Where's My Digital Circular?
While consumer demand for good old-fashioned paper circulars remains high, 70 percent of respondents to a recent Nielsen Group study want deals delivered digitally. One third of respondents say smart phone apps and social media sites are their preferred way to receive savings offers.
Certain savvy stores already are taking heed and using digital circulars and mobile apps to draw buyers to their brick-and-mortar locations and push up sales. Yet such efforts are only the first steps toward taking full advantage of a data-driven future.
Consumers: “Web me!”
The Nielsen Group surveyed 11,000 consumers to learn what the future holds for a time-tested retail technique: the advertising circular. They found a world in transition. For example:
- Ninety percent of retail shoppers still rely on printed circulars. But 70 percent want deals displayed on company websites and delivered via email.
- Only 20 percent of shoppers at grocery and drug retailers visit company websites. But such consumers spend around 30 percent more when they reach the store.
The message is clear: Retailers that want to expand sales and win over the next generation of customers have no choice but to embrace digital circulars and similar technologies. The pressure will only grow as consumers come to rely more and more on mobile devices and the Web, regardless of whether they are shopping in stores or online.
Walgreens: A Digital Trendsetter
Walgreens provides an excellent example of how a retailer can take advantage of technology to grow its business. The drug store’s new digital circular provides consumers with coupons and offers through both mobile apps and the Walgreens website. Consumers can share offers through Twitter and Facebook, spreading the word about deals at Walgreens stores.
In addition, new mobile coupons enable shoppers to scan purchases directly at the point of sale. Pharmacy customers can use a new mobile scanning app to order refills just by scanning a barcode. They can also sign up for mobile text alerts that tell them when medications are due to be refilled or picked up.
Looking to the Future
But digital circulars and mobile applications are only a start. Retailers stand to gain great boons by integrating new uses of technologies at every level of their operations:
- Big data. Today it is possible to amass unprecedented amounts of raw data on shoppers’ habits and countless other topics. Investing in the capacity to analyze such large data sets can give retailers a whole new level of insight into their businesses.
- Data-driven decision making. More and more businesses are making an effort to base decisions at every level on solid, actionable data. Carefully tailored automated systems can help make sure the right data finds its way into the right hands at the right time.
- Individualized marketing. Right now, many retailers’online ads are still just versions of their print advertisements. They have the opportunity to move away from this model and provide individual shoppers with digital offers tailored to their own interests and buying patterns.
No matter what they sell, most retailers have barely begun to tap the possibilities that new technologies have to offer. To grow in years to come, they need to adopt a more aggressive strategy and make the right investments today.