The rise of e-commerce is changing how we shop. It’s a more convenient way for consumers to get what they need, but it’s taking a toll on retail sales. Although sales rose by 0.6 percent last month, that increase is lower than the 1.5 percent we saw back in February. In his assessment on the future of retail, David Kaplan writes that “[the] businesses who delay closing the loop around online-to-offline channels...will lose. The ones who provide a seamless bridge between customers’ online and offline experiences will win.” What’s a retailer to do? More importantly, what can you do?
As a marketer who sells a brand through local channels, you play a greater role in improving the retail industry than you think. The marketing tools that you provide to your partners should be those that give customers a more seamless experience. What can you offer to your partners that will help them bring together offline and online shopping? A local marketing automation platform. It allows your partners to not only customize co-branded marketing materials, but also enroll in brand-approved marketing programs. With these programs, you are doing the work for your partners after they have enrolled. The messages go out automatically as if they are coming from the partners, and you control the final timing and messaging.
Why is this important? Two words: customer loyalty.
It may seem like a common practice for businesses to send us emails and postcards for our birthdays, anniversaries, and abandoned shopping carts. But think about the number of places where you’ve shopped in the last month that have never sent you anything. It may seem sad at first, but the point is that the companies who send these communications are thanking you for your business. They can ask you when your birthday is for the sake of a database, but their recognition of your birthday with even a postcard can strengthen your relationship with them.
A local marketing automation platform will help your partners express gratitude for their customers. When you provide this tool to your partners, they can use it to send triggered communications that make customers feel important. When customers see that a retailer goes the extra mile to wish them a happy birthday, they’ll be more likely to return the favor with business -- brick-and-mortar business at that. Furthermore, remember that the retailers are doing this on behalf of your brand. The loyalty that these automated communications generate for the small business creates a halo effect for your brand. When your local partner gets a new customer, so do you!
E-commerce’s rise in popularity won’t spell the end of physical retail locations. It’s unlikely that the offline shopping experience will be eliminated forever. It simply needs to be joined with the online experience. By equipping your partners with a local marketing automation platform, you can help bridge that gap. More importantly, you can help them do it in a way that fosters customer loyalty and brings more people into their stores -- and to your brand.
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