As a part of a very fast-moving and trend-sensitive business, sports retailers face increasing demands from highly engaged and truly social customers that want to connect with them across many channels. For you as the sports retailer ― at times managing tens of thousands of products per season ― you must not only bring products to the market quickly with all the right marketing assets, but also understand your customers and provide them with a unique and exciting shopping experience that builds trust and keeps them coming back.
So how can you keep a swift pace and stay ahead while still informing your customers with compelling stories about the products they are looking to buy?
Let’s first take a look at how sports & recreational shoppers behave. According to AgilOne’s research, 43% of sports shoppers prefer to conduct research online, compared to only 30% that research in-store and 20% who do not do any research before purchasing. 46% are still drawn into the store to make the purchases, while about 32% make their purchases online. This, however, varies according to market: in the UK, 55% of shoppers purchase their sports goods online (http://www2.agilone.com/blog/sports-retail-trends-snapshot). This suggests that your sports & recreational shopper is likely to conduct their research in more than one channel; one in five will not research at all, and between a third and half (at least in the UK) will make the actual purchase online.
If you connect and engage with your sporting goods customers and coordinate your marketing to be consistent across all your channels, you can create an inspiring customer journey that gives your customers the information they are craving. When your store reflects your eCommerce experience, which in turn reflects your email marketing and also reflects your printed matter, you can create a 360-degree view of your products that is consistent and inspiring everywhere your customer wants to connect with you.
To create this exciting customer journey ― while still maintaining full control over your entire product range― you can manage all your product information and digital assets efficiently with the help of a PIM (Product Information Management) system. By perfecting all your product marketing in one single system that enables you to create, plan and publish it, you can reach all your channels with the same consistent message and experience. You can also adapt your marketing efforts to fit the needs of specific channels, yet still trust that the product information is up-to-date.
Our customer, the sports goods retailer Stadium, decided to rise to the challenge and implement PIM. With PIM, Stadium staff can create and manage product information and digital resources while maintaining a consistent style, look, and feel across all channels. Not only did this dramatically reduce production costs, it also improved the quality of their marketing material, enhanced the customer experience, and increased sales. The PIM system made it easy for Stadium to guide customers with images, text, and videos, providing the best possible service regardless of where customers wanted to interact with them.
When you can swiftly handle product texts, images, videos, comparisons, similar products, related products etc. within one system, you can update the information in all your channels with just one click. Since all channels receive information from the same system, you can trust that your customer experience is consistent, regardless where and how your active customers connect with you.
Annette Ståhlberg, Content Manager, inRiver
The term, “micro-moments” was coined by Google to describe the intent-driven moments of decision-making that occur throughout the customer journey. These micro-moments present new challenges for eCommerce marketers. Marketers are finding that targeting unique individuals that are moving among devices, places, and contexts is a very different exercise compared with targeting large customer groups based on demographics. According to Google’s research, those marketers that are trying to reach their audiences solely on demographics alone risk missing more than 70% of potential mobile customers. Thus, companies need to figure out how to provide customers with the exact right content in the precise micro-moment when they are seeking it.
Anywhere, anytime content
Many customers that have a want or need turn to their digital devices for help. In increasing numbers, the chosen device is a smartphone, with many retail customers using more than one device during their buying journey. Although B2B buyers are often in front of a desktop or laptop computer, they too are also moving more frequently across devices.
Although the size of the screen on a smartphone inhibits the rendering of the same rich product experience that can be experienced on a laptop or a TV screen, smartphones have the advantage of being able to serve up content anywhere, anytime. This means that marketers need to consider where customers are in the buying journey, where they are physically located, and what device they are using when serving up content in real time.
A simple answer to the challenges associated with micro-moments would be to invest heavily in content delivery platforms, such as eCommerce and Customer Experience Management solutions. However, these platforms need a large amount of content to be effective. One image and one single long description just isn't enough anymore. With this approach, all customers will be exposed to the same content regardless of who they are, where they are in the buying journey, when they are looking, the device they are using. This tactic would be like taking the print catalog from the 90’s and publishing it in many places. It increases reach, but it doesn't support the customer’s micro-moment decision-making.
Today’s content requirements
In order to drive the delivery vehicles, we need to provide them with fuel. In this case, the fuel is content. Targeting each customer in their unique micro-moments with the right content adds some new requirements:
However, these requirements present additional challenges. For example, speed is an enemy of quality, and when we have less and less time to create content, quality can suffer.
Enabling your content delivery process
So if the answer is to produce more content, with better descriptions, higher granularity, and higher quality, how do we do that?
Throwing more resources at the process—brute force—is the simple answer. However, adding more people to a broken process has not typically proven to be very successful. Rather, working smarter rather than harder is a better approach, assuming that the requisite systems are in place to support the content production process and enable the automatic syndication of the content to all touch points. Therefore, assuming that micro-moments are now a major driver for digital initiatives, a product marketing platform should be the foundation of your content delivery process.
Johan Boström, Co-founder and Evangelist, inRiver