How retailers can build a strong digital presence

Despite the announcement of a COVID vaccine last week, it’s clear that consumers’ shopping habits won’t be returning to ‘normal’ anytime soon. Even before the crisis, the high street had been fighting a losing battle against Amazon and the wider shift towards e-commerce. This has only accelerated as lockdown restrictions and fear of spreading the coronavirus force people to abandon brick and mortar stores for online shopping.

According to research, e-commerce will account for around a third of total retail sales in the UK for the first time ever this year. What’s more, this figure is only set to rise as data from McKinsey shows that consumers are likely to maintain the behaviours they’ve adopted during the pandemic. In response to changing consumer habits, retailers need to completely rethink how they operate. In particular, they need to work on developing their digital offering in order to remain competitive amidst the changing retail landscape.

Invest in Google Shopping

Firstly, retailers need to invest in Google Shopping. The platform allows consumers to search for, compare, and shop for physical products across different retailers who have paid to advertise their products on the site. Google Shopping benefits retailers because when a shopper clicks on a product link, they’re sent back to the retailer’s own platform to make the purchase. It’s great for driving sales, with research finding that ads on the platform have a 30% higher conversion rate than text ads.

However, creating cut through on Google Shopping is easier said than done. With more and more retailers turning to the platform to increase their online traffic during the pandemic, it’s more important than ever for retail marketers to understand how to use the platform effectively in order to stand out in a increasingly crowded field. If retailers don’t optimise their Google Shopping marketing strategy then they will find that they are wasting ad spend and time and more importantly sales to competitors.

Proper tracking on Google Shopping is crucial. This means understanding how their products are performancing financially and statistically on the site. However, due to the constantly changing nature of Google Shopping, it’s incredibly difficult to track every product in a retailer’s catalogue. Therefore, retailers with large catalogues need to partner with specialists to effectively manage their ads. Google Shopping specialists such as Bidnamic help retailers by tracking the performance of products through a mixture of machine learning and human insight.

Build an influencer marketing strategy

The collapse of Arcadia Group earlier this month shows the importance of an effective influencer marketing strategy in creating a strong digital presence. TopShop and Arcadia were early pioneers of influencer marketing with their partnership with Kate Moss in 2007, but recently lost ground to new digital-first brands such as Pretty Little Thing and Missguided. As a result, TopShop lost its edge to competitors.

The lesson from the collapse of Arcadia Group and TopShop is that an effective influencer marketing strategy can give a retailer credibility and popularity. Influencers have the ability to help drive more people to your products and services, as they have already gained the trust of their followers. If they are seen promoting your product, their audience is likely to try it out too. According to research, 22% of consumers are more likely to purchase something because an influencer recommended it on social media.

While we still don’t know when the government’s COVID-19 restrictions will end, we do know that brick and mortar retailers will continue to struggle for the foreseeable future. The pandemic has forced consumer behaviour to change beyond repair and as a result retailers need to change too. Without a strong digital presence, retailers will find that they repeatedly lose ground to competitors that embrace the latest marketing methods such as Google Shopping and influencer marketing. Retailers, therefore, need to adapt or face the same fate as collapsing brick and mortar players like Arcadia.

Liam Patterson, CEO and Founder at Bidnamic

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