Feet to Stores & Fingers to Clicks: Making Sense of the Modern Retail Experience

Is brick and mortar retail faltering or booming? If you’re following media trends and analyst predictions, it’s hard to know if retail is on its last legs or in the midst of an economic renaissance. The fact is, both statements are true. Confused? Many retailers are shutting doors as e-Tail disrupts the traditional model, and everyone is searching for innovation, service improvements and other ways to separate themselves from the sea of sameness.

For a communicator, now is an ideal time to engage retail brands to help drive feet to stores and fingers to clicks. As I take the helm as new leader of Ketchum’s Retail group, these five foundational themes will be top-of-mind when it comes to developing well-planned and thoughtful communications in the year ahead.

Create the Experience:
All shoppers crave an experience. The desire to be treated well, served efficiently and valued is paramount to a retail brand consumer. This service expectation can be when you are shopping for tires, ordering a book, seeing a doctor after hours, or buying a gallon of milk on your way home for work. Regardless if online or offline, the customer experience is critical to making your mark. Ask yourself: How can you transform your retail experience from transactional to experiential?

Separate from the Pack:
Price or legacy no longer win the day. Innovation, distinct offerings, purpose, and convenience are staples to successful retail brands today. Differentiate or die. Ask yourself: Do you rely too much on legacy brand equity to drive current sales? If that equity was gone tomorrow, would your existing consumers seek out the competition?

Walk the Talk:
What a brand stands for and how it reacts to societal issues will determine a customer’s loyalty like never before. A retail brand is front and center to most consumers throughout the day and both direct and indirect reputation flash points must be recognized and dealt with proactively in order to retain consumer trust. Ask yourself: Is reputation management top-of-mind within your brand’s C-suite? If a public or corporate crisis takes shape, do you have an action plan in place to respond?

Know your Target:
No longer can brands rely solely on a mass push to the public, nor throw a single dart toward an isolated cohort such as millennials or boomers. Today, retail brands who define their unique target audience and find the right way to speak to them along the path to purchase will gain loyalty and followers. Ask yourself: Do you understand what influences (and influencers) inspire your target market to purchase? Is there a partnership to explore?

Define your Purpose:
Being true to what you stand for and how you give back is a game changer in retail. Those brands who walk the talk and consistently focus on “human” engagement are no longer an exception to the norm. Purpose is an integral driver to customer and employee loyalty and growth. Ask yourself: What causes are most authentic to your brand? What causes are at the core of your consumers’ hearts? Where do the two lines intersect?

The retail world is confusing, but the good news is that there is a path to success for every brand. Interested in developing a communications strategy to navigate the sea of sameness and drive feet to stores and fingers to clicks? Connect with me!

Ketchum clients have trusted this communications leader for strategic and creative counsel since 2004 when he joined Ketchum. Today, as partner, managing director and portfolio leader, Peters leverages his 27 years of public relations experience in the ever-evolving retail sector by working with client teams to drive feet to store (brick and mortar) and clicks to sites (e-tail). Engagement ranging from product and brand launches, media relations, franchisee & employee engagement, store openings, corporate reputation & crisis management and path-to-purchase messaging.

Peters is a retail expert, having collaborated on projects in grocery, food service and dining, QSR, general merchandise stores, convenience and gas stations, home improvement, health and personal care, electronics and e-commerce.

Peters is a self-acclaimed barbeque connoisseur and chef. He and his wife do their best to raise their teens in Dallas, along with a wily five-year-old Catahoula hound dog.