The pandemic-led sudden growth of eCommerce and widespread lockdown brought intense competition for brick-and-mortar stores. Physical retail has been severely threatened over the last few years, but as the world finally opens up, there may be some respite for store owners.
The good news is that despite the preference for online shopping, 55% of buyers still advocate for traditional stores because that's where they get to interact with products directly.
So, as social distancing restrictions are lifted, it's time to use exciting new retail marketing strategies to empower your traditional retail practices.
Your prospective buyers appreciate that your brick-and-mortar store can offer what eCommerce giants can't: instant gratification in the form of immediate purchases, no shipping costs, and no costly returns because they've tried or experienced the product before buying.
So, why not take advantage of demo scheduling software to consistently generate customer demand and optimize inventory turnover? This can be your secret to delivering the ultimate retail customer experience.
Let's explore this retail marketing strategy in further detail.
Taking Advantage Of The Shift In The Retail Marketing Paradigm
Retail marketing can surely help your business expand its reach, connect with customers, nurture long-term relationships and share your brand story. Not only this, but retail marketing also creates a competitive edge, keeping your business one step ahead of its rivals.
Modern retailers need to keep an eye on different channels, tactics, and activities that bring visitors to the store.
Use Demo Scheduling Software To Delight Your Store Visitors & Customers
For obvious reasons, in-store demos have become an integral part of retail marketing strategy. Retailers need reliable and hassle-free demo scheduling software that delivers cost-saving without compromising their retail customer experience.
It is not just an occasional promotional event to sell the dead inventory; it's the best way to introduce your customers to new products and record sales. It's a building block responsible for growing relationships between customers, vendors, and retailers.
In a nutshell, demo scheduling software helps with:
Embrace In-Store Sampling To Boost Your Brand Reach
Retailers have discovered the power of in-store sampling as an experiential marketing strategy. According to Win Sight Grocery Business, it's among the most potent experiential marketing tactics, recording a 475% increase in sales. Its when the customer is given a free sample of the product, which is an opportunity to try it.
Another study stated that in-store food sampling converted browsers into buyers with a 20% increase than the customers who didn't sample the product. It also revealed that the conversion rate for personal care and beauty products is 30% higher with the in-store sampling tactic.
Ready To Reinvent And Redefine Your Retail Customer Experience?
Promotional scheduling outlines the specifics of the marketing initiatives your retail store will take part in for the entire year. It ensures that the store staff, managers, and marketers are always on the same page while eliminating missed deadlines or forgotten ideas for good.
The retail industry has become hyper-competitive. Hence to improve the impact of its promotions, it's essential to create a promotion scheduling model designed to deliver enhanced ROI. According to research, an efficient promotion calendar showed a 4% uptick in-store revenues and a 14% increase in ROI.
The modern retail marketing strategy isn't restricted to the 4Ps of marketing; instead, it focuses on delivering the ultimate customer experience to keep those visitors coming. Demo scheduling software, in-store sampling, and promotional scheduling can help you win the retail sales game while delighting and engaging your customers better than ever before.
There is a widespread belief that in-store demos only benefit vendors. However, the truth is that they offer even more numerous benefits for retailers. The well designed in-store demo strategy will bring customers back to your store over and over again, and keep them engaged with the brands you offer, which are not being promoted at the demo time. Let’s look at some reasons why vendors retailers should initiate host in-store demos.
Why Retailers Should Host In-Store Demos
In-store demos offer many benefits for vendors such as creating brand awareness, boosting sales, and increasing long-term purchasing habits. However, they also offer many benefits for retailers. Some reasons why stores should initiate in-store demos include:
It’s no secret that in-store demos can make a retail store more popular. Customers are more likely to flock to a store if they believe they will receive free samples or coupons from a demo station. In a sense, in-store demos work as free promotion for retailers brands. However, like any promotion activity, it works best when there is a regular and steady schedule.
The costs of hosting in-store demos are usually borne by vendors. They pay for scheduling the demo, hiring brand ambassadors, and providing product samples.
One may believe that retailers must also bear some costs as the demo is being held within their store space. However, these come under the existing costs that the retailer is already paying. After all, retailers have already hired staff to manage their store. The retailer employees who will help organize the vendor demo are already being paid for their time, and would be present at the store regardless of whether a product demo is being held or not. However, they have many other responsibilities and demo coordination is quite low on their list of priorities. Thankfully, automation tools like Demo Wizard are available to resolve this problem.
Improving the Retailer’s Reputation
Vendors often strive to put on the best possible in-store demos to help their products stand out. They use various strategies to grab customers’ attention and wow them in different ways. All these techniques help elevate the consumer experience.
A great in-store demo will improve customers’ perception of your store and encourage them to return in the future. All this can be accomplished without the retailer having to make any additional investment.
Getting an Edge Over E-commerce Stores
In-store demos stand above E-commerce promotions because they engage each of the customer’s senses. For example, an in-store demo of a perfume allows visitors to smell the fragrance itself. They also get to learn about the fragrance composition from the brand’s representative directly. This is in contrast to online promos where they can only see a picture of the perfume bottle and communicate with faceless chat bots or clueless support associates.
Similarly, in-store sampling of food items allow customers to taste a new product. This deeper level of engagement helps win them over and encourages them to come back and try the brand’s other food products.
In-Store Demo Strategies for Retailers
Retailers can enhance the customer experience and increase their sales by implementing the right in-store demo strategies. Some of the methods they should consider include:
Scheduling Concurrent Demos for Multiple Product Categories
Retailers may notice an uptick in sales following a single in-store demo event for a particular product. This may encourage them to host in-store demos from many brands in the course of a single month. However, a smarter strategy may be to host in-store demos for multiple product categories simultaneously. This method works especially well if the products being demoed complement one another.
For example, a retailer can host an in-store demo from a smoked salmon brand around the same time as a demo from a food storage containers brand. Customers who sample salmon at the demo station will be eager to purchase the product. They may then shift their attention to the storage containers in-store demo and gain an interest in purchasing tupperware to store their newly purchased salmon in the fridge.
This strategy increases sales for both brands, giving the retailer a significant boost in revenue. Retailers who wish to attempt this strategy should spend some time deciding which brands’ in-store demos they wish to host simultaneously.
Hosting Themed Events
Retailers often capitalize on sales during special times of the year. For example, a grocery chain may predict an uptick in candy sales around Halloween. Similarly, they may expect an increase in sales for frozen chicken wings during Super Bowl season.
Hosting in-store demos for products related to such events or holidays is a great way to increase sales and attract higher number of customers. For example, retailers can encourage candy, costume and decorations vendors to set up in-store demos in the week preceding Halloween. They can then use this opportunity to brighten their entire store with Halloween themed decorations. This arrangement will wow shoppers and also attract new customers who wish to indulge in the Halloween spirit.
Offering Coupons During the Demo
Retailers can also enhance the shopping experience for customers by offering coupons during in-store demos. These coupons could be for the product being demoed, or they could be for complimentary products that customers may be interested in.
This strategy encourages customers to make a purchase quickly. It also increases their likelihood of returning to the store in the future in the hopes of obtaining new coupons.
Tips for Running Successful In-Store Demo Campaigns
Now that we have learnt the different ways in which in-store demo campaigns win over customers, here are some tips to use them successfully.
Involve Your Marketing Team
Too often in-store demos are being set-up as one off events by the Buyers and Category Managers. Involvement of the marketers to publish and promote monthly schedules of in-store demos, will greatly improve the outcomes.
Encourage More Demos With Great Brand Ambassadors
A brand ambassador could spell the difference between success and failure for an in-store demo. A great brand ambassador understands the vendor’s target audience and knows how to pitch the product or service to them successfully.
Retailers can use software such as Demo Wizard to evaluate the effectiveness of brand ambassadors for different brands. They can then encourage brands with the top performing brand ambassadors to hold in-store demos in their store more often and block those with disappointing performance.
Analyze and Refine Your Strategy
There is always room for improvement when it comes to in-store demo campaigns. Vendors should aim to collect data related to their campaign’s success and look for ways to improve it further. This is possible with the help of in-store demo management software such as Demo Wizard.
As you can see, retailers can benefit greatly from hosting in-store demos without having to invest additional funds or resources. Most retailers are aware of demos and experienced the results they generate, BUT they see it as one off events initiated by Vendors and tolerated by Retailers INSTEAD OF as a valuable marketing strategy initiated and promoted by Retailers. In-Store Demo Strategy is an intelligent design of how to manage continuous, consistent, or at least regular presence of demos at the retail store locations for effective generation of outstanding customer experience economically. So consider trying the aforementioned tips if you want to improve your store’s sales and reputation.
It is notoriously difficult to measure the impact of a brand’s marketing efforts – particularly when it comes to offline advertising. Methods for assessing the ROI of packaging design, billboards, pamphlets, TV advertisements and other traditional offline marketing tactics extremely vague.
This can lend a hand in explaining why the pioneers of the online digital marketing industry, such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook, have seen such explosive growth. After all, the digital funnel analysis can easily provide you with important marketing metrics such as how much reach your advertising has, customer attribution, and cost of customer acquisition, while most brick and mortar marketing efforts cannot.
So the question is: how do you fight this seemingly uphill battle to measure the monetary value of building brand awareness?
In-Store Demo Campaigns
Most people undervalue a long-term impact of In store Demo Campaign, because they do not have a methodology to measure the holistic impact of their event. In other words, ROI is measured only by the amount of product sales during the demo instead of the “big-picture” impact.
While demo sales are certainly an important metric, and are fairly easy to acquire using demo reports and/or POS data in stores, it does not tell a complete story.
The reality is, with proper analytics in place, in-store demo campaigns can provide you with complete visibility into the ROI for every dollar that is invested.
Economic Valuation of Brand Building
When you ask CPG brand builders why they invest time and money into conducting demo campaigns, you will hear a combination of the following responses:
All of the above are very worthy goals, so how would you know if you achieved them or not without assigning economic valuations to them?
Economic valuation of the first two goals are reasonably well represented by sales receipts achieved during the demo event and additional sales uplift during 3-4 weeks immediately following the event. The only sources of such data can be the store POS or the distributor sales order records. But how does one measure the economic value of brand awareness?
A brand is the way a company, organization, or individual is perceived by those who experience it, and growing brand awareness means getting as many people to experience your product or service as possible.
The economic value of brand awareness can be calculated adopting the methods that are commonly used by digital marketers. One of the most effective promotional channels for building brand awareness is internet banner ads. Their effectiveness can be attributed to the powerful algorithms which serve ads using factors such as keywords, demographics, location, and remarketing in order to promote your brand and generate awareness in a very relevant way.
However, there are some big criticisms of online advertising especially around rising data privacy concerns. Ads can be “creepy” in the way they use demographic data and follow a person around the internet.
One may argue that an in-store demo is comparable to running “cold” online advertising (targeting an audience that has not interacted with your company). The goal of each is essentially the same: capture a moment of a potential customer’s attention in order to boost brand awareness.
On the other hand though, the value of tasting a product, interacting with a product, and having direct communication with a brand ambassador, or is a more authentic and valuable interaction than clicking on an advertisement would be. In addition, a consumer may feel more open connecting with a brand in an offline environment, where they are not concerned about their online privacy.
The point is not to argue whether in-store demos are better or worse than online advertising, as the success of different marketing channels can depend heavily on your specific product or service.
Rather, the point is that ROI of in-store demos are often substantially undervalued when, in fact, they should be seen as a valuable offline method of brand awareness building, comparable to online advertising. Therefore, similar methods should be used analyzing the holistic, “big-picture” ROI of an in-store demo, versus simply focusing on the low hanging fruit metrics, such as day sales.
If you’re curious to learn more about getting better analytics from your in-store demos, you can find a free copy of Demo ROI Calculator template by clicking on this link.
After acquiring the brick-and-mortar grocery chain, Amazon started to integrate Whole Foods into its delivery machine. Just look at some Whole Foods Market stores that started to look like a warehouse for delivery pick-ups with regular customers being pushed away.
Most grocery stores are originally designed for shoppers, not delivery pickers. This means small inventory storage areas. That also means employees who pick products for online orders would need to grab most items from the same shelves as shoppers. They would roam aisles with scanners in their hand, asking their colleagues on the floor when they can’t find something. All this time could be better spent elsewhere, namely helping other shoppers.
The same scene would happen at the customer service counter, or even in the parking lot. Within the limited space for both regular and online shoppers, order pickers and delivery personnel will start driving your foot traffic away. These are the customers who come to buy one thing and end up buying a few more.
Amazon has something else on its agenda. Not only do they offer free delivery for online order fulfilled in Whole Foods, they recently announced free delivery for Prime members shopping on Amazon Fresh too.
So what are the other big grocery retailers doing about this?
While Walmart, Kroger and other chains offer home delivery for a fee, they have been promoting ways for customers to order online and pick up groceries in their stores (perhaps as an attempt to recoup some store traffic). Customers have responded well to this partly because it is free.
But, as the New York Times put it: “With its new announcement, Amazon is showing it is willing to spend heavily on delivery where its competitors have not, and make up the costs through other purchases made by Prime members, to undercut the value traditional grocers have been offering.”
Kroger is fighting to stay relevant, despite the increased investment behind online and other initiatives pressuring the bottom line. “It said it has expanded grocery pick-up to 1,780 locations and delivery to 2,225 to cover about 95% of its target households. It’s also working with European online grocery retailer Ocado to build automated warehouses to fulfill e-commerce orders.”
That is a lot of investment to be on par with Amazon’s “get-in-and-out-quick” scheme. Before anyone forgets, the tech giant has been trying to “Amazonify” everything with its Prime membership program. Fast delivery, convenience, limited human interaction represent the long-term bet in changing consumer behavior - not only in the grocery space. Once that loyalty is built for Prime customers, they will buy more, and more frequently.
Meanwhile, brick-and-mortar stores’ sale per customer transaction starts to come down. New food products will not sell because online shoppers mostly replenish the supplies they usually put on their virtual shopping lists. As they can’t discover and taste a new flavor online, there are no impulse purchases, only chores that need to be ticked off.
Next thing you know, who needs a supermarket, when you can have a pick-up center? The same narrative is happening to the restaurant industry, where “ghost kitchens” are rising. Who needs to go to restaurants to eat, when you can order online? Who needs to open a restaurant and weather high operating costs, when you can rent space in these delivery-only kitchens?
There are no brick-and-mortar stores without customer traffic.
Traditional supermarkets are a dying breed, at least the statistics and predictions say so. But is there a way to turn it around? The answer might be hidden in plain sight, something that is already in physical stores’ DNA.
For large players, the much-larger brick-and-mortar store fleets are proving to be key weapons against Amazon. They are playing to their strengths:
“Target has been remodeling stores and is doubling down on its own line of stores brands to differentiate its merchandise and lure customer traffic.”
“Kroger has engaged with DDB creative ad agency to come up with a “refreshed, stronger brand” to drive visits.”
What about smaller supermarkets? Have they got a chance of survival?
Yes if they don’t fall prey to inertia. Yes if they don’t jump on the home delivery bandwagon without proper consideration. Yes if they find a way to bring people together over the mouth-watering appeal of prize ingredients, exotic treats and thirst quenchers.
It’s a very basic human need. Shoppers appreciate the chance to indulge their taste buds through free samples, elevated by an energetic brand ambassador in-store. And supermarkets have every right to make it about the food, connecting people and delighting senses through food.
It’s the combination of behavioral psychology and spatial design to make people care about supermarkets again. It means making grocery shopping more like going to the movies, or a theme park. You are not going to sell convenience or efficiency, but “experience.”
One of the most effective ways to generate customer buzz is offering product sampling.
When shoppers “experiment” and derive pleasure from the process of sampling, engaging, interacting, and evaluating various options, they tend to take more time shopping. And you know how the story goes if you increase the all-important “dwell time” metric in this industry.
The bottom line
Instead of helping delivery companies destroy your business, partner with new product vendors to create continuous experience of new flavors discovery. So your customers feel welcomed at your stores rather than being obstacles to the rushing product pickers.
While Amazon and others are betting on the future of grocery shopping as “getting in and out quickly without interacting with another human being”, focus on creating customer experience that makes shoppers come to your store not because they have to, but because they want to.
Want to see how smart demo scheduling technology can help you create better in-store experience? Get in touch here.
Some brands will only pay for demos (in store sampling) because the retailers require them to support the "exposure" of their products. Yet many of today’s well recognized brands achieved spectacular results in a very short time by using the leverage of field marketing. Their example shows that investment into smart field marketing/experiential marketing strategy can produce return by far higher than other forms of advertising.
Introduction of In Store Sampling
Brands are always looking for ways to get closer to consumers, especially in this digital era. With the fragmented media landscape, many are turning to “shopper marketing” - delivering messages to consumers when they are in shopping mode and receptive to such content. In-store sampling is among the most effective vehicles to drive consumers towards trial and purchase.
Whilst the path of purchase can vary for different products, consumer packaged goods generally enjoy a shorter conversion path (unlike buying big ticket or discretionary items where the buyer journey may take multiple turns). That means there is a greater chance for field marketing tactics such as product sampling to influence consumer behaviour.
Product sampling effectiveness
When the sampling marketing strategy is considered as part of an overarching marketing strategy, it can deliver great results both directly and indirectly.
Many studies have proven that in-store sampling produces both an immediate and long-term lift in product sales. There is even a snowball effect in sales if repeated sampling events are organized for a single product. In addition, in-store sampling drives trial of the new product, with a well-established track record of boosting sales of new product launches.
Why is it so effective? As rational as humans think they are, we are still driven by our senses. Hence, one of the key purchase decision factors is the ability to sample the product or see a demonstration, with 83% of respondents agreeing.
Sampling also taps into the impulsivity of shoppers, with nearly 74% of respondents observed to make impulse purchases of the product being sampled. The physical proximity can make forgotten cravings more salient.
Another psychological factor is “reciprocity.” When you are given something, you are more likely to reciprocate. Especially in a high-traffic store, shoppers with a “heightened awareness of the presence of others at the sampling station may feel a level of social pressure to make a post-sample purchase.”
If brand awareness is your goal, product sampling can also be a great vehicle to assist your other marketing channels. Executed well, the in-store sampling experience can generate positive word of mouth - the most persuasive source of information for consumers.
Another indirect benefit is that running in-store demos can increase total category sales, not just sales for the sampled product.
Devising an effective sampling marketing strategy
As with any business operation, you need a clear strategy for the use of in-store sampling for brand/product activation. An important but often overlooked fact is you need to firstly know what success looks like. By having the right measurements and goals in place, you can work backwards to lay out a plan of attack.
So what are those metrics?
1. Traffic engagement - what percent of passing shoppers stop to taste the product
2. Product engagement - how much time a shopper spend by the demo station
3. T2P Conversion Rate© - what percent of shoppers who taste the product end up purchasing
If your sampling marketing strategy is focused on market test of a new product, review and analysis of captured shoppers comments, may prove the most valuable part of the exercise as they allow to tune your new product characteristics and messaging in sync with expected customer experience.
Considering the cost-benefit equation, a research paper in the Journal of Retailing advises: “If the incremental cost of a sampling event exceeds 15 times the unit price of the product, the event ceases to be profitable.”
The next step is to then work out a detailed plan by considering the following factors: place, people and process.
As the usual adage goes “location location location”, we can’t emphasize the importance of choosing the right store and right area within the store to run product sampling enough.
Essentially there are two factors: Store traffic and shopper demographics, plus other practical considerations.
And a number of questions for brands to consider:
To avoid the trap of “old school demos”, hire brand ambassadors (BA) that are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the product. Obviously, skimping on this by using minimum-wage BA would yield minimal return.
On the other hand, properly trained BA can effectively convey the product and brand image. This helps in influencing shoppers’ perception of the promoted brands positively.
Running smooth in-store demo campaigns requires coordinating several factors: product inventory, store’s timetable and BA’s availability. The conventional way which involves multiple rounds of calls to different people generates inefficiency and dramatically lowers the ROI of in-store sampling.
Thankfully, there is a better way through using software. The simplicity of demo scheduling software implementation and ease of adoption makes the tool an attractive option. Smart technology enables a smart coordination, which combines lower management overhead with market intelligence and empowers quality BA to do their job.
Like other marketing strategies, in-store sampling is not a set-and-forget thing. Continuously refining the plan based on analytics and data will help brands get the most out of it.
Q: How do I keep quality Brand Ambassadors?
A: Reduce their friction and frustration by giving them the ability to self-register availability and certainty of scheduled slots, as well as on-time payments.
Q: Do I need to hire a dedicated demo coordinator?
A: No. You can reduce overhead by deploying smart tools that allow brands to schedule and manage up to 400-500 demos/month
Q: Why aren’t a lot of brands deploying the sampling marketing strategy?
A: Many still think in-store demos are expensive and a waste of time. However, with proper planning and enabling tools, it can help brands build better relationships with stores, BA and ultimately, shoppers.
Q: Can I organize effective demos without hiring in-store sampling companies?
A: Yes. If you’re confident in recruiting BA or already have a database/relationship with promotional staffing agencies, the rest can be effectively handled by using technology to minimize cost.
Want to see what smart demo scheduling technology can do for your CPG brand? Request a free demo here.