Insta-Ready Retail: How Hashtags and Selfies Help Your Brick and Mortar’s Bottom Line
It’s no secret that retail is undergoing a digital transformation. As Millennials go on to dominate the consumer market (with Gen Zers at their heels) social media has staked its claim as the glue that connects consumers, brands, and retailers together, with social media platforms like Instagram moving to the forefront of retailers’ marketing strategies. Dubbed “Insta-Ready” retail, brick and mortar stores are hoping to draw the platform’s billions of active users to their stores and build awareness by creating visually appealing, shareable content.
Understanding the trend
68 percent of Millennials demand an integrated, seamless shopping experience regardless of the channel. This means a unified transition from online to offline. A great example of this is NYX’s interactive retail stores. Originally an online cult favorite, the beauty brand found a way to bring their ever-popular Instagram feed to shoppers in-store.
Not only is their branding consistent with what you see both on their e-commerce site and social feeds but they’ve managed to integrate another popular retail trend, Influencer Marketing, into their stores using tablets. On these tablets, consumers watch tutorials from their favorite beauty influencers using the products they are currently shopping for.
Although 45 percent of Millennials spend more than an hour a day looking at retail-oriented websites, they’ve demonstrated that they still crave the in-store experience, with only 16 percent of Millennials making the majority of their purchases online via mobile. This is where Insta-ready retail – an extension of experiential marketing – comes into play.
How Instagram can help your business grow
Understanding what drives Insta-Ready retail is one thing, but how does one incorporate this strategy into their business? I asked a couple of experts in the field; interior designers known for their work helping brick and mortar retailers do just that.
“I tell all my clients to create an in-store experience that will allow consumers to hashtag while they’re in the store. Have a feature wall that they can photograph in front of that is ultimately going to build more [foot] traffic, and help increase conversions,” explains Trystin Kier, founder of the Kier Company.
“The digital space is so important for Instagram users. If you have a digital component, yes hashtags are important, yes a feature wall is important, [but you also need to make sure that the] things that are being shown on Instagram should be available for the customer to touch, smell, taste, whatever your business may be.”
“We are in a sharing culture, and people enjoy posting what they experience,” adds Rhonda Burgess, founder of Powerhouse Interior Design, LLC. “Retailers need to create a brand experience that includes an interior to feast the eyes (and camera) upon.”
So how can business owners take advantage of this “sharing culture” and utilize Instagram to grow their business?
Have a ‘feature wall’. It will serve as the perfect backdrop to customer selfies. “[A feature wall] is also a great way for shoppers to see something that’s a part of a new collection, or something that’s very popular for the season,” adds Trystin.
Bring the in-store experience online. Creating a seamless transition between online and offline is a two-way street. “Your marketing strategy should be to use Instagram to show what the in-store experience is like,” advises Trystin. “Reel customers in by creating a sense of FOMO [fear of missing out].”
Think about lighting and space allocation. As Rhonda puts it, “You don’t want consumers to take one look at their camera shot and hit the delete button instead of the share button!” Think carefully about the lighting in your store and how it shows off the product both in person and through a phone screen. Rhonda recommends testing the lighting yourself throughout the day if need be and making any necessary changes. She also reminds store owners that a store layout is important. “Consider space for shoppers to share safely, without bumping into others or knocking merchandise off the displays. This can be achieved with wider aisles or a lounge/photo booth type of area that fits the brand and space.”
Get creative when merchandising products. If you’re a retailer, when choosing brands to stock your shelves, think about how they will be displayed. As a brand, your packaging should serve a dual purpose, both functional and visual.
This is the new era of retail. Consumers spend so much time online that the line between on and offline have become blurred. If you maintain a brick and mortar store (or any physical presence at all – even if it’s a temporary pop-up shop), your main concern should be driving foot traffic. Insta-Ready retail is your gateway to omnichannel Millennial consumers.
“Instagram is a blessing and a curse, because if you’re selling everything on Instagram there’s really no reason for anyone to go into the store, unless it’s a really incredible product that has been marketed properly,” remarked Trystin by the end of our call. Rhonda shared similar sentiments, stating that as a business owner, “You have to give someone a reason to put clothes on, get in their car, drive across town, find a place to park, and enter the storefront.”
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