BrainTrust Query: The Great Digital Disconnect
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Mark Heckman Consulting blog.
Digital content and especially digital coupons have been a disappointment to many retailers in their immediate impact to the business. While shoppers are increasingly pre-shopping online, loading coupons and building shopping lists prior to their journey into the world of bricks and mortar, their activities still remain on the periphery of most retailers’ mainstream focus. This is particularly true in the grocery channel.
Some of the barriers I see preventing digital content from truly joining the shopper experience include:
Lack of Technology Integration In-store: Shoppers aren’t able to actually use their mobile device in-store to aid in the experience. Mobile payment capabilities, while catching on, are still not ubiquitous to the point of becoming mainstream for the shopper or the retailer.
Competing Value Propositions: While digital content is considered slick and most retailers believe it is the communication media of the future, paper coupons, weekly circulars, and other traditional promotions still drive the vast majority of sales and the quick return on investment that brands and retailers must have to run their business.
Dearth of Digital Content: This is the biggest void. Clearly many retailers and manufacturers are dipping their toes in the water, but digital offers and information continue to be under-nourished, which is especially damning if the brand and retailer want to design this content so that it is meaningful to the shopper. Hundreds of digital offers covering some of the highest household penetration categories need to populate the offer bank, not just the few dozen that is the norm today — mostly contain high margin, low penetration categories.
Digital content has been wrongly positioned (in my humble opinion) as a series of standalone events and content that often has no connection to the mainstream value proposition of the retailer.
An opportunity exists to gain acceptance and reach a degree of critical mass with digital content if two things happen. First, the digital content is directly linked or layered to existing value elements of the retailer. Digital deals can be positioned as bonus savings on end cap items in the store, front-page items in the circular, or even targeted offers that are in direct mail or email communications.
Second, evidence of these digital offerings must be visible inside the store — signs with QR codes to connect with content; references to how to load digital content to the shopper’s account while they shop in the store.
When these conditions are met, shoppers will embrace the offers and engage with digital content programs at a much higher level. Consequently, brands will be more likely to spend their trade or shopper marketing dollars with the retailer who can deliver a more holistic digital approach. Then the fun begins.
What barriers do you see hampering the use of digital coupons and content as part of the shopping experience in the grocery channel? What steps should grocers take to drive the use of digital content?