Retail is Not Shrinking

Store closures, bankruptcies and scaling back are in the news – hitting industry stalwarts like JC Penney and Sears, as well as newer players. Simultaneously, current headlines include Walmart and Google's partnership, and the Amazon acquisition of Whole Foods is being completed. We're also seeing retailers opening new stores, including beauty, sporting goods, automotive, grocery and other categories.

But here's the thing, even though more stores have been opened than closed, and sales have increased $100B in 2017 (according to IHL), measuring the growth (or shrinkage) of retail in terms of doors or square footage renders an incomplete picture.

Within the reality of meeting consumers wherever and whenever they are: 'always-on shopping' combining brick & mortar, social, e-commerce, mobile, virtual assistants, etc. – retail continues to expand. Bain's US Census data analysis indicates a steady 5 year growth average of 4%, including similar year over year growth from 2015 to 2016 holiday seasons.

So, what are some of the key factors to consider? The number one driver of sales growth at brick & mortar is BOPiS, 40% of ALL search begins on Amazon, and there is a significant 20% increase in brand-direct sales via their dotcom stores.

Everything Will Be Mobile

"Nothing will be 'mobile' anymore, because everything will be mobile."

So recently said Intel's Global Marketing VP in regards to 5G technology.

Brace yourselves, we are entering the post-smartphone era and the next major digital transformation. By 2020, there will be more than 30 BILLION* connected devices. Everything that can be connected will be.

Fifth generation (5G) mobile technology is just about here and the implications are nothing short of monumental. The recent Mobile World Congress Event in Barcelona provided a tantalizing glimpse into the future. Video-displaying wearables, advanced autonomous cars, even greater augmented reality and virtually reality and so on – all delivered as a result of an uninterrupted, lag-free 5G experience.

What are the far-reaching implications for connected consumers, whose expectations are evolving faster than retailers are able to innovate to create truly personalized, efficient, high quality omni-channel shopper experiences? Leading-edge technologies, with 5G as the engine of the consumer interface across the entire purchase journey, will remake the face, bones and brains of the retail store, enabling brands and retailers to engage in new types of interactions with shoppers and tell stories in new and emotionally powerful ways. Here's just a teaser . . .

  • Digital retail will be shaped by sensors, data analytics, robotics, natural interfaces, and computing ubiquity. These connected ecosystems will improve the shopping experience by making it more personal, more efficient, and more fun for consumers.
  • In-store automation will free up human "labor" to focus on customer service and enable human touch connections that can't be replicated online. This will increase the currency of smart in-store expert advice.
  • Smart products sold in smart stores with smart infrastructure – in service of surprising and delighting shoppers. The $15B trillion dollar retail sector is about to undergo a new era of digital transformation.
And consider the implications for marketers as media networks become even more fragmented and consumer data more controlled.

There is a clear and exciting opportunity for brands and retailer partners to build unique digital experiences and connected consumer journeys. 5G will be a key game-changing platform that fuels this new era of digital transformation.

*Source: IoT platforms: enabling the Internet of Things, March 2016 IHS

TWICE & CCS Partner to Publish Consumer Insights Survey on Home Automation

On September 19, 2016, TWICE published a CCS survey on how consumers are thinking about Smart Home Automation solutions and devices. Key insights include personal data security being a chief concern, CE retailers being the preferred place to purchase, and 79% of those surveyed already own a smart home device. Go here to see Alan Wolf's full article and complete survey results.

CCS Spotlight: Social Media Hub

How are people experiencing your brand and how are they talking about it? CCS has developed a Social Media Hub that aggregates social media posts into a single dashboard environment. Real-time feeds of brand account and hashtag mentions from Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Vine, Pinterest, Youtube and other sources enable users to engage, share, like and comment directly within the Hub. The solution offers powerful moderation tools to curate and manage UGC, as well as robust analytics capabilities to measure effectiveness, user acquisition and engagement with your brand.

Client Spotlight: Gamified "Summer Fest" Promotion Successfully Engages RSAs

CCS developed a robust promotion utilizing game characteristics to motivate targeted RSAs. The music-festival themed campaign includes compelling competition, rewards, social media and communications elements to stimulate frequent engagement, create product ownership for influencers, and ultimately drive advocacy and recommendations. Highlights include:

  • Achievement Levels
  • Exclusive offers & rewards for loyalty
  • Limited time-bound offers & pop-up prizes
  • Social Media amplification
  • "Do this, get this": direct rewards for actions
  • Mobile-optimized & highly consumable "snackable" content

Contact us to learn more about how to effectively engage retail experts and drive purchase passion for your brand.

Critical Retail Trends Impacting Your Brand Today

Retail is rapidly changing, perhaps more so than in any other time in its history. CCS draws upon 20+ years of experience, exclusive retail partnerships, robust data tools, and thousands of in-market Retail Xperts to constantly observe, analyze and make sense of what's happening at the critical moments of purchase, including:

  • Monetizing space
  • Monetizing labor hours
  • Proliferation of emerging, technologies, brands
  • Fragmentation of the consumer decision journey
  • Retailers seeking more control

Contact us to learn more about these and other trends we're seeing, and let's talk about the strategies needed to stay out in front of them.

6 Factors that Drive Associate Recommendation

CCS research identifies 6 key factors that determine WHY retail associates provide support and ultimately make recommendations for specific products:

  • Compensation & Incentives: will they tangibly benefit?
  • Comfort Level & Confidence: gained from education
  • Ad-Share / Driving Traffic: what the brand is doing to put shoppers in store
  • Shelf-Share: having the right messasging and presence
  • In-Stock: product availability
  • Reputation: awareness & credibility

What Retail Sales Associates Are Telling Us

There are tried and true best practices, but the needs and behaviors of RSAs continue to evolve. Here's what our research is telling us about how they can be best engaged to drive affinity and recommendation:

  • They want shorter, more easily consumed, "snackable" pieces of content
  • Improved access and usability – anywhere, anytime, any device
  • They are looking for relevant, personalized content that meets their needs and knowledge level
  • They want direct rewards for their activities – "I do this, I get that"

Forbes Reports: CCS is Driving Sales Results this Holiday Season

CCS was recently reported by Forbes to be one of the top 10 US companies in hiring sales positions, which is a testament to the significant amount of retail activation programs CCS is delivering in Q4 2015.

Leading brands are partnered with CCS to drive consumer engagement, sell-through, associate recommendations and strategic insights from the point of purchase, contact Creative Channel Services to learn more about the challenges, opportunities and solutions we can partner together on.