February 1, 2014
In today’s digital and mobile world, marketing looks a lot different than even a few years ago. Keeping up on the latest media trends and gizmos to make sure you’re reaching consumers is an ongoing challenge, especially for independent natural products retailers who don’t have a ton of time or resources. Angela Cason founded New York City–based TEMPO Strategic in 2010 to help specialty businesses create cohesive multimedia marketing strategies that connect with modern, mobile shoppers.
Natural Foods Merchandiser: Are retailers missing opportunities by not embracing mobile marketing?
Angela Cason: Trends come and go, so the question is whether any technology can solve more issues than it causes. Independents often don’t have the bandwidth to manage new media, so rather than worrying about being trendy, think about what’ll create value for your customers. Take on only what you can execute well. Walk before you run so you understand the time and production costs of creating content. For example, commit to tweeting your daily specials consistently at first, and then see what you’re ready to take on next.
NFM: Is showrooming happening in natural stores? What should do?
AC: Have you noticed the new Best Buy commercials? After a debacle last year, the chain is now calling itself “your ultimate holiday showroom,” bowing to the trend and assisting customers with selection. I don’t have data on showrooming for natural retail, but it’s probably less common because price points are lower. And since so many natural products are either unregulated or unable to make claims, consumers look for authoritative recommendations, so there’s a trust relationship with shop owners. But showrooming certainly still happens, so if you’re not thinking about e-commerce, you should be.
NFM: What are they doing on their phones?
AC: Assuming they’re using smartphones to shop, not just chat with friends, their activity actually depends on gender. Men are more likely to compare hard features and prices, while women share info and ask questions.
NFM: Should natural retailers create an app, mobile website or both?
AC: You absolutely need a mobile website, not only because Google will include it in SEO rankings, but 99 percent of downloaded apps get used only once, and sales response is higher from mobile sites than from apps. A solid mobile site should have a responsive design that automatically formats on any device and simplified content based on the kinds of activities users engage in on-the-go.
NFM: Are QR codes still important or passé?
AC: There are still some believers out there, but terrible back-end content really killed QR codes. Too many companies asked consumers to take out their phones, open an app, scan a package and get … a commercial message. Really? There was just no reward.
NFM: Any new mobile technologies that may benefit natural products retailers?
AC: There are great systems out there, such as RewardTechnology, which lets you integrate customer purchase history data into a system that sends customized special offers to loyalists’ phones when they walk in your door. You can target vegans with specific deals, or offer two-for-ones to clear out inventory, just to specific customers based on their buying histories. And the next buzz you’ll hear about is Image Recognition.
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