The season of love is here and that has meant one thing for retailers, the swift implementation of Valentine’s Day campaigns across all of their stores.
While most chain retailers populate their campaign calendars with their key shopping events at the start of the year, the nitty, gritty details of store campaigns, like those for Saint V-day, are usually finalised just weeks, if not days, before the physical marketing materials are due to arrive in store.
If you’re part of the retail marketing chain, you’ll know that this long-term planning and short-term delivery process is both necessary, but also full of challenges.
The marketing team want to ensure their campaigns deliver the best commercial performance, taking into consideration trends, stock levels, competitor activity and realisation of the initial campaign concept.
Meanwhile, the stores need adequate staffing levels and clear communication to deliver new campaigns accurately and to coincide with the retailer’s omni-channel strategy. It’s a balancing act. And age-old processes tend to make it even harder…
Traditionally, once the briefing and artwork process is over, identical marketing packs, containing a whole host of display materials, are printed and shipped out to all stores. There may be different packs depending on the store grade, but often the personalisation doesn’t go much beyond that.
Occasionally, and very impressively, the marketing requirements for each store are saved in the brain of a longstanding member of the marketing or operations team, allowing for more bespoke packs to be sent out. More often than not, store data is saved on extremely hard to understand spreadsheets – or it all sits in the hands of suppliers.
Well, if the traditional process is followed, shop floor staff need to rifle through the display pack, identify the materials (or POS) that will fit their store, discard the rest and get to work installing campaigns that mirror the (often printed) display instructions from HQ.
The glaringly obvious problem with this one-size-fits-all approach is waste. Completely, avoidable waste. Not to mention the massive unnecessary print costs and extra staff resources to understand and implement every new campaign on the shop floor.
And if you’re an organisation with a genius member of staff that currently holds each individual stores’ marketing requirements in their remarkable memory, what happens when they retire? Or if this Valentine’s Day they meet The One and decide to jet off somewhere new? Or use their remarkable memory skills in a new role? What happens to all of that undocumented store data?
Meanwhile, if it’s all on spreadsheets, extracting the right data to target campaigns is time consuming and error prone. And, as soon as a store layout changes or a fitting or fixture gets replaced, it’s instantly out of date!
Waste and extra resources aside, the elephants in the room (yes, multiple) are the colossal missed opportunities: the chance to promote luxury dark chocolate and fine wine in areas where you know they’re more likely to be purchased, or BOGOF on flowers in student towns (stereotyping much?) or better Valentine’s Day meal deals than a competitor two doors down.
The chance to segment your instore promotions just like you would online. So that they’re more effective… so that you can build better relationships with your customers and sell more, possibly heart-shaped, things.
Consumers want store environments and experiences that speak to them. They want knowledgeable staff that have the time to interact with them. They still want the convenience that physical stores bring, particularly when it’s the day before Valentine’s Day and the online shopping cart and free delivery is rendered useless.
And we’re not romanticising things – the majority of retail purchases still take place in physical stores. They’re absolutely worth the long game.
So, if you, like us, have fallen out of love with traditional instore marketing processes… if you’re looking for more than the plenty of fish (in the store) approach to planning, producing and sending out your marketing materials… if you want your customers to experience instore promotions and campaigns that are targeted with the accuracy of cupid’s bow…