In the world of retail, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the cards on the table. So what are the new opportunities? In this post, we have summarized them in a formula, that of the new 3P marketing mix. 

Today, we are immersed in a reality that, just over a year ago, no one could have imagined. The pandemic triggered by the spread of COVID-19 has radically changed our lives, has disrupted our daily habits, and has had an enormous impact on the world economy, as well as local economies, from large to small. 

Of course, the impact has also been decisive on all workflows, production processes, as well as distribution and sales processes. No sector has been spared, but some have been more affected than others. Among the latter is certainly retail, especially proximity retail. 

Still, the light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to appear on the horizon. We need to keep our eyes in that direction. 

However, we can’t simply wait for the future to arrive, as if waiting for “salvation” to fall from above, as if by miracle. Just as in nature, the winners are those who know how to adapt to the changing reality before the others

No crisis passes without leaving its mark, without changing the world of the future in a more or less decisive way, and there are always positive aspects of change. There are always great opportunities. It’s all about knowing how to seize them.

 

> EBOOK – Digital Disruption: the opportunities during the Covid-19 emergency

  

The opportunities within the crisis: The new 3P marketing mix 

It’s often said that every moment of great crisis is also a moment of great opportunity. Nothing could be more true. The big problem, however, is that this concept is often repeated as if it were a magic formula. However, it’s not a magic formula that you need, but a solid, concrete plan. 

That’s what we want to do in this post: to get down to the concrete. We’ll do that by focusing on what we call the new 3Ps of marketing for retail. Here they are: Proximity, planning, personalization

Let’s get one point straight right away, because it underpins everything. These three aspects have one element in common: Digital Transformation

Digital has triggered a huge revolution, and this didn’t just happen yesterday. We can say that we all live two lives: One in the flesh and blood world, and one in the digital world. The internet has changed the way we approach reality, it has changed our societies, it has changed all aspects of economic life forever

The pandemic, however, has unexpectedly accelerated this process. In periods of lockdown, digital technology has literally saved us. 

Digital has allowed us to continue to shop safely and to have remote medical consultations. It has allowed businesses to continue working through “smart working.” Pupils, both young and old, have been able to continue attending school with distance learning tools. It is always thanks to digital technology that we have been able to relax and maintain a certain level of social interaction. 

Of course, we all need to do our part so that this period of emergency will soon be behind us, and it will happen. However, the acceleration that the digital world has experienced in these complex and unpredictable months is here to stay. Lucky for us! 

The new processes, new tools, and new methods that we’ve experimented with during this time will not disappear. On the contrary, they will bear new fruit, and they will generate new possibilities for business through improvements and optimizations in customer relations, marketing, loyalty, production, and much more. 

These are possibilities that companies must learn in order to take advantage of them before the competition. 

In this post, we have decided to concentrate on marketing (which is always connected with Customer Service) and to collect these possibilities in 3 macro-themes. The new 3P marketing mix, precisely. 

We’ll look at each one below. 

 

3P marketing: A new (increasingly digital) proximity 

If you hear the term “proximity,” you certainly don’t think of digital first. And while this was the case, today, proximity has new meanings. 

The concept of “Proximity Marketing” is becoming increasingly popular: a concept that mainly involves the world of smartphones

But what are we talking about, more concretely? 

“Proximity marketing” is about creating digital touchpoints within physical stores, aimed at specific and increasingly personalized targets (it’s no coincidence that this will be the “third P,” which we will return to later), based primarily on geo-targeting opportunities. We’re talking about tools that are becoming more effective, efficient, and “surgical” every day. 

Think about how our habits have changed when we find ourselves inside a physical store. If we are in an electronics store to buy a new television for example, we all search online, on our smartphones, to learn more about the features of the various devices; we look into an item’s performance, we read opinions, reviews, and feedback; we compare prices; we hunt for the best deals. 

This happens almost everywhere. 

Some data? 

According to a recent survey, as many as 31% of users are influenced in their choice of a product by the searches they conduct via smartphone while already inside a store (source: Digital4Biz). Of course, this percentage is even higher among younger people. 

Another example? 

We are also using our smartphones even when we are in a car dealership, where 72% of people who use a smartphone inside a dealership are more likely to visit another one (source: v12data). 

There are many cases to support this. So, it’s useless for retailers to try to oppose this trend: it’s unstoppable and bigger than before. 

These new habits must be read, understood, and accepted, and the good news is that, for those who can see them, there are huge possibilities lurking in this change in attitude

These possibilities involve presale services. Promotion. Cross-selling (Think about all the possibilities of recommending products on a supermarket shelf!) But also loyalty (with tailored loyalty programs). Up to and including all Proximity Payment systems, which are spreading rapidly. 

To put it another way: it’s about building a new Customer Journey model that is simultaneously physical and digital

In addition to the obvious immediate benefits, retailers gain another valuable “asset” in this way: A huge new amount of data about their customers. But we’ll return to this in a moment. Now, let’s tackle the second P: that of planning: 

  

Planning: A necessary step 

We won’t dwell too much on this point, because – after all – it’s the most intuitive of all. 

It is useless to underline how, in these emergency phases, planning has been nearly indispensable. Planning and reservations are not just for  hotels and restaurants, when possible (this was a common experience even before). It’s also useful for avoiding long and potentially unsafe (from a social distancing point of view) queues at the Post Office, the pharmacy, or even in some shops. 

Again, here is a trend that will not end with the end of the emergency, but is here to stay, for a very simple reason: It’s both useful and convenient. So it will be a habit we won’t lose. 

Now it’s all up to retailers! Again, there are many opportunities to be seized. There are simple, personalizable, and increasingly efficient booking apps. There are opportunities to build real in-house apps that are designed entirely based on their own business and products (apps that are increasingly used by users). Then there are the opportunities to transform the booking phase into a pre-sales phase. 

Last but not least, there is the enormous possibility of transforming this additional touch-point into an opportunity for personalized dialog with one’s own potential and actual customers, increasing one’s attractiveness, and boosting loyalty rates. 

In the final analysis, it’s all about personalization. 

 

> FREE WEBINAR WITH GUEST FORRESTER – Customer Experience gets personal: the power of Personalization

 

The turning point of personalization 

One of the oldest secrets of a good retail business is very simple: Targeting individuals, because you know their characteristics…and therefore you can anticipate their needs and desires. 

This is what has always happened in small towns, but also in the neighborhoods of big cities: a good retailer knows who you are, he knows your tastes, he knows what products you could be interested in, he is committed to treating you well, because it is in his interest because he knows that you will come back and speak well of his business with your friends. In short, he is happier and so are you. 

But how is it possible to bring this “intimate” mechanism to a large scale? 

It sounds counter-intuitive, but digital once again offers us the answer. It’s called personalization, and it’s what specialized companies like Doxee are all about. 

The starting point for personalization lies in the so-called Big Data, the most precious asset in the new digital world. 

It is therefore a question of learning how to collect the greatest number of “digital traces” left by online users while they visit physical locations, and using these to build increasingly precise profiles and increasingly specific targets to be hit with tailored actions and communications

But what matters – today more than ever – is not so much the quantity, as the quality of the information collected, the accuracy and depth (that’s why we often talk about “Smart Data” or “Deep Data”), and with proximity marketing this quality becomes maximum, because the data collected are very specific and geolocalized. In short, we’re talking about the perfect “material” on which to build a one-to-one dialog, based on the preferences of individual consumers, captured directly in the places where they go to make purchases

This is where we must start again. Tackle this emergency by looking to the future. Take advantage of digital to get back to people again. To put it another way: Transforming data into relationships. 

 

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