Get ready for the year of digital transformation.
As we bid adieu to 2022 and shift focus to the new year, there’s one thing we can say for certain: 2023 is the year that brick-and-mortar retailers will embrace digital technology to stay competitive and to attract — and retain — loyal customers.
Many independent retailers don’t realize that they have more advantages than they think. While continued inflation and evolving customer habits will still add challenges to the industry, the combination of loyal customers, a nimble operating structure and physical stores give them a leg up against the competition — they just need to embrace the future.
And that future is technology.
As we look to the coming 12 months, there are four near-certain predictions we can offer that will equal success for retailers in the new year.
#1: Strong Digital Strategies Will Phase Out Delivery Fees
Escalating costs and continued supply chain issues won’t diminish with the changing of the calendar. Customers will address rising costs by completing their purchases in-store after leveraging digital resources, like a mobile app, to research and plan their shopping trips. In fact, a staggering 90% of shoppers prefer to end their shopping journey in brick-and-mortar locations to economize and eliminate extra costs, especially the pricey fees of third-party delivery services.
Brick-and-mortar retailers have an opportunity to capture the growing number of customers who are opting against escalating delivery costs by bridging the online-to-in-store experience with a strong digital media strategy. All they need is a user-friendly mobile app, compelling loyalty incentives and a robust commerce media program.
Which brings us to …
#2: Commerce Media Will Reach New Heights
The depth of data — and dollars — that commerce media can bring to independent retailers cannot be overlooked. As they build their retail media platform and strengthen their customer relationships through targeted content and personalized deals, the ability to identify what’s working, and what’s not, will be key to their continued growth and success. We predict that smarter planning around commerce media solutions will be at the top of retailers’ to-do lists and will be a key differentiator between those that thrive in the new year and those that don’t.
To ensure that a commerce media strategy is successful, the ability to attribute and track every ad, click and purchase must be a top priority. When supported by a thoughtfully executed retail media program, retailers can use the omnichannel tools that they have in place to inform where they spend their ad dollars, the brands that they partner with and how to best help customers save.
#3. Industry Consolidation Will Motivate Retailers
The potential merger of Kroger and Albertsons is looming large over the industry, with the combined enterprises able to bring better digital capabilities and greater supplier power. For independent retailers, this means that they’ll have to work that much harder to compete for their fair share of trade and retail media dollars.
Time will be of the essence for brick-and-mortar retailers that will need to move quickly to capture ownership of their digital customer before the merger is complete. Once the ripple effect starts, independent grocers will find it harder than ever to catch up.
Capturing first-party data now, through an owned digital strategy, will be essential for retailers to leverage their unique positioning advantage, capturing customer loyalty, actionable analytics and revenue that can be reinvested into the business.
#4: Retailers Delivering a Connected Shopping Experience Will Get the Competitive Edge
Shoppers depend on their smartphones more than ever, and mobile apps and retailer websites are their chosen resources for comparing prices, finding deals and saving money. The ability for an independent retailer to highlight its value versus that offered by retail and e-commerce giants is going to be more important than ever in its efforts to keep its customers happy.
The easiest way to do this is to offer a seamless, connected experience that speaks to shoppers on a personalized level. An omnichannel strategy that spans the online and in-store customer experience — from mobile app to loyalty program to the actual point of purchase — guarantees that every step of their journey centers on a retailer’s store.
Start the New Year Right
If we’ve learned anything from the past year, it’s that our industry —and customer habits — will continue to evolve, but the need for retailers to build their digital presence remains unchanged. Choosing the right technology partner will ensure that independent retailers make 2023 successful for their customers and profitable for their business … all they need to do is make the call.