In the last 18 months retail has changed even more than ever due to the pandemic. Almost every retail business has online shopping available for customers: multichannel marketing, once a privilege for large corporations has now been universally adopted by businesses of all sizes. How will this change how printers operate?
According to a recent McKinsey study, the e-commerce industry grew exponentially during the second quarter of 2020. Many European countries were put in lockdown, even small family-run businesses had no other choice but to make their services and products available online or risk closing down their businesses.
Many shops started to offer “Click and Collect” or delivery via SMS, voice calls and WhatsApp. They set up their own web-shops or moved to large platforms like eBay or Amazon. By doing so, smaller retail businesses explored multichannel marketing as another way to target their customers.
For printers who specialise in POS applications, due to the pandemic many experienced a drastic loss in business. Instead of featuring elaborate shop and window signage and decorations this was replaced with signs with QR-codes. This directed customers to online channels. More often, smaller and larger shops often reverted to using their own office printers for sign printing.
Will in person customers come back? Looking at some major shopping centres, it is predicted that big cities that have large malls. This is encouraging and many shops have commissioned beautiful in-shop decoration to encourage potential customers to visit. But in many smaller cities, especially those with an older demographic, businesses are still struggling and not making as much profit as they did before COVID.
Caption: Simple multichannel strategy at a fashion store of jewellery brand Thomas Sabo: The QR-Code redirects customers at the closed shop´s door to the mobile website. Image credit: S. Angerer
Commercial content across the real world and on online between print and online media, is rather old news. Since 2000, businesses provided downloadable PDFs of their printed catalogue. On their websites, they requested for customers contact data to send a printed catalogue. Many of these early attempts in media convergence were rather uninspiring.
By approximately 2010, the use of printed catalogues became outdated. In 2020, even IKEA announced that the 70th edition of their catalogue, once printed for more than 200 million catalogues worldwide, was their last printed edition. Today, customers can download their catalogue as a PDF and other curated brochures on their PC / Mac or use the IKEA Apps on their mobile phones. There are still huge IKEA outlets, where customers could collect their reserved items before the Pandemic. Printed Signs in the furniture store inform customers, that an item that is temporarily unavailable can be ordered online: Multichannel marketing at its best.
A trend-setter in the retail markets, IKEA already predicted that there would be a change in the purchasing behaviour of their customers. They expected that many customers would prefer online shopping even after COVID, but they may continue to visit shops occasionally for the experience. Some customers may continue to prefer in-person shopping and other may replace it entirely with online shopping. Regardless of the customers preference, online and print catalogues can still offer an inspiring experience for the customer.
Caption: Personalised packaging will also contribute to the new retail media convergence, as buyers will want to offer creative and bespoke items like a Champions League ticket.
What´s in it for printers?
This new, immersive world of shopping could be a unique opportunity for printers, their versatile equipment, and their creative teams. Outdoor and indoor signage, below-the-line advertising, catalogues, mailings, personalised packaging, online and other channels all converge into one big goal: conversion. Keep the customers happy and inspire them to purchase your products. Ensure that your customers have a positive experience when buying your products that they become return customers be it online or offline.
Therefore, printers with experience in creative retail solutions will play an important role in helping retailers to evolve and take the next step in customer relations. By doing so, they will save their own revenue in the process, which may result in saving High Street businesses.
Discover the latest innovations in textile printing at the Global Print Expo 2021, Europe's leading exhibition for screen and digital wide format print, textile printing and signage. Discover the latest products, network with like-minded individuals and explore new business opportunities. Register now and use promo code FESH101 to receive a discount of 30 euros.
by Sonja Angerer