Challenges, Benefits and Importance of Digital Marketing in Retail

Posted on Jun 25, 2020

Successful companies in the retail arena have shown how digital marketing helps improve business performance. These retailers and many others are now aware that a well-planned and executed digital marketing strategy can be extremely rewarding. With online shopping increasingly gaining ground, the need for digital marketing in the retail industry has reached new heights. Let’s find out why.

Digital Marketing in Today’s Retail Industry
The Digital Marketing Trends in Retail
Key Challenges in the Retail Industry
Benefits and Importance of Digital Marketing in Retail
Implementation of Digital Marketing for Retail Business
Retail Digital Marketing Success Story of Zappos

Customer paying with Google Pay at a retail store

Digital Marketing in Today’s Retail Industry

Clothes retail manager showing digital tools to new employee

With the rapidly evolving technology in today’s age, one of the greatest mistakes retailers could make is ignoring digital marketing. To grow as a successful business and compete with larger organizations, brick-and-mortar retail companies must consider selling and marketing their products in the digital marketplace. Every year, customers visit online marketplaces more than physical ones and make greater purchases than ever before. That said, in order to thrive in this rapidly changing industry, contemporary retailers must incorporate digital marketing strategy into their business plan.

When it comes to retail, the link between marketing and revenue is undeniable. Every year, thousands of retailers globally miss out on business opportunities due to their absence on digital platforms. To prevent this, retail marketers must use digital marketing as a competitive tool. By using a mix of both offline and online channels in their marketing strategy, businesses are much more likely to find, attract, convert and retain their audience.

The Digital Marketing Trends in Retail

Although there are still many customers who visit physical stores, e-commerce sites are increasingly gaining popularity. Currently, more than 25% of the world’s population are online shoppers, 75% of which shop online at least once a month. If we consider the entire customer shopping journey, almost two-thirds (63%) of shopping journeys start online. This makes digital marketing a crucial factor in attracting customers through online mediums at the beginning of their buying journey.

The stiff competition between brands has forced many retail companies to focus on their online presence. Although online retail sales are comparatively less than in-store sales, the e-commerce market has substantially grown in the past few decades and is likely to continue doing so in the future. According to the latest sales report and forecasts by eMarketer, global e-commerce sales accounted for approximately 14% of all sales in 2019 and are estimated to rise to approximately 16% of all sales in 2020. It is important to note that these forecasted statistics certainly did not take into consideration the impact of the coronavirus in 2020. Based on the complete shift in buying patterns that took place in 2020, we can only assume that the number of online sales skyrocketed above the forecast.

Key Challenges in the Retail Industry

Mobile phone scanning local shops in virtual reality.

Technological advancement has handed great power to consumers. Today, with a plethora of purchasing options available, consumers can find and purchase products and services in ways that are much easier than ever before. The expansion of the retail market on a digital scale has made the industry much more competitive and challenging. Here are 3 elements that businesses must now consider.

New channels and devices

The availability of different selling channels like company websites, social media, online advertising as well as various consumer purchasing devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablets has intensified challenges for retail companies. In the past, customers only had one way to purchase – visiting physical stores in person. Now, there are dozens of ways to discover and purchase products or services. In fact, for the past few years, many online users prefer shopping online rather than visiting a physical store. To make the most of their potential, businesses must ensure that they are active and optimized on each of these channels and devices.

Customer expectations

With a wide variety of e-commerce platforms, modern customers expect retailers to have a seamless buying process that can be done from anywhere and at any time. If customers experience difficulties making their purchase, they are likely to be unsatisfied and turn to a competitor. To overcome these challenges, retail marketers must improve their customer journey to match client expectations.

More competitors

With global digital retailers appearing day in and day out, the competition has become fierce for businesses in the industry. Whereas in the past, companies may have only had a few competitors. Now, due to globalization, they most likely have hundreds, if not thousands of competitors. To improve their competitive edge, marketers need to use digital marketing techniques to offer the best value to customers.

Benefits and Importance of Digital Marketing in Retail

Customer using phone to search online reviews of product before purchase

Digital marketing has changed the perspective of modern consumers. Today, no business can fully flourish and stay ahead of the competition without a proper digital marketing strategy. A well-planned digital marketing strategy influences the overall performance of retail businesses in many ways. Here are a few key benefits.

Enhance customer experience

Retailers, irrespective of their size need to invest in digital marketing to ensure the best possible user experience for buyers. User experience involves everything from the pre-purchase experience to the post-purchase experience. Every interaction that customers have with the brand should be pleasant and seamless to maximize convenience and efficiency for the consumer.

Leverage new opportunities

The advancement of technology has given retail marketers many opportunities that were not available in the past. Companies can now attract leads beyond geographical boundaries, reduce their marketing cost, provide improved support services and much more. Retailers need to take full advantage of these to maximize their potential.

Improve brand metrics

Having a strong brand helps retail businesses differentiate themselves from competitors. Digital marketing can allow a company to improve the knowledge and perception customers have about a brand by investing in brand awareness, brand reputation, brand image and more.

Enhance acquisition, conversion and retention rates

Retailers can use other digital platforms to reach prospects and clients at the right time, at the right place and in the right way to increase client acquisitions, conversions and retention. Businesses are able to interact and engage with clients in a personalized manner to encourage purchase.

Help overcome competition

Digital marketing allows small and medium-sized retailers to tackle stiff competition even with limited resources. Small budget retail marketers can conveniently promote their brand globally and reach consumers across the nation with ease.

Retailer posting details of a product on their website with a tablet while holding a box

Implementation of Digital Marketing for Retail Business

Digital marketing can be a boon to modern-day retailers. However, before retailers can reap these benefits, they must first implement proper digital marketing tactics. Here are a few of the most useful digital activities retail businesses can concentrate on to promote their products:

  • Website design & development: Having a strong website customized for the target audience improves customer experience and satisfaction for all prospective and current customers.
  • Search engine marketing: Ranking on search engines for relevant keywords allows customers to find the retail business they are looking for with ease.
  • Content marketing: To attract new customers and retain existing ones, retailers should focus on publishing valuable written and visual content. 
  • Email marketing: Retail businesses should send prospective and current customers emails, including product offers and important messages that are of interest to them.
  • Social media marketing: Retailers should identify the platforms that their audience frequents the most and use these to attract and retain customers.

Retail Digital Marketing Success Story of Zappos

Zappos, an American online shoe and apparel shop, is one such retail brand that has achieved success with its digital marketing strategy. They have been featured on many blogs and are often used as a case study for the company’s exemplary use of digital marketing. They succeeded by investing heavily in online marketing, specifically social media campaigns and video marketing. A decade after being founded, the organization was sold to Amazon for over 1 billion dollars. A big factor behind Zappos’ retail success was due to its efforts in digital marketing. It is only one of many businesses that benefited from an effective digital marketing strategy.

Zappos logo. A retail company that transformed the digital customer experience

Final Thoughts

There are huge opportunities for retailers who decided to optimize their business plan with proper digital marketing strategies. However, to attain success and flourish in this competitive business, retailers should consider taking help from experts in the field. A professional digital marketing agency not only helps connect with the interested buyers and drive sales but also improves brand awareness globally. To reap the rewards and move in the right direction, it is a great idea for retailers to avail of the services of a marketing agency.

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