How relevant are actual brick-and-mortar retail stores to online businesses? Well, at one time it was assumed that online businesses would usurp the need for physical shops, but that is no longer the common opinion.

While some recent data shows that retail revenues have, taken a nose dive, there is also proof that stand alone shops are expanding rather than receding. Online businesses have had an undeniable impact on retail; however, even with the success of online sales, even juggernauts like Amazon are adding physical locations to their retail arsenal. Their first store, a bookstore in Seattle Washington, was built with the hope that its presence could increase their market share. A move duplicated by startups like Warby Parker, Blue Nile, and Casper, seeking the same results.

So why are more businesses turning to this hit-em-from-both-sides strategy? Well, blame it on the current convenience market we exist in. One survey draws the conclusion that the success of these brick-and-mortar locations can be attributed to the value consumers still place on the ability to handle merchandise in person before buying. Eliminating shipping fees and wait times, along with consumer concerns over temperamental internet connections and speeds, are added bonuses. Also, these additions allow businesses to have a physical location that serves the double function of an inventory showroom plus a guide shop, assisting customers with their design aspirations.

Customers are looking for more than a point of purchase nowadays. Businesses willing to serve up a complete consumer experience will fare better in today's retail market. A storefront can also help legitimize a brand, as well as give the business the opportunity to create a customized, personal experience that will ultimately lead to increase in revenue. Companies like Warby Parker, with more than 20 stores nationwide, pride themselves on adopting this "clicks and bricks" retail model and are continuing to see great results.

Omnichannel marketing, the new frontier

While online shopping is at an all time high, consumers are far from breaking from the traditions of in-store shopping. What customers are in fact looking for is the best of both worlds, a shopping experience that includes the convenience of online and mobile options in conjunction with the tried and true showroom experience. This integrated approach, or omnichannel, allows consumers to first have the online browsing experience, known as "webrooming", and then follow up that experience with the ability to purchase in person.

Another area retailers are paying close attention to is on paid search listings. Whether traffic is being driven to a retailer's online or physical site, paid search is extremely instrumental in raising revenues. Big companies like Macy's and Nordstrom are spending big bucks on paid search listings, an estimated 6.4 million and 4 million respectively.

Because clicks go to the highest-placed search ads, a fact backed by digital analysis at L2 Inc., companies are willing to spend millions to be at the top. Fueling this race is the reduction of consumer access by aggressive ad blockers and web browser filters, like the this one soon to be used by CHROME, that retailers encounter daily. These online obstacles spell trouble for the retailer who is not successful at developing new, creative ways to competitively advertise to their customers in the mobile market.

Ad specificity determined by customer intent

There is concrete evidence that the influence mobile searching has on consumer purchasing power is significant. Nearly 30 percent of mobile searches are directly related to a location, and 76 percent of those searches result in a visit to that actual location within 24 hours of the mobile inquiry. As a result, product listing advertisements (PLAs) are beginning to dominate the mobile marketplace because they are reliable to retailers who seek to build a more customized advertising experience for consumers.

PLA platforms, like Google Shopping, offer an oasis of sorts to retailers looking to rise above the flood waters of a typical online experience. By focusing on the intent of the customer, retailers using these platforms get ahead of the game by targeting people who are actually in the market to buy. And as is the case with Google Shopping, no matter the product query criteria consumers are almost guaranteed to encounter a relevant ad.

An added bonus for using a PLA format is that retailers can focus their messaging on a specific consumer location. Search history and location play a large part in how businesses reach their customers with targeted advertising. For example, a google search for wireless speakers will yield targeted ads for wireless speakers the next time you log on. Additionally, after browsing from your cell phone for said speakers, don't be surprised when you start to see messaging from your local Best Buy wireless speaker sales and inventory. Also, expect these ads to be big and take up enough space to block out the competition. Paid search options are changing the game for retailers, and everyone from Google, to Amazon, to eBay, are playing.

Maximize your PLA and Mobile Advertising Campaigns

So now that your business is on board with using a platform like Google Shopping to advertise to consumers, how do you optimize your efforts? How do you ensure your marketing campaigns are effectively taking everything into consideration when deciding how to bid on keywords for your many products? When SKUs are high, this task can feel nearly impossible to accomplish. Platforms like QuanticMind offer an array of automated bidding solutions to help manage ads. The decision engine, which manages keyword bidding, and the publisher engine which checks item inventory before placing ad bids, are just a couple of ways this platform aims to streamline advertising productivity.

Getting the most performance out of your paid search and mobile marketing efforts will set businesses apart. Whether your brick-and-mortar store is driving traffic back to your site, or vice versa, the ability to engage with potential customers in a personal, purchase-specific way key to sustaining growth and increasing business revenue. Achieving this will guarantee your products connect with consumer browsing habits and your brand does not lost in crowd.

Published on: Aug 21, 2017