As COVID-19 abates in the United States, with vaccination rates rising and the CDC easing up its masking guidance, many consumers are eager to return to favorite pre-pandemic activities, including shopping in stores. However, brick-and-mortar retailers have an uphill climb ahead of them as pandemic lockdowns led to a meteoric rise in the (already increasing) popularity of online shopping. Digital Commerce 360 reports that consumers spent $861.12 billion online with US retailers in 2020, a 44 percent increase from the year before. And although shoppers are beginning to venture back inside their favorite stores, many will have changed their consumer behaviors for good. In fact, McKinsey has found that 75 percent of consumers who used digital channels for the first time during the pandemic plan to continue to use them when things return to “normal.”
So, how can franchise and multi-location retailers encourage a return to in-store shopping? The key will be to create an in-store experience that offers value shoppers can’t find online. One of the most powerful tools for creating that value is the point-of-sale (POS) / point-of-purchase (POP) materials such as product displays, shelf-talkers, and in-store signage that creates a vibrant, unique, and sensory customer experience that can’t be replicated on a screen.
Following these three steps, retailers can use POS / POP marketing to create in-store shopping experiences that will drive customers away from their devices and back into stores.
1. Develop Clear Marketing Goals
While the ultimate goal is to persuade customers to make a purchase, one of the unique draws of in-store shopping as opposed to online is that it can become a much broader experience. While online shoppers are often focused on homing in on the products they came for, with tight search parameters and plenty of filters to weed out distractions, in-store shoppers are likely to be open-minded to products they hadn’t considered — all those things they didn’t know they needed. After all, research says six in ten in-store purchases are impulse buys.
So as you develop your in-store marketing goals, consider four potential goals for your marketing materials:
- Engage shoppers by introducing them to new products, recommending products that go together, and offering surprising experiences that surprise and delight.
- Inform shoppers about all the ways your products can help them achieve their goals and solve their problems — not to mention the exciting new features that make it possible.
- Allow shoppers to interact with products in a physical way that’s not possible online. This could be smelling perfume samples, taste-testing food or beverage products, or sitting on furniture to make sure it’s comfortable.
- Persuade shoppers to make the purchase by offering coupons and incentives or simply showing them the benefits of owning the product.
Each POS / POP marketing piece should be created with one of these goals in mind, and in combination, they should serve to drive customers all the way through the funnel to purchase what they came in for — and maybe something else while they’re at it.
2. Understand the Customer
Any effective marketing campaign is created with the customer’s preferences, needs, and desires in mind, and that goes for the in-store experience, too. From enticing customers to come into the store (ideally through multichannel marketing campaigns that take advantage of all available touchpoints to invite them in) to greeting them with welcoming directional signage and promotional headlines in the parking lot to guiding their shopping experience with in-store displays and closing the deal, the customer’s needs must come first.
So, as you’re crafting the messaging and designing the materials, consider what the customer needs to see, both before and during the shopping trip, to get them excited about an in-store experience. Online shopping is undoubtedly convenient, so how will they benefit from coming into the store? Special in-person discounts or add-ons? Opportunities to try before you buy? And once they’re in the store, how will your products add value to their lives? (Remember, the specifics of the cutting-edge features may not be as enticing to customers as what they can achieve with the product.)
3. Develop Eye-Catching POS Materials for a Unique In-Store Experience
One you’ve established your goals and done a deep dive into what kinds of messaging, experiences, and offers your customers will find most compelling, it’s time to start designing and producing your in-store marketing materials. We wrote extensively about what it takes to create effective POP materials in a recent blog post, but here are the highlights:
- Create products that are appropriate to your location. Do local ordinances dictate what signage you’re allowed to set up outside? Are you in an industry, such as adult beverages, with state-by-state regulations around advertising? Does your national retail brand have some stores that are large and spacious (and thus perfect for elaborate floor displays) and others with smaller footprints that require more compact advertising? Consider the needs of your location in order to ensure your materials are assets rather than liabilities, and that they can enjoy prime placement right in shoppers’ paths.
- Balance quality and cost. You’ll want to ensure your materials are created with durability and longevity in mind, so they showcase your offerings in their best light for as long as you need them to. But at the same time, these marketing initiatives can’t cost more than they bring in. Consider material selection, manufacturing techniques, and design complexity to ensure you’re getting the most for your money.
- Design can’t-miss displays. Follow design best practices for shape, color, and messaging to ensure your materials are eye-catching from the get-go. But beyond that, get creative with placement to engage customers. For example, adding a cash-wrap will encourage those last-minute impulse buys, and suggesting fun and creative pairings (a sprinkles display next to the ice cream freezer; a cocktail recipe posted on the vodka shelf) will inspire buyers to take advantage of cross-sell and upsell opportunities they might not have thought of on their own.
As consumers emerge from their pandemic isolation, they’ll be balancing their desire to resume pre-pandemic activities with the newfound convenience of digital interactions. Savvy retailers will leverage in-store marketing — from product displays to floor stickers to shelf talkers to novelty packaging and beyond — to remind their audiences how powerful the experience of in-store shopping can be.
OneTouchPoint helps companies maximize these experiences by creating effective consumer engagements at every touchpoint, culminating in powerful in-store marketing displays that increase both brand awareness and revenue. With our recent acquisition of Insight Resource Group, a full-service Point of Sale/Display agency headquartered in Lafayette, California, we’re proud to add physical, in-store Point of Sales and experiential solutions to our ability to offer seamless online and offline brand and customer experiences.
We invite you to learn more about these capabilities and the other ways OneTouchPoint helps businesses power brand engagement. Then, when you’re ready, we invite you to request a quote on your next project. Our experts will provide insight and ideas to deliver phenomenal results at a great price.