Out in the Cold

February 6, 2014By Industry Intuition, Views

by Dave Wendland for Drug Store News

February 6, 2014 – For those of us living in the Midwest — and perhaps throughout the country — we have become familiar with a weather term "polar vortex." No doubt you've heard the phrase pinging around the news media in recent weeks. One of the coldest Arctic outbreaks in two decades has blanketed a significant portion of our country, bringing bitterly cold temperatures to the Midwest, South, and East.

This unusually cold weather has likely put a deep freeze on retail sales, also. Not only did the retail sector experience a lackluster holiday shopping season, but now they are also hit with the reality that some shoppers are simply not going out into the cold. The winners may very well be online retailers.

What could this signal for traditional brick-and-mortar operators? It’s time to develop an omnichannel strategy before it’s too late. I’m not suggesting that these retailers dip their toes into the icy water, but rather they take a polar plunge…without hesitation.

Here are five strategies for retailers who want to get started:

  1. Make it personal – engaging customers in a dialogue across all of their desired platforms in a consistent, meaningful way is paramount
  2. Create synergy – the mobile and in-store experiences should appear seamless (disparity will undermine clarity)
  3. Tap social media – reach shoppers when and where they are through effective alignment of social media assets and transactional sites
  4. Reward shoppers – offer reasons for shoppers not only to be loyal, but to keep coming back, bringing others with them
  5. Assortment strategy – consistently display products with up-to-date images, content, and details to make shopping easier while guiding a shopper’s path to purchase to fill their market basket

The evolution towards an integrated physical, digital, mobile, and social shopping experience is underway. Retailers are increasingly moving towards cross-channel customer experiences. It will be interesting to see what happens and what works — but the chill of this winter should motivate many to get moving.

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