116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
How's this for a holiday gift? It turns out the digital revolution didn't kill retail after all.
And, if you'll forgive another cliché, it turns out that what didn't kill it really did make business stronger - in some respects, at least.
According to a recent report by Think With Google, the typical consumer's reliance on the Internet for research and virtual browsing has had a positive effect on brick and mortar retail sales, even though foot traffic has fallen dramatically:
'Holiday store visits dropped 55 percent, from 38 billion in 2010 to 17 billion in 2013, according to ShopperTrak. Yet during that same period, same-store sales rose, according to MasterCard's SpendPulse report, which means that the value of each store visit actually doubled. How? Consumers visited less, but they were better informed about what they wanted when entering the store. Each trip was more purposeful and they bought more.”
Of course, this phenomenon is only helpful to those businesses with an effective online presence. That means businesses need to create content, lots of content, in many different forms.
In today's customer-centric, convenience-is-king marketplace, the typical consumer jumps from link to link searching for solutions to their problems. Blogging is a particularly effective way to deliver helpful content to searchers.
Businesses who focus on answering the questions their customers are asking in organic search queries reach their customers early in the purchase cycle, increase their engagement metrics and improve their search engine ranking.
Updating your website and social media regularly with fresh, relevant content for current and potential customers is critical as well. Those businesses that offer regular promotions, customer service, services such as online ordering with local pick up, appointment booking and even something as simple as a 'click to call” option for mobile searchers tend to develop sticky customer relationships.
Why? Consumers spend their money with businesses that offer what they perceive to be the best value.
Today, in addition to price and convenience, a good user experience is a major factor in the value equation.
These shifts in buying patterns will continue to change the way all businesses operate, not just retailers. As the Internet of Things continues to expand, the kind of workers needed to power the economy will change in response.
A recently released report by the global research firm Gartner predicts that by 2018 digital business will require 50 percent fewer business process workers and 500 percent more key digital business jobs, compared with traditional models.
In this evolution, new roles will transform or replace traditional service positions. Businesses will need creative staff with graphic design and writing skills to supply relevant, timely content to attract the digitally savvy shopper.
Other, more technical contributors will be creating apps, tools and systems for delivering content and convenience on the latest platforms and channels.
For management, overseeing the delivery of digital content will require hybrid employees with a skills rarely combined by universities and colleges. Part creative, part technologist, part accountant - these big-picture professionals must be capable of integrating business strategy, IT, communications and marketing to achieve measurable results.
Technology being another gift that just keeps on giving, surely we are not yet done with major business disruptions. Products and ideas that don't even exist today will no doubt emerge and change current business models.
When that happens, having a strong content strategy will help businesses not only survive but to grow stronger as well.
' Comments: Regina Gilloon-Meyer, (319) 368-8530, email@example.com, is a content marketing specialist for Fusionfarm, a part of The Gazette. Twitter handle: @RegiiMary