These 2 Graphs Explain the Retail 'Apocalypse'

These 2 Graphs Explain the Retail 'Apocalypse'

These 2 Graphs Explain the Retail 'Apocalypse'

access_time Jul/07/2017

Long dismissed as “truthful hyperbole,” the mass extinction of many American brick-and-mortar stores is underway. Payless is closing hundreds of locations as it files for bankruptcy, once white-hot Michael Kors is struggling, and Bebe is sunsetting its physical business entirely to focus on online sales.

Nationwide, shopping malls are closing at an alarming rate and providing AMC with an abundance of landscape shots for “The Walking Dead.” Malls are so barren, owners have received numerous proposals to convert them into affordable-housing complexes. The first such units rent in Rhode Island for $550 per month. Are you listening, San Francisco?

While Amazon stock has netted a cool 350 percent return over the last five years, iconic American retailers in serious danger of fading into irrelevancy. The decline is rooted in a myriad of factors, but the existential threat to large retailers boils down to two, simple graphs.

1. A crisis of (in)convenience.

According to a Dynamic Yield survey of 500 shoppers, fewer than 1 in 10 consumers believes shopping in-store is the most convenient approach. This hardly is surprising, but it must be examined as a major driver of brick and mortar's decline. Humans will gravitate toward the easiest method of commerce. Taking hours out of one's day to shop in-store doesn't fit the bill.  

But brick-and-mortar stores never were going to win the battle for the most convenient shopping experience. Once economies of scale reduced delivery costs to mere trivialities, online shopping became the rational choice. As a test, our team recently ordered several bags of coffee for our eighth-floor office. The Amazon delivery arrived 23 minutes after we clicked submit.

Mobile shopping's rise has expedited physical stores' decline, true, but the die was cast long ago. The ubiquitous smartphone and emergence of product lines such as Amazon Dash merely are running up the score in a fixed game.

Related: Amazon's Whole Foods Deal Will Remake Strip Malls

No matter how innovative a retailer, in-store shopping harasses customers with basic miseries beyond the owner's control. The company CEO can't do a thing about the overzealous driver who saw your blinker but stole that parking spot anyway. The marketing director's creative campaign isn't worth much if the person in front of you at the register has 100 items, 50 coupons and three declined credit cards.

Brick-and-mortar stores can and should invest in basic convenience improvements, particularly those that unite online and offline channels. Again, this is a tough battle. Machines built to save shoppers’ time often cause more problems than they solve. Self-checkout lanes are a perfect example. 

There's a related threat in the graph above. Approximately 60 percent of the traffic on retail websites now comes from mobile devices, but only 16 percent of conversions take place on mobile. Smartphones' primary reason for existence is efficiency and convenience. Still, shoppers overwhelmingly prefer desktop devices, which see a smaller share of logins every day.

To stay afloat, retailers must optimize their mobile web and app offerings for convenience while optimizing the in-store experience around a certain je ne sais quoi that can’t be found online. Sadly, many physical stores also struggle to find it. 

Related: 4 Ways Brick-and-Mortar Stores Can Outsell Online Retailers

2. Make shopping fun again.

Shopping is a prime leisure activity for millions of Americans. Surely, then, the majority of shoppers must find brick-and-mortar stores to be the most enjoyable way to pass this time? The data suggests otherwise.

Think about stores whose aisles seem always full of customers. What do they have in common? They craft uniquely enjoyable experiences that cannot be replicated online. Shopping at Wegmans, IKEA and Costco isn’t simply a means of acquiring stuff. These trips make up a legitimately enjoyable Saturday afternoon.

Related: You Sell Experiences Whether You Realize It or Not

Retailers go to great lengths to anticipate customer wants and provide thoughtful details. The effort is paying off. Wegmans' exciting in-store experience has led to roughly $8 billion in annual revenue, making it one of the largest private companies in the United States. Costco’s share price has doubled in the last five years, and it's now the second-largest retailer in the world. Nearly 1 billion customers visited global IKEA locations last year (a boon for the suddenly blossoming lingonberry industry). Amazingly, IKEA's food sales brought in about $1.8 billion during the 2015 fiscal year ($1.6 billion euro at the time). That's more than Buffalo Wild Wings or Wendy's. 

Even so, Wegmans provides the most powerful example of creating a memorable experience. The company competes against several unicorn startups it cannot possibly beat in convenience. Blue Apron and HelloFresh have found ways to cost-effectively deliver delicious, meals to your doorstep. Packing all the ingredients and preparation instructions in each bundle saves consumers hours at the grocery store. But Wegmans gives consumers a reason to want to spend hours at the grocery store. These strategies have led to such a strong cult following that New York City has heard months of buzz around a store that won’t open until 2018.

This also is precisely where many of America’s iconic retailers have failed. Most recent improvements to in-store shopping at large department stores have focused on beacons, heat maps or other self-serving tools for retailers that do little for the customer. The result? Shoppers experience an in-store visit that's not fundamentally different that it was two decades ago. (Hell, even the pop music piped through malls was better back then. Spice Girls, Radiohead and Third Eye Blind were dropping straight fire.)  

Related: How 9 Successful Companies Keep Their Customers

Before Tony Hsieh founded Zappos, the idea of buying shoes online was unimaginable. Until it wasn't. Improving technologies mean there might never again be a purely utilitarian argument for visiting a store. From the moment retailers launched ecommerce sites, brick-and-mortar shopping was fated to decline as a basic necessity.

To stop the apocalypse, retailers must help consumers rediscover how in-person shopping can be a pleasure -- and create new benefits, perks and premiums to bring people through their doors.

content_copyAssigned tags
News You May Like
7 Easy Ways to Win More Conversions on Social Media

Advertisers frequently reference the magic of social media as a way to boost conversions and engagement in consumers. And, in fact, social media has evolved into the go-to solution for helping users locate niche products and be persuaded to take the plunge (convert).

Related: 5 Key Tips to Improve Conversion Rates

Some of the biggest platforms -- Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Reddit -- are associated with some of the biggest and most consistent of these conversions.

One big reason for social media's success in this regard is its similarity, in today's digital age, to the marketing and sales procedures that ruled the traditional pre-internet era: In those years, the best salespeople commonly focused on building a relationship and trust with customers first before they began dropping hints about their product in the context of an "advisory" role.

In short, these salespeople didn't suddenly jump from making a contact to selling the product outright. So, the argument could be made that social media continues this tradition. It too builds a relationship and trust in an audience or clientele as a way to prime them for conversion.

Studies support this notion: According to Instagram's own reports, 80 percent of people who use the platform already follow a business. Also, those that already follow a brand or business are more inclined to be engaged with, and increase awareness about, that business. What's going on here is people's trust in "social proof": It's something customers look for in order to make decisions.

How can your business make use of this psychology? Here are some of the easiest ways to capitalize on it and get more conversions via social media:

1. Create unique content for each specific platform you target.

Much the way applicants submit supplementary essays when applying to multiple colleges, you should create content for, and gear it to, the specific audience expectations of the media platform you're targeting. Writing content that is native to a platform greatly increases the chances that its audience will accept it.

2. Use more than just links to promote your content.

When you post on platforms like Facebook or Instagram, you cannot rely only on a stream of links to boost your conversion rates. As noted before, hard-selling customers quickly turns them off to a business. To avoid giving your audience this negative impression on social media, you should promote your business by providing meaningful, interesting content users think is fun and genuine.

3. Keep track of your traffic.

As a basic rule of thumb, know which links and outlets are attracting the greatest amounts of traffic to your business's commercial pages. There are a ton of resources that can help you simplify this monitoring process, like Google's URL builder, which helps you capture important data about a specific link in the name of the link itself.

Related: 39 Quick Ways to Increase Your Website's Conversion Rate

4. Know whom to target.

There are a number of ways to do this. Keep in mind that these methods should be designed to fit one platform, to produce the best results. Look at the sample platform, Instagram. In order to track the prime influencers in your niche, you might use a service like Ninja Outreach. Ninja Outreach specializes in finding influencers based on data associating certain keywords and their relevance and popularity on the platform of certain influencers.

5. Leverage existing professional relationships with marketers and influencers.

If you have a good working relationship with a number of marketers and influencers already, you can easily ask them to throw you a bone every now and then through a Twitter post or Facebook tag. First, think of relatively inexpensive things that marketers and influencers can do. Then, just reach out and ask them to mention your business in a tweet or tag back to your business in a relevant Facebook post.

While that may appear like a small gesture, it actually makes a huge difference in helping promote lead generations for your business.

6. Provide an easy, discreet log-in system.

So, users have begun clicking on your promotional link: Now, what? If you're thinking ahead a few steps, you should realize that making them feel welcome and providing a convenient medium for them to purchase through is key to increasing conversions. The easiest way to do this is to set up a social login system which lets users sign-up with a Facebook or Google+ account. Make it a point to not slam the login request in the face of a user with an involuntary pop-up or fade, as this may drive away inquisitive users with low commitment.

7. Make your checkout process simple.

If you make a checkout process too complex or long, you may find that users who'd intended to buy a product will change their mind halfway through. You want to keep their enthusiasm and interest for your product going strong as they fill in credit card details or a PayPal address. Having a payment system in place that can process a number of different mediums while being clean and efficient will greatly expedite the payment process. The less time that users spend in the waiting line, the less time they'll have to reconsider or second-guess a purchasing choice.

There are two main actions to consider when you're trying to get more conversions through social media: the first is tracking social analytics; and the second is ensuring that your website and landing pages have strong calls-to-action and smooth account systems in place to attract and retain new customers.

Related: 4 Forgotten Aspects of a High-Conversion Homepage

What can your site do to help you improve the conversion rates for your business?

Read more

4 Secrets to Becoming a

The following excerpt is from Dan S. Kennedy and Dustin Mathews’ book No B.S. Guide to Powerful Presentations. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

Note: This excerpt was guest-written by Dave Vanhoose, co-founder of Speaking Empire.

There’s not much real certainty in business or in life.
I’ve been involved in selling by presentations for a very long time, and I believe I know a number of things about it, but I’m also always still learning and, hopefully, improving. I was asked at a seminar if I could talk about any one thing about creating and delivering presentations that was a rock-solid certainty. There is.

The more experience I got with developing presentations and with delivering them as a speaker, the more certain I became that . . .

…the more you teach, the less you sell.

In the beginning, I fell into the trap that catches most speakers and presenters: being a professor. I learned that it’s much more useful to be a Presentainer®—our word at Speaking Empire for somebody who can move an audience emotionally, connect with them personally, and entertain them on some level. This is the only way to hold attention and grow interest. It makes you more memorable and your presentation more influential. It involves the audience as they like to be involved. The TV they watch, the movies they see twice, the games they play, and the novels they read all do this, and so should you.

If you have a powerful presentation, and you have the right mindset about it, yourself, and your audience, and you have the right delivery, you win every time. So let’s talk about delivery.

1. Leading and Ending

The classic, textbook speaking formula applies: Tell your audience what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them. This lets you first create a sense of anticipation, getting the audience sitting on the edge of their seats and hanging on every word. Most of the great stage magicians of the golden era, Houdini included, always told the audience about the illusion they would next see, in very dramatic terms—they didn’t just go out on stage and perform the trick. At the other end, you summarize what you’ve told and shown them, because people tend to very quickly forget key points of any complex presentation.

2. The Yes State

Small commitments lead to more substantial commitments. Resistance is better erased a little bit at a time. As a presenter, your goal is to have people say yes to you, mentally and physically, a number of times during your presentation. You can involve people by getting them to raise their hands, yell a word or phrase of agreement—“Yes” will do, even getting “All those who . . .” to stand up. With most audiences, there’s limited response to the first attempt at this, and you have to joke with them and cajole them to get more of them to play.

At Speaking Empire, we usually build some “Yes” questions, requests for agreement, and moments into every presentation.

A lot of things can affect the audience’s state: who they are, how they came into the audience—willingly or “sent” by an employer—time of day and fatigue, what they know in advance about you and your presentation, and location. This hands you two responsibilities: first, to do what you can to help get them into a positive mental attitude about you and your presentation’s benefits and benefits of benefits before they are actually with you. Second, to be able to “take the temperature” of a group and make some adjustments on the fly if it’s cold, to warm it up.

The one thing never to do is to leave an audience’s mental and emotional state to random chance and try to deal with it in a single leap over a tall wall toward the end of your presentation.

3. The Seven-Minute Rule

Have you ever seen a speaker start strong but lose his audience sometime during his presentation? The audience starts slumping, fidgeting, and even looking at their phones—at worst, getting up and leaving—one after another. In making Speaking Empire the go-to company for developing powerful presentations, we’ve done a lot of research, as well as drawn from our own experience. One of the areas where there’s a lot of research to be had is in the neurosciences. One fact for which there is consensus is that the human brain can only maintain focus for seven minutes. It basically fades, stops, and restarts in seven-minute cycles. That’s why you need to get your audience to re-engage with you every seven minutes.

You can do this with a quick request or direction, like:

  • Raise your hand if _________
  • You’ll want to write this down.
  • Stand up if—or—stand up and do ____________
  • Turn to your neighbor and _______
  • Repeat after me . . .

4. Dynamism

Few effective speakers stand still behind a podium or lectern, or read a word-for-word speech from notes or a teleprompter—it doesn’t have enough life to it. Audiences are affected as much or more by how you say what you say as they are by what you’re saying. That “how” includes voice, confidence, enthusiasm, whether or not you seem to be happy to be in front of them delivering your message, and physical movement. In many ways, you’re a performer delivering a performance.

Read more

Turn More Prospects Into Customers

You may have heard me say in the past that people are ready to buy when they are ready to buy--not when you’re ready to sell to them. This is correct, but does that mean you are at the mercy of the prospect to make a sale? Of course not. Every buyer goes on a buyer’s journey. Some people move quickly through that journey, while some move slowly, but with information, contact, and education, you can greatly influence that journey and ultimately get more customers.

All prospects go through the following three phases.

1. Awareness

In this phase, buyers don’t even know you exist, so they can’t know what your product is or if they even need what you sell. It is your job to find these people (I call them prospects) so you can let them know that you exist, who you are and what you do. At this stage of the game, you are simply generating leads with a goal of getting some of those prospects to raise their hands and express some interest in your company, product, service or a related topic. When you’re creating this lead magnet or content to attract these prospects, you want to focus on helping your prospect solve a problem they have. Once someone’s opted in, they’ve taken the first step.

2. Consideration

In this stage, the prospect now has an awareness of you and your company, but they still aren’t ready to buy because they need more information. In years past, prospects got all of that information from salespeople, but now, thanks to the internet, buyers don’t need to chat with a salesperson to learn more. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be trying to get your information into their hands early and often. Make sure this information is focused on helping them answer the questions they have. It should show them additional pain points your product or service is able to solve; it should tell them about the benefits; and it should enlighten them to the features of the product or service. Having a solid nurture campaign can increase sales opportunities by 20 percent or more.

The consideration phase can literally last weeks, months, or even years. It’s all dependent on you, your follow-up, and the needs of the prospect. During this phase is when you want your prospect to chat with your salesperson or watch your selling webinar.

Advanced Tip: While you’re giving great information and sales presentations to your prospects that position your product or service as better than your competitors’, make sure you also give the prospect proof of why it’s important for them to take action and instead of simply doing nothing. Many prospects bury their heads in the sand instead of working to solve their problems, but most companies never address the issue of doing nothing -- they only address why they are better than their competitors, without realizing that they lose far more deals to people kicking the can than they do to people actually making the decision to use a competitor.

3. Decision

Once your company is on the short list for a buying decision, the prospect’s purchase comes down to simple verification of facts or terms and last-minute negotiations or next steps/setup types of questions. Answer these questions well, and you’re on your way to having a brand-new customer. 

By focusing on campaigns that will help you walk each new prospect through their decision-making process, you will be better positioned to not only be on the short list come decision time but to be the company that wins the customer at the end of the day. 

Unfortunately, getting a new customer is only half the battle. Once you’ve acquired your new customers, your job becomes turning them into loyal, repeat customers. Most businesses lose money on each new customer, so making sure that your customer onboarding process, repeat purchase process, and customer retention process are on point will protect your investment and ultimately help you see a positive long-term ROI for each new customer you acquire. At the end of the day, there’s no point in acquiring a new customer if you can’t keep them and ultimately turn a profit. 

Read more

3 Things You Should Do for Every Sales Campaign

You can have the best sales piece in the world, but if it’s missing one critical ingredient, you could see virtually no response to it. We don’t want that to happen.

If you want people to take action and buy from you, you have to ask for the order. But surprisingly, most marketing messages don’t. If you don’t include a strong, clear call to action in your direct mail campaign, you are wasting money! You need to make it ABUNDANTLY clear what your offer is.

By the way, if you’re new to direct marketing, a call to action is the words that urge the reader (or viewer or listener) to take immediate action. In direct mail, your call to action could be, "For Your Free Report, Call 1-800-123-4567" or "Order the Ultimate Weight loss System today by calling 1-800-123-4567.” To get the response you want, your sales copy must convince readers that this is something they need to act on NOW.

Also, you need to include your call to action more than once in your sales letter. That’s because people skip around when reading, and your instructions should be so simple that a 12-year-old can follow them. That’s because busy, distracted readers often think at this level.

Learn From This Example

I received a postcard from my local hospital recently, and I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out why they wasted advertising dollars on this campaign. They seemed to be notifying everyone about the arrival of two new doctors, and I think they were looking for “consultations and surgical care” patients.

But I can’t be sure what their goal is for that postcard. It’s a mess.

I mean, when was the last time you got a postcard and thought, Hey, this hospital has new doctors, fresh out of med school. Maybe they can practice doing surgery on me. Sign me up! Luckily, marketing isn’t that easy. Or else I’d be out of a job!

Something I find especially humorous about this postcard is that it’s from my local hospital, and they are the ONLY hospital in town. In other words, there is no competition for my healthcare dollars.

Here’s how this hospital could have invested their advertising dollars instead of wasting them:

1. Target Your Audience

Instead of mailing everyone in town, they should have narrowed their list down to older people, more likely to need surgery. Or, they could have rented a list, and selected people who have filled out a survey and noted they have an ailment of some sort. That type of list is available!

2. State Your Call to Action

They should have used an effective call to action. For example, they could have offered a free report, such as “7 Things You Must Know Before Having Surgery.” Also, they could have hosted a reception to meet the doctors and listen to a short presentation on “7 Things You Must Know Before Having Surgery," or "Call for a FREE consultation to determine if surgery is right for you!”

3. Establish Your Credibility

The hospital should have told the story of the new doctors. As far as I can tell, they are fresh out of college with no experience. Or maybe they just look young, but they each worked 10 years at the Mayo Clinic and have done thousands of procedures. Who knows? The hospital must explain why we should trust these new doctors.

If they are fresh out of school, they could say something like, “Dr. Martin just completed 19 months of advanced study in the latest procedures. He is one of only 30 doctors in the world certified to use XYZ Method, which shortens recovery time for most patients. He has two young children and picked Grants Pass as the perfect place to raise his family ....”

I could give you more ways to improve that direct mail promotion, but do you get the idea? This particular postcard fails because it lacks a strong call to action backed by strong copy.

You don’t want to leave it up to readers to figure out what you want them to do -- they’ll just lose interest.

Read more

The Evolution of Bots: An Interview with Facebook Messenger's Anand Chandrasekaran

Bots have quickly taken over multiple spaces in the past two years, and companies choosing to climb on the chatbot train have continued to grow. The fever pitch of bot-mania has shown no signs of abating: in fact, it has only grown and will continue to grow. How did we get here? What have bots meant, and what will they mean to businesses in the future.

There’s one man who knows better than any other, and that is Anand Chandrasekaran, head of Messenger Partnerships at Facebook. Chandrasekaran’s work is focused on Messenger, which has quickly dominated as the preferred platform for developers and businesses alike. Over 100,000 developers have created over 100,000 active bots on the platform. That number is only growing.

Related: Top 10 Best Chatbot Platform Tools to Build Chatbots for Your Business

What is a bot and why does your brand need one?

I like to tell people: “Don’t think of yourself as bot developer, think of yourself as building a great product.” Platforms and features on top of those platforms that did not exist a couple of years ago are now there, and you can do things that were previously not possible. The question that I would start with is, “What is a little bit of magic that you could do today, that you could not do before?

Once you think about that question, it’s good to look back at the journey that has led us here in the last year, and what a “bot” has meant in that period. As we see the ecosystem continue to develop, chatbots are starting to show a variety of features: menus, buttons, visual interfaces, AI, and some fully fledged apps that only exist on Messenger.

When we opened up the Messenger Platform, it was also used in very creative ways. There were chatbots that would give you the news, the weather -- all automated. As the platform evolved, there were all these tools that now become available on the platform, and it became clear that bots were much more that just chat. They had to -- and could -- do a lot more with those additional tools.

For example, the generation of bots that arrived with these tools could do much more in comparison to previous generations. In response to a question or conversation, they could open up a view and show you a flow that you could use to either consume a visual, socialize an experience, or introduce a richness; including sharing that with a friend. They could bring in work that the developer had done within a website into Messenger, which allowed people to leverage the richness and time that they had spent solving these problems, and pull them into Messenger.

Even when we look at how these human-powered sessions have evolved, a visually rich experience could be complemented with a human-powered session, if it was necessary. The new tools would allow for easy back-and-forth between these two.

Not surprisingly, a lot of the use cases in the early days were in customer care in various ways, where switching from another channel to Messenger and leveraging the consumer’s desire to message businesses dramatically alters the overall experience, compared to what was possible.

Related: How to Create a Facebook Messenger Chatbot For Free Without Coding

What are we seeing today in terms of bots?

If you look back at those technicalities and the various user interfaces, whether it was chat, AI or voice, you can actually see that these bots have become a lot more powerful, as opposed to what they were capable of doing a generation ago. They are automating, solving, and working for you and using these various interfaces to ask you clarifying questions, give you what you asked for, or respond to your request.

The other compelling solution for consumers is -- as opposed to searching for hours -- you could give this automated agent some information and the system could search for what’s good for you, and ping you back via notifications when it has what you need. There are travel bots out there, like HipMunk and SnapTravel among others, that leverage this to give you an offer or result when it’s ready, like when a fare drops to the right price. This way you’re not spending time finding it; these agents are helping you out with those.

Similarly, if you expressed interest in certain content like a favorite artist, music integration can tell you that there is new song from your favorite artist, and there is instant gratification. Each of these experiences can instantly lend themselves to be very social so not only can you consume it yourself, but you can share it with your friends. With tools like Chat Extensions, almost every natural use case becomes shareable, which is a very important solution that every developer looks for because most of their experiences are actually inherently social.

Related: How to Create a Facebook Messenger Chatbot For Free Without Coding

What is the value of bots right now?

The real promise, as we look at it, is that these are like an army of automated agents that are collaborating, working for you, unleashing value, and when they need more information they come back and ask you for more information. This is what you want an agent to do for you.

Because this has been powered on the back of platforms like Messenger, we are actually very bullish about these developers who we work with everyday. We feel like they have started to build tools that are valuable in terms of emotional connection and solving emotional and social needs, but also necessary. Some of these tools are very much what you want to do everyday, but you don’t wake up in the morning excited to do that, like paying your bills or getting receipts of all your purchases. It’s useful and necessary, and then there are some use cases that are valuable. We see a platform where tools are now available to build a combination of both of these. 

Read more

Videos You May Like