Clicks and mortar retail – can social media help the high street?

9th August 2018

This week we’re taking a look at the burgeoning trend for clicks and mortar retail. Regular readers of our blog will know that the popularity of the internet and smart technology has prompted some retailers to take another look at how they sell – both in physical and virtual stores. Some shops that started out online have even moved into bricks and mortar retail – as it becomes increasingly apparent that shoppers enjoy both the convenience of shopping online and the experience of shopping in store – particularly when those experiences are enhanced with apps and other cutting edge retail technologies.

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

Despite these developments, recent figures suggest that many retailers are still failing to catch on – especially smaller vendors and independent stores – those which are vital for making the high street more appealing as a destination for retail experiences, rather than just a place to grab essentials. Nearly half of small businesses don’t actually have a website – something which according to statistics, can impede growth by 40%. But even if a shop does have a website or even a Google Business page, a recent survey by PwC suggests that social media could be the new key to increasing retail footfall – as social networks are now the number 1 source of inspiration for purchases.

The number of retailers recognising the value of, and willing to invest in social media advertising is growing – with a projected increase of 40% on social media advertising spend forecast by 2020. And, whilst ad hoc tweeting and posting can trigger a spike in sales, more and more companies are planning ahead and integrating social media into their wider campaigns.

Encouraging shoppers into stores

This kind of multi-channel merchandising requires meticulous forward-planning. Graphic design, digital story telling and content scheduling are planned well in advance as part of an integrated product marketing strategy – where the visual merchandising reflects the wider campaign. This approach is so popular it has become a ‘thing’ with some retailers coining the phrase clicks and mortar retail – as online channels serve to enhance in-store experiences or encourage store visits.

According to PwC, social media is driving brand popularity and footfall more than ever with 71% of satisfied customers more likely to recommend brands to others based on their experiences on Facebook and Twitter. Social media also allows brands to create exclusive social media offers that can only be redeemed in-store: rewarding loyalty and encouraging shoppers to come in and visit.

Instagram revolution

Where Facebook and Twitter enable brands to engage directly with customers, Instagram is revolutionising retail in a different way. Primarily visual, the popular and aspirational social platform helps retailers to showcase their most visually appealing products or experiences and creates communities where shoppers can check in to locations and create a sense of curiosity around products using specific hashtags.

So the next hope for saving the High Street and driving footfall to stores could be the clicks and mortar approach. A well-planned and executed social media campaign, which ties in with an existing marketing strategy could be a real boon for any size store – from franchises to smaller independents retailers – but whatever you do, do something! As the statistics demonstrate, being invisible online could seriously damage your business. Social media is here to stay – whatever your feelings about using it – and should be embraced. For now at least, one channel will not supersede the other – and many brands are developing some pretty decent strategies for making them work together.

Have you applied a clicks and mortar strategy in your store? Do you think online retail will ever see off bricks and mortar (or vice versa?) Let us know in the comments below!