target now have small Apple stores within their stores at multiple locations. This gives retailers the boost of “subletting” floor space to an aspirational brand with it’s own established customer base. This attracts more foot traffic and gives shoppers a better in-store experience.
Home investments are slowing down post-pandemic
Traditionally during a recession, people are more likely to “nest” and spend more time at home to save money. This recession will be different though as shoppers everywhere are tired of isolating at home after several years of lockdowns. The traditional boom in home products happened early on during the pandemic. As as result, shoppers have already invested in their homes and the demand for products and brands related to nesting has been on the decline as consumers return to stores, restaurants and travel.
As shoppers have less disposable income and have already spent money on home improvements – the nesting boom is coming to a halt. Although there are less people willing to spend on home improvement now, the people who are able to spend are going to spend more.
A focus on healthy living
Unsurprisingly, there is increased interest in personal wellness post-pandemic. During the pandemic, products related to outdoor fitness and healthy living were in high demand. Luckily for retailers in health and wellness, this trend is still strong amongst shoppers as the pandemic has reminded everybody about the benefits of healthy living.
The focus on healthy living extends to food and drinks. While normally alcohol consumption increases during a recession, over-indulgence during the pandemic has lead to an overall decrease in alcohol consumption, particularly amongst high-income or young consumers.
The changing role of e-commerce
E-commerce was all the rage during the pandemic. With stores closed everywhere, shoppers had no choice but to shop online. But e-commerce is more than just another sales channel. These days, it is also a key marketing tool.
As shoppers have returned to stores, retailers have downplayed e-commerce sales as they tend to have lower margins. According to Google, 46% of consumers will check online for product availability before purchasing anything in-store. While in-store, these customers are also more likely to make impulse purchases which are often higher in margin.
Throughout 2022 we’ve been emphasizing that customers want convenience. The flexibility that omnichannel delivers is a powerful way to offer convenience to consumers. Buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS) is being used more and more every day. In post-pandemic retail, stores with true omnichannel operations are the most successful as retailers today need to sell wherever shoppers want to buy. Omnichannel strategies lead to 80% higher rates of store visits. People want to be able to start their purchasing journey online and finish it in-person (or vice versa).
Better customer relations via technology
Omnichannel retail platforms allow store owners to save data about their customers. This data can then be used for personalized marketing materials which is more effective at driving sales.
The rise of e-commerce during the pandemic has led many people to believe that that physical retail stores will soon be a thing of the past. After all, e-commerce feels more convenient as you can shop from the comfort of home. Even Google has seen an increase in the number of people wondering whether brick and mortar stores are dying.
We’re glad to report that, like many future predictions, the reality is a lot less scary. As post-pandemic studies and recent data has shown, physical retail is still thriving and here to stay.
E-commerce is not the only future
While e-commerce grew in popularity during the pandemic, post-pandemic statistics show that people are returning to their old ways. E-commerce sales in 2022 have slowed down. Some of this is likely pent up demand for shoppers who missed shopping in person during the pandemic. But according to research, 59% of shoppers do not trust internet-only brands. At the same time, e-commerce only companies continue to struggle to turn a profit. Many companies who bet on an e-commerce only future are now paying the price.
Brick and mortar retail stores are continuing to grow
Even after all of the COVID-19 lockdowns, brick & mortar retail stores are thriving. In fact, for every brick and mortar business that shut down, two more businesses opened up. On top of that, sales in physical retail have actually gone up post-pandemic. In-store shopping has seen a 13.7% boost compared to pre-pandemic levels. This growth doesn’t just apply to big names like Walmart, but to small independently owned businesses as well! In fact, over 60% of small businesses are expected to grow their revenue over the next year. This is a trend that can be seen from pre-pandemic statistics as well. Reports show that between 2016 – 2021, the revenue of smaller retailers grew at an average of 51.33%.
And certain consumers actually prefer in-store shopping. The majority of Boomers and Gen X customers say that they shop in-store “all the time”. In fact, younger people such as Gen Z (along with Gen X) are two generations that actually shop more in-person than online. For them, their entire lives are already digital and physical retail appeals to them as experiential shopping
The shopping experience is too important
Another key reason why brick & mortar stores still appeal to shoppers is because it is still by far a better shopping experience. At the beginning we mentioned how e-commerce provides a certain level of convenience that physical retail can’t. Yet when it comes to immediate consumption, this is something that only physical shopping can offer. There is a level of satisfaction one can feel shopping in-store and taking something home right away. This is why the term retail therapy exists.
But beyond immediate satisfaction, shopping at brick and mortar stores allows customers to get an engaged shopping experience that they simply can’t find online. Being able to physically hold a product and sometimes try it out before purchase is a big factor in deciding to buy something. 59% of consumers say that the ability to try, touch and feel a product is key for in-store shopping over online.
And when shopping in-store, one of the top priorities for shoppers is convenience, especially at checkout. After all, 97% of consumers have backed out of a purchase due to inconvenience. So if you are in or planning to enter the physical retail industry, be sure to offer easy checkout options. Things like self-checkout enhance the shopping experience for customers greatly.
The future is omnichannel
Throughout this post, it may have felt like we are saying that e-commerce is worse than physical retail. However, the future of the retail today is really a combination of physical and digital shopping. As we mentioned before, consumers want convenience. Omnichannel offers the most convenience to consumers as it allows them to shop from anywhere, 24/7. There’s a reason why 58.6% of retailers are heavily investing in omnichannel fulfillment and 70% of small businesses have adopted digital tools over the past year.
The benefits of omnichannel aren’t just for customers either. Retailers are able to have more control over their business and sell more when they offer omnichannel shopping. After all, retailers who don’t sell on multiple channels end up missing out on ~30% of sales.
Being able to serve your customers in a variety of channels will soon be the standard in retail. For e-commerce, store pickup or fulfillment of online orders from local stores support main streets, is better for the environment and get products to customers faster as delivery costs increase. In order to keep up with the future, your retail business needs to be an omnichannel one.
Now, more than ever, is the best time to invest in omnichannel! Make sure your business is future-proof by implementing software that can support your business over time. Check out TAKU Retail and ensure your business is resilient and able to serve customers the way they expect to shop today.
Invented in 1994, the QR code was originally made so that Toyota could track car parts in their manufacturing process. 28 years later, QR codes have become so much more. In particular, the COVID pandemic helped popularize the use of QR codes in businesses everywhere. Whether you’ve seen it being used by shoppers adding social media accounts or to view a digital menu, it’s an increasingly common tool that retailers can use to speed up service and improve customer experience. Here are 4 different ways QR codes can help retailers.
1. Attract more shoppers to your website
QR codes can look like a complicated barcode but they are actually an image of information. For example, you can store everything from phone numbers and documents to website addresses. But sharing websites and social media accounts is definitely the most common use for QR codes. By adding a QR code to any marketing materials or signage, you are giving shoppers the fastest way for them to access your website or social media accounts. Instead of typing addresses or searching for accounts, shoppers can simply scan the QR code with the camera on their phones and access your information in 1-click.
By making it easier for shoppers to get access to your online storefront and social feeds, you will attract more shoppers to your business. After all, being found online or having an online storefront will not only increase your online sales, it helps drive foot traffic back to your physical store as shoppers have an easy way to stay up-to-date on new product launches, special offers, etc.
2. Sell from your shopfront window
Another way QR codes help retailers sell is to make it easier for stores to sell things from their physical shopfront window. For example, adding QR codes next to products that are displayed in your shopfront window that link to each specific product in your online catalog. This gives shoppers an easy way to scan a product to find out more or even buy online, even when your store is closed. Doing this makes your storefront window more engaging and informative – both of which are important for good customer experience.
3. Get more social media followers
Many retailers today use QR codes to make it easier for shoppers to follow their social media accounts. Since QR codes are scanned as website links, shoppers can easily open your social media accounts with 1 click. Making it easier for people to find your accounts will increase the likelihood that they will follow you. Place these QR codes anywhere customers and business partners can see them (email signatures, profile pictures, in-store signs, counter stickers, etc.).
4. Give fast access to free WiFi
One of the best uses of QR codes is to give shoppers 1-click access to guest WiFi in the store. You can create a QR code that store visitors can scan to be automatically connected to your guest WiFi. This is a special type of QR code that automatically enters the network name and password into an iPhone or Android mobile phone. Shoppers love it as it means no more entering network names or long passwords. It is also better for your network security as you don’t need to disclosing the actual password.
If you want to encourage shoppers to browse, offering free guest WiFi is a great way to get shoppers to stay for a longer time in your store. It doesn’t cost you anything and it’s been shown that shoppers that stay longer in a store buy more things and spend more money.
Scroll down to learn how to create your own WiFi QR code.
How to create QR codes
QR codes are very simple to create. All you need is online QR code generator to make them. When using these platforms, creating your QR code is as simple as pasting the website address you would like customers to open. Then press the generate button, and congratulations you will have just made your first QR code!
A. Standard QR codes
For standard QR codes, we have two recommendations: QR Code Monkey and QR Code Generator. QR Code Monkey is a great free option. QR Code Generator offers a few more features and even has a premium membership. Both of these tools let you add colors and even a logo to your QR code.
B. WiFi QR codes
The main difference when creating QR codes for WiFi sharing is that the code generator needs to support WiFi information. A good tool for this is QiFi.org which was built specifically for this.
All you need to do is enter the SSID (network name) and password for your guest WiFi network. You may also need to enter the Encryption type, so check your Wi-Fi settings if you don’t already know this. Once all of the information is entered, click Generate to produce the code.
Now you know some ways QR codes can help retailers. Time to start implementing this popular technology to your business. You can follow one of the tactics we mentioned, or get creative and try your own tactic. If you end up coming up with your own QR tactic, please feel free to share it below in the comments!
In the current world of retail, having an online catalog is essential. Customers are spending so much of their time on the internet, being able to reach them online is now crucial. Yet many merchants still rely on physical print catalogs. While this is still a great strategy, there’s no reason not to add a digital catalog on top of that.
Times are different now, physical marketing materials should be an add-on, not your main strategy. After all, online ones are much easier for consumers to access since most people always have their phones on them, and they can provide a lot more information. Not to mention, they are much easier and cheaper to keep up-to-date.
5 reasons you should have an online catalog
We understand that many brick & mortar stores may not have the resources or technical skills to set up an e-commerce store. However, it’s very important for all physical stores to at least start an online catalog for shoppers.
Here are 5 main reasons why you should:
1 – Shoppers buy more when they know what products you carry
Google’s research indicates that shoppers avoid stores when they do not know what’s available inside the store. After all, the majority of shoppers do research online today before heading out and stock availability helps shoppers decide which store to go to. Making it easy for shoppers to see what you have available on your shelves today drives more foot traffic to your physical store, which then increases your sales since impulse buys and upselling increase basket size.
2 – New customers can see what you offer
You’ll be able to attract more new customers if your products are showcased online. People who are learning about your business for the first time will be able to better understand what you offer, even before they step foot in your store. If you use a modern system such as TAKU, your POS will automatically update your product showcase on Google so that nearby shoppers see real-time stock levels that adjust in real-time even as you sell.
Having stock levels update automatically is a key difference with a digital product showcase vs. traditional print catalogs as shoppers today expect stock information to be accurate whether they buy in-store or online.
3 – Digital catalogs are easier to share
Digital catalogs are great since they are so easy to share. In the age of social media people are always sharing things with others. Where a physical catalog requires someone to actually hand their friend the catalog (which may be out-of-date), a digital one can be shared around the world in a few clicks. It’s easy to see why this is a good thing, the more people that see your catalog – the more potential sales you could get. Similarly, shoppers are more likely to consider retailers recommended by their friends or contacts.
4 – Digital catalogs offer 24/7 customer assistance
Having a digital catalog reduces the amount of time spent answering general questions. If you have a product showcase, your shoppers will have 24/7 access to photos and product descriptions. This eliminates the need to have employees repeatedly answering the same questions. This also relieves some of the burden on your sales team as they will spend less time answering explaining product details and more time selling. This will in turn improve your overall customer service.
It’s best to think of an online catalog as a marketing investment. There is a cost to set it up in the beginning, but once it’s up and running, it provides free sales assistance and will quickly pay itself off.
5 – It will help you understand your customers better
Since an online catalog will be on your digital channels, you will be able to collect data that will be useful for digital marketing. The collected data will help you gain better insights into your customers and even answer a few questions along the way. Analyzing data collected from your digital catalog could help you answer questions such as:
Which of my products have the most views online?
Are people aware of my business? Are they interested?
How many people are making purchases based off of my catalog?
Do I need to change the products I am carrying?
How can I get more people to sign up for my email list?
Do my customers research products before purchasing?
Overall, a digital catalog helps to enhance your customer service. It allows shoppers to conveniently check what is available, find out information regarding products, and even share with other potential customers.
With an online catalog you will be able to reach more shoppers with less effort. It will also allow you to save money over time compared to physical catalogs. It is an investment which will quickly pay for itself. As a retailer you should consider adding or improving the digital catalog for your store. Happy retailing!
Want to start displaying your products online? TAKU’s Google SWIS integration allows your to showcase your inventory on Google in real time! To learn more click on the banner below.