2017 retail marketing trends for brick and mortar stores

DATE:December 14, 2016

From an outsider’s perspective, online shopping can seem like the new most popular way to make purchases. However, 71% of consumers actually prefer to shop in-store, even if the same item is available to them online. And though Forrester Research predicts that 11% of all transactions will be web sales by 2018, that is a relatively small percentage, just a 3% increase since 2013. There’s obviously something comforting about being able to hold a product and see it with your own eyes before purchasing.

In the past few years, even E-commerce shops are realizing the importance of having brick and mortar locations. Warby Parker and Bonobos are two such shops who have seen success since deciding to branch out into physical locations after years of online only. Even Amazon is also testing out an advanced type of retail store called Amazon Go in Seattle which will open in early 2017.

Online and in-store shopping both appeal to customers in different ways and for different reasons. The best marketing practices to draw customers to the shops are also largely different because of this. Here’s a look into 2017 predicted retail marketing trends specifically for brick and mortar stores.

Trend #1:  A cohesive cross-channel experience for customers

In 2017, retailers will turn their focus to creating a cohesive online and in store brand to create better customer recognition. This could be colors or shapes from the company’s website being used for in-store design or, depending upon the industry, this could mean even the products draw some connection to the maker’s brand design. Ease of recognition is key for gaining and retaining customers, even if an overarching design isn’t a conscious trigger when they walk into your store:

  • Example: Apple is often pointed to as the king of the cohesive design, implementing elements such as a recognizable picture logo, sleek product packaging, cohesive names (iPhone, iPad, iWatch etc.) and a crisp, clean design that envelops their products, websites, social channels and physical stores.

Trend #2: Beacon and wearable tech

2017 will also be the year of personalized retail experience. Retailers are beginning to better understand how to craft a unique strategy catered toward each customer. This is where beacons and wearables could come into play. According to Startek, more than half of customers say they would buy wearable tech that allows brands to send them alerts and gather insights. This would allow companies to better know their target audiences and create products that customers actually want.

  • Example: Macy’s partnered with Shopkick, a location-based coupon app, to use Apple’s iBeacon technology this holiday season for the first time at nearly 800 stores nationwide. The beacons will be used to track customers within their store, inform shoppers about sales and send them product recommendations and discounts.

Trend #3: Interactive digital displays and signage

Recently, retailers are turning toward visual displays that use video to attract the eye of customers. This trend is predicted to steeply increase in 2017 as they promote customer engagement. 70% of customers view digital signs as entertaining and 33% who view them make purchases. These interactive screens sometimes promote a specific product via video or even touch screen interaction. We already see TV screens playing advertisements at certain stores’ checkout lanes. Sometimes these screens also track the store’s traffic, which gives the company’s marketing team better insights into what customers are buying and how to better their in-store experience.

  • Example: Dr. Scholl’s Custom Fit Orthotics Kiosk is placed usually in the pharmacy section of large grocery stores and allows customers to have their feet charted in order to tell them which Dr. Scholl’s inserts best fit their needs. Not only is the unit hard to miss when walking past in a store, it promotes purchases in addition to customer interaction and satisfaction.

Trend #4: Mobile apps for physical stores

We have already seen these in the form of Target’s Cartwheel and many from coffee shops and fast food restaurants, but 2017 is set to be the true rise of the mobile app loyalty program with more and more companies developing their own. These apps are usually used as a simplified way to track rewards and to pay for items purchased in store rather than a rewards card or credit card. Sometimes they will be used as an extension of the company’s online web store. Either way, these apps allow companies with physical stores to continue connecting with their customers long after they have left the store.

  • Example: Starbucks’ mobile reward program made up for 21% of the company’s United States purchases in the first quarter of 2016 and has one of the highest customer satisfaction ratings. Customers “check in” via the app to earn reward points and pay this way as well.

It’s our goal at Imagine! Express to keep you in the know for the industry’s latest trends. Retailers looking to reassess their marketing strategy for 2017, let’s get in touch.

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