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How To Plan For A Successful Retail Future
With more and more formally online-only brands opening up physical store locations, there is no question that brick-and-mortar retail remains incredibly valuable to the industry. At the same time, more traditional retailers are realizing that a dynamic web presence is essential to driving sales and traffic both online and in-store. To succeed in 2020, retailers need to find a way to balance both their brick-and-mortar and online strategies. It’s a symbiotic relationship between the two, with each one supporting the other and neither able to sustain themselves alone. By recalibrating their priorities and attention accordingly, retailers can better meet consumers’ needs and expectations.
Here are some key retail insights to keep in mind as you plan for 2020 and beyond:
Create A Seamless Omnichannel Experience
It’s true that online furniture sales now make up around 20% of the total industry revenue—making it one of the fastest growing ecommerce markets. But many of today’s consumers still want the option of being able to actually touch and feel the products before buying. Interestingly enough, this is especially true for younger shoppers. According to STORIS, “digital native generations are more likely to unplug and visit a store to discover new merchandise and make a purchase…However, because digital native generations are overstimulated, a lackluster retail experience will certainly fail to inspire. Brands must tell their holistic stories effectively, both in-store and online.”
For many customers of all ages, online research is step one of the shopping process—even when they plan to head into an actual store later. That means that, in this first phase, they expect your website to provide them with key product information and up-to-date inventory data. They should know exactly what the item looks like and whether or not it is available at their store of choice.
Whether you’re offering them a “Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store” option or giving them clear directions on where they can find the product in-store, it’s important to bridge that gap between the digital and physical. By making this transition as seamless as possible, retailers minimize the risk of shoppers abandoning their products before purchase.
At the very least, retailers must recognize that if someone can’t find you online—they definitely won’t be able to find you in real life. In addition to making sure your website is easy to navigate, double check that your Google My Business profile is up-to-date and optimized. Consumers shouldn’t have to search far and wide to figure out how to get to your store.
Recognize The Power Of Online Reviews
One big part of the product research process comes from online reviews. While many people do seek out expert advice and technical details, you can’t deny the power of peer insights. For skeptical shoppers, reviews offer a certain level of authenticity—even when they may take their words with a grain of salt. In fact, a lack of any reviews can be a huge red flag for many shoppers, dissuading them from even considering the product as an option. This has been a major hurdle for many traditional mattress sellers, many of whom do not sell online at all. Beyond simply losing out on digital sales, these retailers also miss out on the reviews as well—which, in turn, has an impact on in-store sales.
Rethink The Purpose Of A Physical Store
If a consumer can easily access product information, customer reviews and place an order all with a few taps of their finger—then what are they looking to get from a brick-and-mortar store? There’s no question that the role of the physical shop has changed in this environment and that different consumer demographics seek out the physical store experience for varying reasons.
Some brands have positioned their storefronts as simple places to try out the product before buying it online, such as Saatva’s new Manhattan showroom or many of Casper’s new locations. Others have transformed their stores into aesthetic experiences with creatively styled vignettes and regularly rotating product offerings. This approach offers consumers a location to visit to get inspiration for how they want to dress or decorate. Of course, not every consumer is looking to spend their precious free time hanging out in a store. Convenience is still a big draw for many of today’s busy shoppers. By optimizing the in-store pick-up process, chains like Target are reimagining their stores as easy access points for people on the go.
No matter what type of store you have, now is an important moment to take a step back and evaluate what value you can offer customers. Why would someone like you, or your Gen Z niece or your grandmother walk through the door? While you can’t be everything to everyone, determining a concrete approach with the goal of targeting one or more demographic in mind will make planning for the future much easier.
Offer A Personalized Shopping Experience
The biggest asset of the online retail world is its ability to offer a more personalized shopping experience. With individual accounts and strategic data collection, ecommerce sites can easily curate their offerings based on a customer’s previous behavior. As the omnichannel shopping approach continues to gain momentum among consumers, it’s necessary for retailers to figure out how to incorporate this level of personalization into their physical locations as well. A one-on-one conversation with a talented RSA will ideally reveal key specifications like style preferences and budget—but digital tools can help enhance these discussions even further. A robust Customer Experience Management platform can help keep all of this information in one place—making it easily accessible to any sales associate. And with new artificial intelligence technology, many of these digital tools can also help predict what types of products each customer may be interested in. By combining the personal experience of talking to a real human with the tech-savvy business intelligence tools, retailers can bring together the best of both worlds and better support their customers.
NEW PODCAST | A Brief Introduction To Artificial Intelligence
How Bedding Retailers Can Benefit From Using AI
Is Artificial Intelligence the future of retail? Many experts believe so. In this episode, Jennie Gilbert, COO of Retailer Web Services, joins us for a deep dive into the world of AI. Chatting with Elaina Hundley, Gilbert explains what exactly AI is - and offers a few tangible ways that retailers can incorporate it into their own business strategies.
Choosing Events To Help Boost Your Brand
Brought to you by ReST
With the bedding marketplace growing even more crowded in recent years, brands and retailers alike have been searching for new ways to reach potential customers—and, for many companies, special events and marketing partnerships have proven to be advantageous. By aligning your brand with a popular organization, a particular lifestyle or a meaningful cause, in-person marketing opportunities can help reinforce your messaging and introduce your brand to new consumers. But when it comes to selecting which partners to team up with, where do you start? What are the benefits of investing time, energy and money in an event to promote your brand?
For a company like ReST Performance—a smart mattress maker that utilizes high-tech customization to offer enhanced recovery—participation in events like IRONMAN help amplify the brand’s position as an innovative sleep solution for people with active lifestyles. It also gives ReST the opportunity to speak with athletes who may directly benefit from its smart bed.
For any company looking to pursue a new event or partnership opportunity, there are quite a few questions to ask yourself before narrowing your options:
What audience or customer profile would you most like to reach?
By first identifying the audience you’d like to connect your brand with, you will not only start to narrow your event options but get closer to the heart of what sort of messaging will best suit your efforts. When it comes to sleep products, it can be helpful to hone in on the health benefits you’re promoting and which demographics your products will support the most (Women? The elderly? Children? Athletes?)
If you own or operate a store that carries quite a few brands and products, it might make more sense to think about the neighborhood in which you are located. Do you want to generate more foot traffic from your neighbors? Reach nearby residents that might not pass your storefront regularly? Look into local events and neighborhood causes. In this case, your audience might be more characterized by proximity than demographic profile.
What lifestyle does your brand support or promote?
In the bedding and mattress industry, nearly every brand is promoting better sleep, and, as a result, better health and productivity. However, as the wellness category continues to explode, there are so many niches for the health conscious consumer to explore. To stand out from the crowd, it can be beneficial to zero in on a more specific angle.
Do you want to reach those consumers seeking better spinal alignment? Consider teaming up with a local chiropractor or consider health-related conferences. If you offer an array of natural sleep products, look into events that are geared towards organic or eco-friendly lifestyles. It’s important to think critically about the different angles and opportunities available and which ones truly align with your brand’s mission or products. While there is a lot of value in promoting yourself in unexpected places, it shouldn’t be difficult for the attendees to understand what you’re doing there.
What is your main goal for the event?
Finally, it’s important to think about what you want to come of participating in an event. Do you want to heighten brand awareness? In that case, you might want to host or sponsor an activity or experience at an event, something that really leaves an impression. This could be a game, it could be an educational seminar but whatever it is, it should be meaningful and align with your brand's message.
The other potential goal is actual sales. Do you want to be at an event where you can sell your products and convert customers? If that is the case, you’ll need to look for more vendor-driven events. When considering these opportunities, make sure to look closely at how the host is marketing the event. Will the attendees know in advance that products will be available for purchase? Depending on the logistics of the event, you may want to offer some smaller sleep accessories as well—the type of impulse purchases that can easily be carried out.
Sometimes a combination of the two works best. Depending on the logistics of the event, you might want to bring a selection of lightweight accessories to sell—the types of products that are not cumbersome and cost effective—while also offering a memorable or educational experience that will stick with attendees even after the event is over.
Whatever the case, the key to event participation and building brand awareness in general is to be consistent with your message. This means associating only with causes, ambassadors, events and ideals that fit with your brand and what you want it to communicate to potential customers.
Our Guide To The Las Vegas Market
The winter Las Vegas Market is right around the corner!
Start planning your market showroom visits today with the help of our Las Vegas Market Guide. This handy, mobile-friendly guide shows you where you will find the mattress and bedding manufacturers exhibiting at the World Market Center this winter.
Walking As A Wellness Activity
Easier on the body than running and other more intense physical activity, walking is a great way to be active, explore a new place, get some fresh air and mull over your thoughts. Apart from staying limber and getting you outside, there may be even more holistic wellness benefits to walking—like improvements in sleep as well as mental health. In recent years, quite a bit of research has been conducted that supports the notion that walking offers a low-cost, low-risk solution to some of the most commonly reported health and wellbeing problems.
Sleep And Walking
In October 2019, the journal of the National Sleep Foundation, Sleep Health published a study that tested whether or not walking positively impacted sleep. Participants from the greater Boston area were recruited to engage in a four-week walking intervention between October 2015 and August 2016. Comprised of 59 participants, the study’s group was 75% female with an average age of 49. The primary goal of the walking intervention was to increase each individual’s steps—measured by a Fitbit Zip—over a four week period.
The study ultimately found that daily active minutes were positively correlated with sleep quality but not duration. That meant that when participants increased their physical activity, even with the non-strenuous exercise of walking, they slept more deeply but not for an increased period of time. Interestingly, women saw the best results reporting that with increased activity they had improved sleep. Another notable outcome of the study was that one of the keys for having improved sleep following walking exercise was that the participants needed to do more exercise than normal.
So, because participants saw improvements in sleep when they did more exercise than normal, the study makes a case for incremental exercise. If you are already a regular walker, changing up and increasing your steps on a weekly or monthly basis could support improved sleep. And, if you aren’t already a regular walker, walking offers so many benefits without stressing the body too much. In addition to being a natural way to improve sleep quality, walking also offers other wellness benefits, including therapeutic benefits.
Walking Talking Therapy
Also referred to as movement therapy, walking talking therapy is a kind of counseling in which the counselor and client take a walk together and you guessed it, talk! Not only does this help anxious people connect with a new provider—anxious individuals can feel more comfortable not making eye contact especially when discussing personal matters and walking makes this easier—but it also gets the blood flowing. The idea of moving forward mentally can feel more tangible when you move forward physically. In this article from WebMD, a number of counselors weighed in on the value of walking and talking especially in the context of talk therapy:
“Licensed clinical social worker Carlton Kendrick, EdM, who is based in Cambridge, Mass. got his start using exercise and therapy when working with institutionalized and incarcerated patients in the early 1970s.‘When I got people walking on the grounds, listening to cows mooing and birds singing, having to avoid a rock in the road, engaged in a multi-sensory experience, the result was the patients were much more talkative and relaxed.’”
And he’s not the only one. Other clinicians in the article reinforced the fact that looking forward instead of directly into the eyes of a practitioner can help mental health patients have an easier time opening up. They also cited the fact that walks in picturesque outdoor places have a positive association with vacation and recreation, which can put people more at ease.
But you don’t have to be in therapy to walk for wellness. Walking can have mental health wellness rewards outside of work with a clinician (though walking should not replace the role of therapy or medication). Numerous studies have proven the link between light physical activity and more positive feelings. Exploring a study that looked at middle-aged, female Australians struggling with depression, this Scientific American article purports that regular walking can help ease low mood. While this 2018 study explored in a Bustle article showed “that people who exercised had 43 percent fewer self-reported ‘bad’ mental health days, compared to people who didn’t exercise at all. Though the biggest reduction in bad mental health days were seen for people who participated in team sports, cycling, and aerobic exercise, even people who walked found that their bad mental health days were reduced by over 10 percent.” These studies and others show just how simple it can be to improve your overall well being.
Ways To Bring More Walks Into Your Routine
Here we are over a week into the new year and you might have numerous health, wellness and fitness resolutions in mind for 2020. As you consolidate and solidify some of those goals, it’s important to start small and build up. Often resolutions fall flat if we aim too high or set unrealistic expectations for ourselves. Walking makes the perfect wellness activity because it costs nothing, is simple and offers so many priceless mental and physical health benefits.
As you stride into 2020, we’ve thought through some quick ideas for bringing more walks into your daily routine. And while it’s easier and maybe less ambitious than pushing yourself to join a gym or cut your favorite foods out of your diet, it’s still a solid and approachable way to start:
- Do you drive everywhere? If so, try to park farther away and walk.
- Use public transit or walk to work? Take the long way into the office or going home by literally walking a different route or walking to a public transit stop further away from your office.
- Build 15-30 minutes into your morning or evening routine to take a stroll around your neighborhood. If you have kids or a spouse, bring them along and use this time to debrief from your days.
- Instead of going to the movies or to dinner as a social activity, grab a buddy and some snacks and take a scenic walk.
- If the weather near you is getting you down, go to the mall—people walk there too.
- If you don’t feel like the mall offers a pretty enough stroll to motivate you or you feel like the only places you have to walk are boring, jazz up your walk by listening to a podcast or audiobook or by listening to new music. You’ll be racking up stories and steps before you know it!
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