It’s official: retail marketing is sexy again. The likes of Google, Amazon, Facebook and co. are creating new consumer experiences to shorten the buying journey between those first searches or ads and the final purchase.

This means you need to adapt to a new kind of shopping process; one where less time is spent on websites and more of it in search, social media and even in-store. The good news is this shift isn’t as drastic as it sounds – in fact, the transition has been slowly happening for a few years now.

Here are the key retail marketing tactics to claim your place in the next stage of online shopping.

#1: Keep up with Google and Facebook

Google and Facebook are slugging it out to become the king of retail tools. Earlier this month we revealed Google’s new Shop the Look experience for fashion retailers – an improved search format designed to drive sales from Google Search via shopping ads.

Meanwhile, Facebook is at the forefront of chatbot technology – something we’ll be talking about a lot more in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for that.

The social giant is also deepening its ties with eCommerce platform Shopify. You can already set up Facebook Shopify stores to sell products directly from Facebook pages, but now you can also sell from within the Messenger app.

Both Google and Facebook will be competing to introduce the hottest retail features over the next few years – so keep up to date and take full advantage!

#2: Make online reviews one of your key marketing objectives

Customer reviews are at the heart of every major retail platform. People to buy with confidence and it’s not only product reviews on Amazon consumers need to see.

When Google returns a list of similar options, users are forced to make a choice. If they don’t already trust or recognise any of the options, customer reviews are the biggest influence on their choice.

Online customer reviews
Source: Invespcro

This is why reviews play such a large role in Google Maps/mobile search and the same reason Google created its Seller Rating Program, which places a star rating on your AdWords ads:

Google seller ratings
Google Seller Ratings

So make online reviews one of your key marketing objectives. Google recently increased the number of reviews you need to qualify for seller ratings (from 30 to 150) so it’s more important than ever to build a profile of positive reviews from around the web.

We spoke to TrustPilot (one of our and Google’s trusted partners) for some advice on how to maximise customer feedback:

Reviews provide automatically updated, user-generated content that can improve your site’s SEO. Moz predict 8.4% of the reason behind website ranking in local search is down to the amount of reviews the website has as well as their quality. With super SEO, you can have higher conversions, greater credibility and customer advocacy. Phill Kay, Partnership Director

#3: Slash your cart abandonment rate

According to data from Baymard, the average cart abandonment rate for eCommerce sites is 68.81 per cent. That’s a huge percentage but it’s actually down from the average of previous years. This is because eCommerce brands are fighting hard to improve the shopping experience so more users complete the purchase.

Shopping cart abandonment reasons
Source: Baymard

The table above shows the most common reasons people abandon their cart after choosing products. To slash your cart abandonment rate, you should focus on the issues in the table above and user experience in general. Use conversion rate optimisation to pinpoint other weaknesses on your website and maximise the number of visitors to complete the final purchase.

Baymard finds that by purely focusing on the checkout process, the average eCommerce business can cut its abandonment rate drastically:

“If we focus only on checkout usability issues which we – during the past 7 years of large-scale checkout testing at Baymard Institute – have documented to be solvable, the average large-sized e-commerce site can gain a 35.26% increase in conversion rate though better checkout design.”

You’ve spent good time and money to bring users this far along the buying process, so don’t let them get away at the final hurdle.

#4: Break the online/offline divide

The rise of mobile changed retail marketing forever. Finally, we have a way to track users as they move between online and offline interactions with brands. Now you can see which ads people engage with online and how they affect offline buying decisions.

So it’s time to break the online/offline divide and create a more cohesive marketing strategy. If you have brick and mortar stores, use online interactions to increase store visits (eVouchers, promotions, etc.) and explore new ways to generate web traffic from offline interactions.

The headline technology in this area is beacons, which deliver marketing messages in fixed locations. The tech is still in its early days, but it is going to change the way we interact with brands on the move.

#5: Social customer care

These days, customers expect instant feedback when they have a problem and social media offers up some of the best platforms for handling their concerns. If you’re responsive enough and show a talent for dealing with their issues, your customer retention rate should rise steadily.

Once again, you’ve already paid to get these customers and you know they have good reason to buy again, so you absolutely want to turn as many of these into repeat buyers as possible. This brings us back to trust and it’s vital customers know you’re there when they need help with something. Social customer care can be daunting but it’s an opportunity to show everyone how epic your services are – not only for existing customers but also for potential buyers too.

As you can see, it takes far more than a website to establish yourself as a retail name these days. Users are spending less time on web pages and more of it in search and mobile apps, which means you need be sure your brand is seen on the platforms your target audience uses most. So keep our five retail marketing tips in mind and keep an eye out for more advice from us in the near future.