Six Action Steps to Leverage Digital Influence


Sustainable retail growth depends on increasing same-store sales. Digital influence can help, but this requires a new approach to customer communications – one that provides a lot more than price and promotions and that delivers experiences that make shoppers want to engage and come back to the store.

Recent Brick Meets Click research found that the more digital connections there are between grocery retailers and shoppers, the higher their customer satisfaction is, and the more likely they are to use that retailer as their primary grocery store.

At Portland State University’s Executive Forum earlier this month, I presented these six action steps for retailers who want to tap the power of digital influence to increase same-store sales.

1. Learn how your customers are using digital and mobile devices. All this requires is a short online survey. The results may be surprising: Our latest study shows that about 80 percent of shoppers had received an email from a grocer in the 30 days prior to the interview.

2. Decide which digital influences will make it easier for your customers to shop your store. This could be email, website, texting, social media or mobile. The question is: What’s the best method to strengthen relationships with the customers who are most important to the growth of the business?

3. Decide how much digital influence you can afford to support. No retailer can do it all, and there’s a good chance that investment will be needed in POS and information even before getting to the cost of specific types of digital influence. Probably the most important thing to understand is the sales impact of each type of digital influence. This information should be available from solution providers.

4. Adopt a “test and learn” approach to improving performance. It’s never been more important to move quickly to innovate to improve the business, and the digital environment makes this a lot easier to do. The good news is that there’s plenty of guidance available on how to do this, and evidence that points the way on how to increase sales.

5. Get ready for online grocery shopping. More than one in 10 customers bought groceries online in the past 30 days, according to our latest research. By 2023, we forecast that online grocery shopping will represent between 7 and 17 percent of sales, depending on local market conditions. To avoid losing sales in this environment, find ways to retain these sales or offset them.

6. Join the conversation. Our study found that 25 percent of grocery shoppers actually “like” their grocer on Facebook. These are impressive numbers, but they’re driven mainly by the desire for coupons and promotions – and these aren’t unique or interesting enough to hold shoppers' attention for long. To give customers the kind of experience that will make them want to come back, it’s necessary to move beyond promotions to more engaging topics. 



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