Retail has undergone a dramatic shift in recent years. If you’ve ordered a garden hose or a bluetooth speaker online and received it within 24-hours, you know what I mean.
Between 2010 and 2014, average e-commerce growth was $30 billion annually. Over the past three years, average annual growth increased to $40 billion. Meanwhile, retail stores are closing at an eye-popping rate and 89,000 American workers in general merchandise stores have been laid off between October 2016 and April 2017.
Customer behaviors have also changed drastically. Now, shoppers in physical stores are on their phones almost all the time — researching products, shopping around for better prices, or asking friends for opinions on potential purchases. Discovery has gone from the controlled in-store environment to a free-for-all online.
Here’s how crazy things have gotten: 73% of shoppers with smartphones prefer to use their mobile device in-store rather than ask a sales associate for help. Meanwhile, 84% have had difficulty finding products on retailers’ crowded shelves. There’s clearly a disconnect here.
What does it all mean for shopping malls — once a great bastion of retail Americana? While malls are certainly feeling the woes of the retail industry, they’re actually in a unique position to capitalize on changing paradigm shifts and consumer behaviors to increase revenue. Here’s how:
Meet Shoppers Where They Are: Their Phones
Imagine a woman is shopping for a summer cocktail party. She’d go to the mall, walk into some well-known stores and spend lots of time browsing dresses, hats and accessories. All the while she’d be on her phone — in danger of finding a better deal online and abandoning the mall altogether.
Now imagine this scenario: The woman opens a mobile experience featuring a gallery of inspirational, lifestyle content — some from brands and some from regular people who posted great pics on social. Perhaps she stumbles upon an image of a model wearing a sleek black jumpsuit. With one click, she sees the price, learns it’s in stock and realizes it’s in a store that’s just a short walk away. There’s even a map to help her navigate through the mall to that particular store. It’s the same moment of discovery that the woman might have at home while scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, but it’s happening in-the-moment, when she’s more likely to buy.
The latter scenario is not only possible, it’s a potential game-changer powered by Curalate technology. The ability to connect the in-store experience to their mobile phones means more chances that the customer discovers what she wants and then makes a purchase.
In the scenario above, the consumer can:
- Sort by look
- Sort by brand
- Sort by product type (like makeup, apparel)
- Add products to a digital shopping list
Such an experience keeps the user contained to one digital touchpoint rather than flipping between multiple social networks and e-commerce sites. Plus it gives people the best of both worlds: they can research online, then shop in real life where they can see, touch and try on the products before committing to a purchase.
It also lends itself well to compelling influencer marketing campaigns. Perhaps an Instagram star or popular blogger agrees to be featured in the gallery of lifestyle content for a period of time. Maybe they even make an in-mall appearance too. Hey, malls excelled at in-mall celebrity appearances back in the 1980s when stars like Debbie Gibson and Tiffany drew long lines of adoring fans. Why not excel in influencer marketing in the digital age?
Such a solution isn’t a pipe dream, it’s one of many ways the Curalate platform is helping to reshape the future of commerce. Want to learn more? Request a demo today.
Want to learn the skinny on influencer marketing so your brand can partner with bloggers and social media stars to gain audience and build brand awareness? Check out our free guide here.