The Lost Art Of The Live In-Store Demo (From Promo Marketing)

90% of UK purchases are still made in physical shops, so ‘old fashioned’ in-store demos still have a role to play in marketing, says Jill Pinner of Fizz

Research shows that even the glorious weather we’ve been having hasn’t been able to halt the growth of online retail sales. As a consequence of the internet retailing market continuing to grow, many brands are investing more heavily in their e-commerce and m-commerce services.

According to eMarketer, global B2C e-commerce and m-commerce sales are set to reach £879bn this year thanks to the rapid growth of mobile use and retailers increasingly developing responsively designed sites for browsers on handheld devices.

While there’s no doubt that consumers are increasingly blending their route to purchase – between stores, online and mobile devices – the fact remains that according to ONS, only 10% of retail sales made in the UK last year took place online. It’s a fact that people still overwhelmingly buy from people.

Brands and retailers are increasingly showcasing their wares through extravagant responsively-designed websites, microsites and apps; yet marketers can’t afford to invest all that money in digital and overlook the importance of their in-store offering.

If the consumer journey ends with them walking out of a store without making a purchase – if they couldn’t get the information they needed from under-trained staff, for example – then the digital investment has been worthless.

The perfect marketing mix for the digital age uses all the tools available to brands to engage with consumers at multiple points along the road to purchase. Some brands and retailers are so focussed on the earlier stages of that journey that they can often neglect customers in store. Clever marketers integrate new technologies into the mix without abandoning more traditional approaches.

Even some of the traditional seeming retailers are starting to experiment with a more comprehensive, 21st century marketing approach. For example, Waitrose announced recently that they’re trialling iBeacons in-store. Consumers who decide to opt-in will be identified from their mobile app and welcomed as they arrive at the store. They will then be given tailored vouchers towards everyday products like olive oil.

This is a unique opportunity to engage consumers with a loyalty offering while also directing them to try a sample of the product. The product could be delivered to them by a trained brand advocate who can provide additional information to close the sale, such as the provenance of the olives and suggest recipes for meals which incorporate the product.

Any brand or retailer can gain from deploying a well-trained in-store team who are familiar with the product range and can answer consumers’ questions, demonstrate the products in action and outline their various benefits. After all, the power of field marketing is that it’s capable of adding an expert human touch to the tail-end of conversion, making it easier for marketers to reach consumers in a way that adds genuine value to the customer experience.

With so much choice on offer, consumers also value brands that can offer them expert advice. When a consumer walks into the store, they often know which product they need, but not always which brand to opt for. Even those who’ve done extensive research can be overwhelmed by the sheer range of products on offer. It’s one of the reasons why consumers like to see products up close and in the flesh before making a purchase.

Consumers want to touch the product, assess its quality, and have the opportunity to have staff answer any queries they may have. They want to experience the product before they’ve had to part with any hard-earned cash. Live demos can demonstrate the value and usefulness of a product to prospective customers. At a time where consumers have never had so much choice, this first-hand experience can make all the difference between whether a prospective customer becomes an actual customer

This article appeared in Promotional Marketing. To view the original article, please click here.