the-power-of-offline-marketing-in-retail

The Power of Offline Marketing in Retail

GDPR: The Renaissance of SMB Receipt Marketing

Today, because more than half of retail sales are influenced by digital – and GDPR influences data collection – a new trend is emerging: Retailers are turning to offline marketing.

GDPR (or the General Data Protection Regulation) has had implications for foreign small businesses and retailers, and now similar regulations are coming to the United States.

While large retailers may have the funds to dedicate to safeguarding their big data, SMBs tend to have smaller budgets and fewer staff to manage such procedures. How do these stores continue to successfully communicate with customers – and stay protected against regulation?

Receipt Marketing: A Secret Weapon to Boost Customer Engagement

Independent retailers may create email marketing campaigns or implement a basic loyalty program, but there’s another thing they could be doing: receipt marketing.

Apart from customer service at physical stores, what’s the one thing shoppers always take away with them? A receipt, which is an intuitive and significantly underutilized marketing channel!

Customer retention, loyalty and engagement are all built upon developing relationships, being memorable, standing out and creating a connection. What if a cute or funny message on a receipt could do that? What if coupons, discounts, QR codes and thoughtful messages on receipts could build rapport with your audience?

It’s Cheap, Easy, Safe and Humanizing

Because digital marketing doesn’t always produce results for brands with a strict budget, offline marketing that reaches all customers could be a more rational place to invest your customer engagement dollars.

Just think of the possibilities! Your messaging can be timely and feature endearing calls-to-action that brighten your customer’s day. And the best part? This type of offline marketing has no privacy infringements – just enticing offers and a personal touch that makes SMBs feel genuine.

Customer Incentives for Return Business

Receipts can be a great place to highlight special offers to boost future store, restaurant and kiosk traffic.

Offline Meets Mobile: QR Codes

QR codes embedded on receipts, cards and in-store posters mean offline marketing can sync up with mobile offers.

Persuasive Discount Offers and Time-Sensitive Offline Messaging

Receipt marketing is a great way to reach a lot of eyeballs at an extremely low cost. Discounts with time-sensitive offers can create some of the best results and are a part of the most persuasive loyalty campaigns.

millenials-eating-habits

Millennials’ Eating Habits: How They’re Changing the Food Industry

If there’s one generation that makes headlines, it’s millennials. According to the 2015 U.S. Census, there are 75.4 million millennials living in the country, officially making them the largest generation in the States. If you operate a restaurant, it’s worth paying attention to what millennials do and want – especially when you consider that they spend more dining out than they save for retirement. Here are the top four things millennials are seeking when it comes to dining out – and how these changes are affecting the food industry.

They Want Convenience

The first meal kit service started in 2007 – and now, 12 years later, it’s a booming industry estimated to hit $10 billion in revenue by 2020. Who’s to thank for that? Millennials, of course – they’re considerably more likely to subscribe to these services than non-millennials.

That’s just one example of the importance convenience has to millennials. Other popular (and booming) examples are grocery delivery services, food trucks, heat-and-eat options available at grocery stores, and online ordering (millennials are the most likely to get home delivery from restaurants). In fact, according to the 2017 Food and Health Survey by the International Food Information Council, 55% of millennials say convenience is a top driver when buying food.

They Want Transparency (And Responsibility)

Don’t be mistaken: just because millennials value convenience doesn’t mean they don’t also take healthiness and sustainability seriously. The trend is just the opposite, actually.

First and foremost, millennials are redefining what it means for a food to be considered “healthy” – instead of low-fat being a top priority, they now put natural, organic, locally sourced, and sustainable foods at the top of their list. Did you know that millennials eat 52% more vegetables than baby boomers and 52% of organic consumers are millennials?

This generation also wants to know where their food is made – a whopping 80% of them want to know more about where their food is grown – and they value how it’s made (you may have noticed the terms “locally sourced” and “farm-to-table” popping up on menus in recent years).

They Want Trendiness

Gone are the days of steak and potatoes – instead, unique, customizable items are making a splash with millennials. “Build-your-own” quick service restaurants (like Chipotle) are growing steadily, and for a good reason: 72% of consumers expect customization! Some examples of recent unique trends are food bowls, food mashups/hybrids (hello, cronuts), and avocado toast.

So, are unique meals actually popular with millennials, or do they just make headlines? The former is true: 40% of millennials report they like to order different things every time they eat in the same restaurant, and they don’t shy away from vegan and cultural cuisines. They’re also described as open-minded and curious. Besides adopting a creative menu, it’s a good idea to also create a unique, modern vibe in your restaurant – from your light fixtures to your point of sale.

Avocado toast, a trendy meal popular among millennials. Source: pexels.com

They Want an Experience

If you have a social media account, you know that photos from users experiencing a satisfying meal are popular. In fact, 75% of millennials report they value the experience of eating food more than the nourishment. And social media is a huge part of the dining experience: 41% of millennials log in to Facebook every day, 29% use Instagram regularly, and 25% use Snapchat on a daily basis. To top it off, 20% of millennials say that they receive food news from peers on Facebook.

To help make your restaurant “Instagram-worthy,” consider adopting a modern and aesthetically pleasing menu design, ambiance, and décor – and don’t forget to create social media accounts for your restaurant if you haven’t already!

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5 Ways to Incorporate the Internet of Things into Your Store

The Internet of Things (IoT) is no longer just a buzzword – it’s a living, breathing technology that’s making a splash in retail stores around the world. By 2020, it’s estimated that there will be over 30 billion IoT devices!

IoT offers great benefits to the retail industry. In fact, 77% of retailers believe it improves the customer experience, 89% report that it provides increased insights into customer preferences, and 77% say that it helps them work with partners to deliver quality products and services.

How will IoT devices impact stores’ bottom lines? By reducing inventory error, optimizing supply chain management, and decreasing labor costs, it’s estimated that the potential economic impact of IoT in retail environments will range from $410 billion to $1.2 trillion per year by 2025!

So, how can you take advantage of IoT? Below are five ways to incorporate this new wave into your store.

  1. Personalized Discounts

Did you know that nearly half of consumers are willing to share their personal data in exchange for exclusive benefits? One of the biggest benefits shoppers are looking to receive is personalized promotions. By installing connected sensors around your store, you can send loyalty discounts to customers when they stand near certain products.

You can also use IoT to track what items a customer has looked at online, and then give them a personalized discount on that specific item when they visit your physical store. Another great way to use customer data to promote sales is through Star Micronics PromoPRNT, a value-add program that works with your existing receipt printer to deliver promotions directly on printed receipts.

2. Smart Shelves

Soon retail shelves as we know it will be completely different, thanks to smart shelves. This next-generation shelving includes electronic labels, personalized advertisements, RFID technology, and IoT sensors. One popular use case for smart shelves is supermarkets – grocery retailers are expected to increasingly use smart shelves to quickly update product prices, as well as display promotions, nutritional data, coupons, videos, and more.

Smart shelves can also interact with apps on a customer’s phone and do things like show shoppers where to find all the items on their grocery list, and enable each item to be scanned by a robotic checkout.

Smart Shelving in a Kroger Store. (Source: Microsoft News)

3. Beacons

Beacons – or small wireless sensors that can be attached virtually anywhere – work with customers’ smartphones to collect locational and contextual data (if they have downloaded your app). These sensors can be used to track shoppers when they’re in your store and send them personalized content, coupons, and more. In the age of online shopping, this level of exclusive, tailored content is just what stores need to keep drawing customers into their brick and mortar establishment.

The truth of beacon success is in the numbers: approximately 75% of shoppers provided with beacon content say it increased their chances of making a purchase, and over 60% said they’re willing to spend more money on holiday shopping at brick-and-mortar stores if they’re sent special offers.

4. Digital Signage

Any way you cut it, digital signage is huge in both helping boost a store’s attractiveness, as well as pushing data-driven content to strategically targeted customers. Digital signage can truly unify your IoT efforts by collecting customer data from beacons, sensors, and smart devices, and then display commercials, product information, and personalized promotions – at just the right time.

Curious how big of a market digital signage is? Hint: huge. The global market value for digital signage is expecting to grow to $32.84 billion by 2023! If you’re looking to make the most of your digital signage, consider using a tool such as Sales Receipt Viewer & Analytics. The tool provides web-based receipt data and allows you to download digital receipts, analyze sales trends, discover sales anomalies, and more.

An Example of Digital Signage. (Source: Sophatar)

5. Supply Chain Management

Simply put, IoT is redefining supply chain management across the globe. Here are three examples:

  • Asset Tracking: RFID and GPS sensors can track products from factory to store. This not only makes asset tracking much easier, but it can also provide important information such as what temperature a product was kept at and how long it took to sell.
  • Inventory: Using IoT sensors, retailers can instantly check inventory levels and proactively receive alerts when a product’s inventory is low. The sensors are also very helpful in tracking purchasing trends, making inventory management a more efficient process.
  • Maintenance: IoT sensors can also be placed on manufacturing equipment to keep on top of scheduled maintenance, preventing expensive and untimely break-downs.
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5 Reasons Why Shoppers Still Prefer Brick-and-Mortar

The constant evolution of e-commerce provides a hybrid of digital and physical purchasing possibilities to customers. While the appeal of an online market is steadily increasing, consumers still cannot resist the social experiences and certain advantages that brick-and-mortar is able to provide. Among the many irreplaceable elements of the in-store shopping experience that cannot be replicated online, here are the top five reasons why shoppers still rely on – and prefer – brick-and-mortar retailers.

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  1. Personalized Shopping Experience

With all of the advancements that online shopping provides, it still cannot compete with the personalized in-store shopping experience that’s found at brick-and-mortar stores – and that customers crave. Walking up and down the aisles, listening to the music, taking the time to browse and linger; there’s just no way the web can parallel such an immersive experience.

It’s this sort of engagement and excitement that continuously attracts shoppers to brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, according to Retail Touch Points, during the 2018 holiday season 96% of consumers did at least some of their shopping in-store, thanks to the ambiance and festive decor found in physical stores.

In addition to a store’s ambiance, physical stores also attract (and retain) customers through hosting events and classes – something an online store just can’t do. Some examples of events held in retail stores are product launch parties, book signings, holiday parties, charity events, and various classes for cooking, crafting, DIY home projects, and more. And don’t be mistaken, just because events are held in person doesn’t mean they can’t feature the convenience of the digital world. It’s easy for customers to securely pay registration fees and obtain event tickets online, using tools like Star Micronics’ partner Authorize.Net to provide a simplified payment process.

Simply put, brick-and-mortar stores offer a level of customer service and personalized experience that online shopping simply can’t duplicate, making one thing clear: the need for physical stores is here to stay.

2. Ability to Preview Products In-Person – Before Purchase Commitment

One of the biggest advantages that brick-and-mortar stores have is the ability for consumers to inspect products before buying them. Getting a feel for the material, verifying the quality, and testing the product before committing to it is a surefire way to avoid surprises that can be caused by misleading online information and pictures. A recent TimeTrade report showed that as many as 87% of modern consumers want to see and experience a product prior to “taking the plunge.”

Who can blame them? Shoppers value seeing goods in person because it helps avoid inaccurate sizing, malfunctioning equipment, and product scams. Even with an abundance of high-quality photos and videos available online, there’s still nothing like seeing a product with your own eyes and touching it with your own hands, which is why consumers still travel to physical stores to get the most bang for their buck.

3. Quick, Hassle-Free Returns

Even with the alluring ability to inspect products before purchasing, there’s always a possibility that customers may need to return an item. But there’s no question about it, the return policies available at brick-and-mortar stores offer a more simplistic and engaging process than their online counterparts. With just one quick stop, shoppers are able to verbally discuss their returns, ask questions, learn about new deals, and possibly even negotiate the return policy terms.

Brick-and-mortar returns are a clear winner for customers seeking an urgent solution – they can replace the item right then and there, with no shipping costs, no deadline stress, and certainly no waiting. While online platforms consistently update return policies to better enhance customer service, brick-and-mortar stores continue to have benefits up their sleeves that makes in-store returns simply irresistible.

4. Easy, Quick and Detailed Customer Service

It’s undeniable that face-to-face customer service continues to reign supreme, even with the rise of modern online customer service tools. The interactive service offered at brick-and-mortar stores helps shoppers locate products in the store, get second opinions, and more. This sort of personalized expertise and knowledge is highly favored because it provides consumers with a level of interaction that can only happen in-person, as well as answers that even the web might not have (yes, that skirt matches that blouse).

A recent Retail CX Trends study showed that 30% of consumers claim that personalized treatment is what elevates an experience and makes them feel special. The ability for brick-and-mortar stores to offer consistent service that is tailored to the customers’ specific needs and situations ultimately saves the consumer time and improves their overall shopping experience. You just can’t find that level of customized, instant attention online.

5. Ability to Take Items Home Immediately

Even if an online store offers two-day or same-day delivery, no form of expedited shipping can compare to the delivery speed experienced at physical stores. When consumers choose a brick-and-mortar store, they don’t need to worry about waiting, handling fees, or damaged and lost packages. Only physical stores are able to offer the satisfaction of immediately bringing an item (that you know is correct and in satisfactory shape) home.

Today’s shoppers have spoken and they want their purchases now. A recent Retail Dive survey shows that 49% of consumers choose brick-and-mortar stores over the web because they like to take home items immediately. Just one swipe of a credit card unlocks the instant use of your latest buy – the perfect option for the impulse buyer or last-minute shopper in all of us.

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5 Futuristic Ways to Order Online

Ah, online ordering. Who doesn’t love it? Online ordering makes the ordering process easier, improves order accuracy, keeps costs transparent, and more. And the public agrees: a whopping 86% of consumers report using online ordering services at least monthly, and a third are using it more than they did a year ago.

One of the biggest segments of online ordering is food delivery, which is expected to grow 12% each year, for the next five years (and beyond, we’re sure). In such a booming industry (online food delivery alone is expected to be a $137 billion market by 2023), it comes as no surprise that new ways to order on the web are popping up left and right. Let’s explore five futuristic ways to order online – that are already happening.

  1. Order by Tweet

Did you know that on top of catching up on your daily news and memes, you can also order a pizza on Twitter? Domino’s Pizza allows customers to make a “pizza profile” on its online delivery service, create an “Easy Order” (which is like a pizza speed dial), link the pizza profile to their Twitter account, and order simply by tweeting a pizza emoji to Dominos’ Twitter account. Dominos also allows customers to order via Google Home, Alexa, Slack, Facebook Messenger, and more. Ordering via social networks is an interesting thing, and there is certainly already a market for social media-driven online ordering.

2. Order Through Virtual Assistant

You can ask Alexa for the forecast, to play your favorite song … or to order your lunch. Companies such as Just Eat, which has 24 million customers across the globe, are using virtual assistant technology to further modernize and personalize the food ordering process.

Per Storm Fagan, head of product at Just Eat, “It’s as simple as having a conversation with your partner and you’re talking about what takeaway to order of an evening and, as natural as that conversation is, a voice assistant like Amazon Alexa will join in with your conversation. It will know how many people are in your home and what sort of food you like, and they can start recommending food options to you. Rather than us having to go to a website, it’s almost as if Just Eat will exist in your home with you.”

3. Order via Smartwatch

Smartwatches are no longer just for early adopters: in 2018 alone, 141 million of them were sold. With such a big adoption comes another wave of innovation and new features. One example of this is OrderUp/GrubHub, which allows a customer to place an order, track delivery status, and check estimated time of arrival, all through their watch. Expect to hear more about smartwatch functionality in the near future – the market is expected to grow to $73 billion by 2022.

4. Order from Car

Cars aren’t just for driving you to places where you can buy things – now you can buy things directly through your car! Take General Motors, for example. The automaker has launched GM Marketplace in millions of its cars, providing car owners the option to order food and beverages from Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Wingstop and more – all through the press of a button. Because the vehicles that feature GM Marketplace also have Wi-Fi connectivity, when drivers place an order through their car, it automatically will locate the nearest store and direct the driver how to get there. Although the service is predominantly foodservice-based, GM says there’s a huge potential for retailers to cash in on orders placed through cars.

5. Order with Eyes

Perhaps the most far fetched-sounding method of them all, believe it or not, you can order with your eyeballs. In conjunction with Tobii Technology, Pizza Hut developed Subconscious Menu, which tracks customer eye movement, and suggests pizza ingredients based on what a customer’s eyes focused on. Creepy? A little bit. Efficient? You betcha: the menu can suggest just the right pie for you, out of nearly 5,000 combinations, in 2.5 seconds.