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Coffee with CART (5/28): The changing, expanding landscape of digital retail

E-commerce continues to evolve as an important part of retail. In a recent Coffee with CART webinar, Gary Hawkins and Schuyler Hawkins discuss the constantly evolving landscape of e-commerce and how it is changing the grocery industry. Specifically, the two discussed the importance of “connecting the dots” with all digital platforms to better understand your customers and their shopping behavior in your store. Gary and Schuyler covered two main topics: e-payment systems/metrics, the importance of mobile platforms.

E-payment: more than just an online POS system

E-payment, specifically mobile payment systems, are becoming more common in the retail space. Gary suggested that we’ll start to see stores integrating their rewards programs with a specific mobile payment solution, like PayPal and ApplePay.

While these mobile payment systems are a value-add to customers because of their convenience and user-friendly platforms, they’re also becoming essential to retailers because they provide valuable customer data. As Gary pointed out, one of the best perks of the increase in digital platforms in the retail space is the ability to connect the dots between online use and in-store shopping behavior.

However, retailers must remember to use the data provided by these digital platforms to gauge how customers use them. For example, at the very least retail stores should be regularly monitoring website analytics along with any data from other digital platforms used by the store. These should be used in comparison with customer behavior and sales numbers.

Many mobile payment companies are making it even easier to gather this data. For example, as PayPal branches out, splitting from eBay, they’re developing a new strategy as a full-service payments partner for consumers and merchants. PayPal’s new CEO, Dan Schulman, was quoted by Brandon Bailey in a recent NewsFactor article, saying:

“We want to be more than just a button on a merchant’s website,” Schulman said. “We really want to provide a full suite of services and products.”

The company plans to offer mobile transactions, credit purchases and even customer loyalty rewards programs. As the number smartphone users continue to grow, it is vital that retailers use these full-service payment systems to their advantage.

Mobile platforms (advertising, analytics, integration)

Mobile platforms should be a top priority for a retail store. Wendy Parish explained in a recent MarketingDive article that the increase in mobile phone access to the internet is actually not in place of desktop use like many believe. The increase is in addition to desktop use. This means that your store needs look for solutions that fit both desktop and mobile platforms. For example, making your website mobile-friendly is one of the most important things you can do for your store’s digital presence. All of your digital platforms should tie back to your website in some manner.

It’s also important to consider using mobile advertising. It’s becoming one of the most effective advertising channels. Kellogg’s recent Pop-Tart campaign shows just how effective it can be. They found that the campaign yielded “more than three dollars in incremental sales” for every dollar invested.

While many independent grocers aren’t at the same level as Kelloggs, that doesn’t mean you can’t venture into these digital spaces on a smaller scale that fits the size and scope of your store. Determining the platforms that work for you and evaluating the data provided by them will set you apart from your competitors.

Why do I work at AWG? “I like working for a company that supports local, often times family-owned, businesses in everything they do in order to help them succeed and stay competitive. It’s great to interact with the stores on a daily basis and learn about their story and the communities they serve.” -Melanie