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Path to Purchase Expo: A Recap

There’s nothing broader and more convoluted than a consumer’s path to purchase right now. Trying to influence and measure it is complex and changing quickly as brands and retailers try new technology and innovative marketing campaigns. Some of the biggest retailers in the world are setting precedent for consumer expectations and those who are afraid to take risks are falling behind. At the Path to Purchase Expo, the usual topics of technology, data, and personalization were all talked about. But, as brands and retailers catch up with one another in those areas, those standing out are realizing that technology won’t save them, digital isn’t the end-all-be-all, and now that these other components are table stakes, differentiation is reached through deeper purpose. Technology Will Not Save You Setting the tone for the conference, Alyssa Raine from Walgreens reminded everyone that while we’re exploring the best technological advances to meet consumer needs, the tech alone won’t resonate without some tie into empathy for a consumer’s own experience. Whether training teammates to be beauty consultants with expertise in serving cancer patients or using…

Ignite – An ecommerce Conference Recap

As brands and retail organizations continue to evolve how they think about ecommerce, the sharing of ideas on how to address this evolution is more relevant than ever. At a recent conference, Ignite – The ecommerce Leadership Conference, industry leaders from across retail joined to learn ways to think differently and continue to challenge the way business has always been done. Informative, collaborative, and thought-provoking, this day-long conference powered by Syndigo left me with a few key takeaways.  Discomfort Drives Innovation Sterling Hawkins of the Center for Advancing Retail Technology kicked off the morning with a keynote expanding on the opportunity that comes with innovation and the mindset needed to embrace it. He challenged those in attendance to embrace the discomfort that comes with the unknown rather than avoiding what could be seen as dangerous if undertaken without success. I found particularly interesting how our body responds to embracing stress and discomfort. Hawkins said when we are under stress and embrace it, our brain makes new connections, allowing us to get through the discomfort. This opportunity for exponential growth that…

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Evergreen Content is Key

There’s a lot going on in a grocery store. There are thousands of products to advertise, both new and old, specialty and every-day. There are service offerings like fresh butchers, floral arrangers, and gift cards. There are programs like online shopping or email newsletters. All of these components compete for both consumer and retailer attention. As a retailer, it sometimes gets old to talk about the same things over and over again. But, while all of these features of stores are standard for those working in the store, it’s important to remind consumers of the products, services, and programs that help define the value the store provides to them. Define Value If you ask independent grocery retailers what value they provide to consumers, the answers align around the same core features: product variety, customer service, and right price.  Others that play a factor are convenience and community involvement. No one wants to slack on any of those. Yet, if everyone in the market is using all of them as their value proposition to consumers, its good to help define what…

Retail Innovation Conferece Recap

There’s one thing that’s for sure about retail today: it’s changing. There’s a debate to be had about how and to what capacity this change is happening and it certainly impacts different industries differently but what’s not debatable is that brands and retailers are frantically trying to keep up. This past week, I attended the Retail Innovations Conference to see what brands in all industries are doing to try and keep up with the evolution. Two days of content are hard to distill down to a short recap but here were the themes I saw emerge.   Not Your Old Loyalty ProgramsIn the age of data, loyalty programs are not only still alive and kicking, they’re going strong and evolving to fit the needs of retailers striving for meaningful connections with consumers. Shinola talked about how they reconsidered their program with their brand promise in mind. Macy’s Style Crew re-envisioned a program inclusive of consumer viewpoint and a new reward attainment structure. Personalization for Born shoes is driven by consistent acquisition of consumer online activity behavior data. Hershey’s hasn’t ever collected…

Possibility in Perishables

While online grocery shopping continues to gain steam, a mysterious and myth-riddled sector of the store often gets talked around. Perishables is the most under-penetrated category in online grocery shopping. So how do retailers help customers feel comfortable shopping this important category online? Recently, at the Home Delivery World Conference in Philadelphia, I hosted a panel of industry experts in this area. The panel consisted of Duane Snyder of Seasonal Roots, Ben Chesler of Imperfect Produce, & Mike Demko of locai solutions. We talked through how to attract customers to the perishable category, how to deliver what customers are expecting, and how to gain confidence and repeat purchases. Tempt TrialSome customers are hesitant to try online shopping for their entire grocery basket. While online grocery continues to grow, customers sometimes need a little nudge to try the service. A popular statistic in the space says that customers don’t become an “online customer” until they have tried the service three times. That means you need to get them to try it. Some will based just on word of mouth. Some need…

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Shoptalk 2019

Overwhelming or energizing. Four days in Las Vegas at Shoptalk could elicit either one of those feelings depending on your perspective. For me, it’s a healthy mix of both because the overwhelming part demands focus and introspection into the practicalities of applying everything I just tried to absorb from the biggest and best in retail. The energizing part comes in seeing how we, and the industry, respond to all this great information. Brick & Mortar isn’t dead. But it is changing. Historically, grocery stores were designed to meet the needs of walk-in customers. Instacart’s Chief Business Officer Nilam Ganenthiran talked though about how that may need to change in the future. Rather, owners should consider designing expedite e-commerce fulfillment. Crate & Barrel CEO Neela Montgomery talked about enhancing their stores with in-store dining options. Helena Foulkes, CEO of Hudson’s Bay Company, showed before and after pictures of Saks Fifth Avenue store completely redesigned to have natural light by the makeup counter, easier access to the second floor for efficiency, and expansion of handbag category. All of these retailers are responding…

Time to Get Strategic

Let’s just all admit it: Marketing in 2019 is hard. While there are multiple programs and strategies and ways to spend money reaching out to consumers, the way we talk about marketing doesn’t make it any easier. We have traditional and digital, marketing and advertising, data and insights. It’s all just a big jumble of everyone trying to understand what is going to work and what isn’t and none of us have a crystal ball. Now that we’ve all had our moment to vent, what do we do about it? The only answer is to start with the basics and focus on a strategy. The tricky part about that proposal? Having a strategy. Let’s think through were to start. No marketer worth her weight starts to build a strategy without doing some research. That means understanding where the brand is currently, what it means to consumers, what you WANT it to mean to consumers, and what avenues are in place currently to help connect those ideals. Sometimes, this means doing research; sending out consumer surveys or talking to consumers in…

The Practicality of an Idea

If you’re like me, I get a lot of sales pitches about new products and services. It’s hard to understand which one to grab onto and which ones to push to the back burner for now. While I always do at least some cursory investigation into new opportunities, there’s no way to do everything. All of this can be overwhelming if you don’t have a way to narrow down where you should focus. At Groceryshop back in October, Wayne Duan, VP of eCommerce for Constellation Brands provided a good way to think about any business opportunity. Below are the questions to ask about this opportunity and my two cents on how I think of these when working with retailers. Does it Solve a problem? This seems like an obvious question but it’s amazing to me how many people decide to dive fully into implementing a program without thinking about whether a problem exists that needs to be addressed. Is it better than the Status quo? While we’re always wanting to push the needle and continue to evolve, sometimes it’s good…

Making Marketing Data Work

Big data. Little data. Shopper data. Transaction data. Data. Data. Data. By now someone has said you need data. The trick is knowing what kind of data you need and what you should do with the data once you have it. Knowing many independent retailers have these questions in mind, I attended the Kansas City Direct Marketing Association presentation recently from Blake Hodges of Alight Analytics. Hodges had some important reminders for those of us trying to figure out how to solve the two part data problem: aggregation and reporting. Fundamentally, before aggregating and reporting on data, you have to have it. Data comes from all different places. You likely keep track of some of this data but maybe not all and potentially not in a way that helps you make future decisions. According to Hodges most of us spend around 80% of our time prepping data but only around 20% analyzing it. This insight really calls into question the whole reason we have data. To address this imbalance, Hodges broke down four levels of performance insight from data and…

We’re Hiring!

The AWG Sales Services team has two openings, a Sr. Creative Specialist and a Digital Marketing Specialist. If you are looking to join a fast-paced team full of opportunity, we’re your place. To apply for either of these jobs, click here and enter the job title in the search bar to navigate directly to the respective opening. Sr. Creative Specialist The Creative Specialist is one of the hubs of marketing/advertising for all AWG retailers. This position will be heavy on design work that will come in large full-store branding projects to small-scale projects like single signs, shelf signage, and quick turn-around social posts. Will work closely with advertising supervisor to develop branding for retailers — sometimes from scratch, other times to build upon what already exists. Internal work will also be an essential part of the Creative Specialist position with several large and ongoing projects and on-needed basis. Those projects include the annual report, quarterly retailer-focused magazine and trade ads. Design of advertising/marketing promotional material for the department will also be asked. The Creative Specialist is also charged with working…