Article | May 4, 2021
In recent years, the focus and surge in ecommerce has been undeniable. There has been clear evidence of how a lack of online consideration can ultimately result in a brand’s demise, with Debenhams and Topshop just two recent examples. However, the latest moves by online giants, including Amazon, are suggesting we’re not quite ready for a complete digital switchover just yet.
In this article, Nate Burke, CEO at Diginius, a proprietary software solutions provider for digital marketing and ecommerce, explains that multichannel models are the next logical step, and how businesses can boost their prospects with not just a presence in both the digital and physical space, but by combining the two to create a frictionless customer experience.
While it might have felt like the pandemic was driving us closer to some sort of digital utopia, particularly with the closure of non-essential shops, remote working and online social gatherings being the norm for over a year now, it has become apparent neither businesses nor consumers are quite ready for things to transform to such an extent just yet.
One clear piece of evidence is the buzz and excitement that surrounded the reopening of retail in England and Wales from 12 April. This date marks the first time this year non-essential stores allowed customers to enter, browse and purchase items in the traditional bricks and mortar way.
Stores and hospitality venues were met with queuing customers on day one of the eased restrictions, showing a clear desire for physical brand offerings. One brand in particular which is known for its strictly-bricks and mortar model is Primark. Despite months of plummeted sales, its stores across England and Wales were one of the most popular among consumers on the first day of reopening, with many even lining up outside before business hours.
Although the excitement may have simply been down to pent up frustration after having spent months indoors with few other recreational activities available, there is undeniably a certain sense of trust, convenience and comfort offered by the in-store experience, that digital channels are yet to trump.
However, when taking to high streets and re-entering shopping centres after so long, consumers are no doubt being met with an unrecognisable physical retail landscape, with a significant number of empty units, some of which once belonged to flagship stores and iconic brands.
A changing physical landscape
The pandemic was the tipping point for many brands that had been slow or reluctant to adapt to the gradual digital transformation that has been occurring for some years now, examples of which include Debenhams and businesses operating under the Arcadia Group. Essentially, while some of these brands were struggling against online competitors before the initial lockdown, forced store closures drove customers to shop with those that had perfected their digital experience as there was no physical alternative anymore. So with no other options, the enhanced experience and simpler processes of trusted online brands outweighed any incentives to remain loyal to those which favoured the in-store offering. Evidently, the two channels are not the same and a mere presence in both online and offline spaces is not enough.
But while consumers bid farewell to stores they have known and visited their whole life, we welcome new brands and ways of shopping to the high street, suggesting it’s not completely over for bricks and mortar just yet.
One of the latest additions is Amazon Fresh. The online giant has been taking up space in physical retail across the U.S. for some years now, with bookstores, Amazon Go and the acquisition of Whole Foods. While the latter helped Amazon break into the competitive grocery market in the UK too, its most recent Amazon Fresh store opening in Ealing, London, is on track to solidify its position.
The unique store concept of a till-less shopping experience aims to disrupt the grocery industry by removing frictions and enabling customers to get their goods in the most convenient way. The concept utilises hundreds of cameras, depth sensors and artificial intelligence to recognise and monitor items customers pick up and put back. Upon entry, they scan a barcode on their Amazon Shopping smartphone app, and upon leaving, their accounts are automatically charged with the items they walk out with.
Of course, Amazon certainly did not need to make this move into physical retail, especially considering their growing online financial performance. However, the business clearly understands the importance of a model that comprises both online and physical channels, particularly as consumers’ behaviours and sentiments adjust following the pandemic.
Digital-led bricks and mortar
While digital offerings have provided a lifeline for both businesses and consumers amid lockdown restrictions, there are still certain items that customers prefer to buy in-store, with groceries and clothing two of the biggest categories. Ultimately, in-store grocery shopping remains the most convenient way to get items you need instantly, and digital is yet to offer a way to help customers gauge fit, feel and quality of clothing items online. The only option is to place an order and return it if you are unsatisfied, which as Amazon is beginning to understand, comes at a great financial and environmental cost.
The brand’s physical stores offer a way to combat these issues until a digital solution is established. Not only do they offer a fast and seamless way to shop for essential grocery items, Amazon Fresh also features a station at which online orders can be picked up and returned, minimising the impact delivery to multiple addresses and round return trips have on its bottom line and the planet.
Going forward, this is precisely what the future of retail will look like. Rather than pulling all physical presence, technology and digital software needs to be integrated into in-store offerings in order to reduce pain points of either channel.
Many multichannel retailers offer similar click and collect services that help merge customer experiences across channels and create a seamless and convenient process. And while Amazon Fresh is a unique concept, we can see other brands making similar moves with the likes of Scan and Go services and self-checkouts.
By embracing and leveraging the technology available, brands can make the most of their multichannel models, whereby online and offline routes are not separate entities, but rather a way to boost business prospects through greater presence, frictionless processes and an overall better buying experience for the customer.
Article | March 3, 2020
Marketing automation tools are essential in today’s world. However, there are so many choices available in the market that selecting the best one for your firm becomes a challenge. Figuring out the differences between all the tools can prove to be a somewhat arduous task. However, this post is here to help you decide on the perfect marketing automation tool for you.
Article | March 11, 2021
When you’re an expert in something, you forget that not everyone else is. Because website content, user experience and design best practices are like second nature to me, I now realize I was wrong about DIY websites. They are not a good idea.
Unless you are in marketing, don’t do it. You’ll make a mess.
This year, I’ve worked with a few companies who insisted on updating their websites with the new copy I created for them. These are brilliant companies lead by brilliant people who are leaders in their field. They are phenomenal clients, and I respect them tremendously.
But their websites are just … wow. And not in a good way.
Why DIY websites are a bad idea
Would you do your own dental work? Install and landscape a pool? Replace your home’s wiring and bring it up to code?
Now, some smart asses out there would say yes. Dentists, professional pool installers and electricians would say yes. But you get the idea.
The crux of my argument is:
Leave it to the experts.
And yes, I do realize that there are some amazing DIY website platforms out there. They were specifically created to help non-experts build a web presence.
But these platforms don’t let you color outside the lines, so to speak. Once you start changing the design of the theme or template, you are headed into wow-not-in-a-good-way territory.
The most common mistakes DIYers make
The biggest mistakes fall into three categories: content, user experience and design.
The number one content mistake I see is what I refer to as “inward-facing” copy. It’s about the company, not the client. Instead of speaking directly to the clients’ needs and saying, “We do this for you,” it’s more like, “We do this.”
It’s very me, me, me and we, we, we. Which is a big no, no, no. Your clients don’t care what you do. They care what you can do for them.
A lot of companies also write way too much, bunching words in dense paragraphs that no one is going to slog through. And because it’s so hard to write about yourself, messaging tends to be fuzzy. Essential elements, like calls-to-action, are often missing as well.
The list goes on, but if you add up just the above, you are left with a website that doesn’t make a good impression. And that leads me to user experience.
User experience mistakes
User experience, also known as UX, is an important niche within web design. Without a good UX, your bounce rate (how quickly people leave your website) will be very high.
(And yes, I know I’m a copywriter, but I have to understand UX to write good web copy.)
Most UX mistakes that DIYers make have to do with navigation.
For example, I see content broken out into too many pages. Instead of grouping a company’s history, approach, mission and values on one page, each of these topics get their own page. I don’t know of anyone who will patiently click through four pages of a website to learn this essential company information.
Good UX also ensures each page is a “closed loop,” aka, web visitors never hit a dead end. They can always navigate to another page from the page they’re on, whether it’s a contact form, a case study or a blog post. This ensures they always have more to do (and it keeps them on your website, which is a good thing).
Web design mistakes
Even though I was super into art when I was young, I never in a million years would attempt to design a website. It’s an art and a science.
Good web design uses different (but corresponding) fonts, colors and sizes to vary the texture of the copy. It also sizes and aligns images just right, adds contrasting blocks to signal you’re in a new section of content and keeps your eyes engaged and the brand visually coherent.
This is a tough balancing act that requires excellent graphic design skills.
As I alluded to above, I don’t mess around with it. If I did, my website would look like a first grader designed it. And that’s not exactly the vibe I want to give off.
So now what?
If you’re now thinking, “Oh crap, I wonder if my website is a POS,” I suggest hiring a marketing agency to do a website audit of your front end (what web visitors see) and back end (the configuration and apps that are running your site).
You might find out that your website only needs a few tweaks to. Or, you might find out it needs a full overhaul.
Either way, you’ll end up with a more functional website that better serves your clients. At the end of the day, it’s all about them anyway.
Article | March 15, 2020
Exploiting the immense potential of artificial intelligence to excel in business is no longer a far-fetched pipe dream. Many companies have already discovered this, and as technology advances at a rapid rate, it’s clear now that machine learning and marketing go hand-in-hand. In this age, to do one without the other is a mistake no business can afford, not if they want to remain competitive. Data insights are more valuable than ever before, enabling for better customer engagement. It comes as no surprise that there is an increased reliance on data. Gartner research projects that more than 75% of companies will invest in big data in the next two years.
For businesses today, being able to anticipate customer behavior is key to optimizing marketing campaigns. In this article, we’ll explore just how machine learning can help companies improve and enhance their marketing efforts.