CES Session: Tapping Mobile And Social Media To Bring Shoppers In-Store

Particularly in the electronics industry, products are released at a rapid pace. To grab consumers’ attention and dollars, it is vital that retailers create an educational and engaging experience across channels. They also must integrate new, innovative marketing tools and tactics to drive traffic into their brick-and-mortar stores.

Andrew Gaffney, Editor and Publisher of Retail TouchPoints, moderated the panel that addressed these points during the 2012 International CES conference, Jan. 10-13, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Gaffney’s session, titled “Electronics Retailing in the 21st Century,” shed insight into multichannel marketing tips and tricks.

During the Business Insights discussion, participants shared the importance of emerging marketing tools, such as localization and personalized communication via social media and mobile channels. The participating panelists included: Tracy Boyd, VP of Product Management and Marketing, Premier Retail Networks, Inc.; Cheryl Flink, SVP, Customer Knowledge for Market Force Information; Steve Kazanjian, VP of Global Creative for MeadWestvaco; and Carol Spieckerman, President of newmarketbuilders.


Boyd spotlighted the emergence of the knowledgeable, research-dependent shopper by citing research indicating that the average path to purchase could take more than one month to complete. During this customer life cycle, a shopper could receive insight and information from more than 17 influencers. Retailers can adapt to these evolving behaviors by providing an influx of information across channels, she noted.

“Consumers don’t think in the mindset of channels; they think about brands and products,” Boyd said. “Creating an omnichannel experience for customers is really important. It is critical that retailers provide shoppers with the tools to obtain the information they need, whether it is accessed on their mobile device or a touch screen kiosk. It’s all about providing information to help make the sale.”

As shoppers grow more fluent in comparing prices, browsing inventory and interacting with brands across channels, retailers are faced with the challenge to create the same, or better, educational and entertaining experience within the brick-and-mortar store. Merchants can take cues from innovative brands, such as Burberry, who have upped the ante on creating a unique and coveted in-store experience, according to Spieckerman.

“The return to the physical store really is a ‘back to the future’ concept, and it is long overdue,” Spieckerman said. “In the consumer electronics space, there’s been a big focus on demos, and pushing sales and services in the store environment; I think shoppers are getting tired of that. Now there is a real opportunity for retailers to revisit event marketing, particularly where they can use localization to bring community flair to it.” For example, during the launch of its store in Beijing, Burberry held a digital fashion show, complete with holographic models. The event was shared virally online via YouTube and across store locations.

While best-in-class retailers have gone above and beyond to integrate new media and marketing tactics, Gaffney’s panel session provided an array of easy-to-deploy tips and tricks for mobile and social media. Mobile capabilities have provided shoppers with a landscape of information that is larger and more detailed, according to Boyd. To optimize mobile marketing, retailers must gather in-depth customer data, such as browsing and buying behaviors, to send relevant and timely offers.

“Determining helpful, useful content for shoppers is key,” Boyd said. “When you can tie in customer information such as past purchase decisions, when they like to shop and who they are demographically, that becomes really powerful. Offers then can be targeted at the point of purchase, which is the most important time to deliver that offer.”

Although mobile presents an opportunity for retailers to drive purchase activity and build connections with shoppers, personalization is key to improving one-on-one relationships, according to Spieckerman. However, retailers must plan thoroughly and test before finalizing a strategy. “Mobile is a slippery slope,” she said. “Mobile is a slippery slope,” she said. “Its personalization is so powerful that if a strategy is poorly planned, the effect is worse than if retailers didn’t utilize the channel at all.”

Tackling The Social Data Gap

Despite social media’s effect on increasing brand penetration, collecting efficient customer data is a top struggle for retailers, according to Flink. “It’s a very complex picture,” she said. “There is no single metric today that is adopted by every retailer to determine the impact of a social media page.”

Spieckerman added that during 2012, retailers will implement tools to mine and control data accurately across social networks. “Retailers are discussing the comments and reviews they get from Facebook and Twitter but they can’t necessarily put that data on an Excel spreadsheet and analyze it like they can with POS data,” she said. “In the next one to three years, as retailers increase their social media presence, they are going to be the keepers of the data. They will have the data that matters and the ability to mine and derive insight from it.”

Retailers also are encouraging store managers to amp up social media activities to increase local store traffic, according to Boyd. By “tweeting” about store events, sales and specials, retailers can boost in-store activity within low-performing areas. They also can develop a stronger retailer-to-shopper relationship.

“The purpose of this tactic is to exploit the physical location of a retailer’s store in a specific neighborhood to drive loyalty,” Boyd noted. “That personal, local relevancy is a key part of the messaging strategy.”

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