2013: The Year of Deal-Seeking

Google released its top-searched items of 2013, and Kohl’s, JCPenny and Nordstrom graced the top spots on the apparel brands and retailers list.  Following the top three included Forever 21, Old Navy and Macy’s.

What do these retailers have in common?  All were searched along with terms that indicated shoppers were looking for a deal or price reduction.  For example, Nordstrom shoppers were most likely looking for Nordstrom Rack in their searches.

But this trend of looking for good deals is not exclusive to online retailers.  Shoppers are also more likely to negotiate prices in-store, thanks to multiple resources.

Brick and mortar shoppers now have an arsenal of never-ending resources in the form of smartphones.  Price-checking in-store, or showrooming, has quickly become the norm, and retailers have had no choice but to find creative ways to fight back and ensure in-store sales remain strong.

Best Buy is one of those retailers and is offering a price-match guarantee this year.  What does this mean?  Customers can bargain.  Prices are no longer set in stone.  If a shopper finds a cheaper price online, Best Buy will work with them to keep that sale in-store.

The future of retail is changing rapidly and with each new technological advancement, shoppers get smarter about what they are willing to pay for products and services.  Brands and retailers will also have to continue to get smarter, adopting new technologies and policies that will ensure both in-store and online channels thrive.

Nordstrom Explores Pinterest In-Store

Most brands and retailers these days utilize the image-cataloging social network Pinterest to drive awareness and engagement. Department store, Nordstrom, is taking cues from Pinterest in a trial initiative.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek:

In March, the department store chain started marking its “most-pinned” products from Pinterest with little “P” logos at two stores near its Seattle headquarters. Now Nordstrom has expanded the initiative to 13 of its 248 locations in a trial that will end just before the company’s big anniversary sale later this month. The Pinterest push marks the latest play by the 112-year-old brand to leverage tech startups for in-store sales.

Not only is Nordstrom marking these products to raise their visibility, it’s also using the items followers pin to manage inventory levels. Sales associates can cross-reference most-pinned products with those in stock at their location, thanks to an internal company app. Geography also plays into the picture, meaning inventory levels can be adjusted and shifted among stores to better match the popular pins in their areas.

Though the results of this experiment are still to be determined, Nordstrom is already taking the next step to fold Pinterest into its toolkit with the addition of Pinspiration pages to its website, highlighting the top pinned products.

So what can other retailers or brands take away from this? Pinterest is more than pinning your products on boards, hosting a giveaway or attracting followers. It can be another level of engagement. Given that Pinterest is aspirational and inspirational, highlighting a product in your store or in your brand’s arsenal in the real world also illustrates that it is achievable. One’s Pinterest fantasy dress or dessert doesn’t have to remain a figment of the imagination, instead a shopper can take it home with her. Expand this to other social media. Nordstrom could use Instagram shots in-store (maybe a scrolling ipad display?) to highlight customer purchases and product love. Think woman’s feet in cute sandals on a boardwalk, with a caption like “Love my new sandals! Perfect for vacation! #Nordstrom #Summershoes.”

It’ll be interesting to see how other retailers/brands will try to work in the engagement of social media by bringing it off the computer/mobile and into reality. These tactics are easily scalable for retailers/brands of all sizes and budgets, but the social media of choice also has to be a good fit for the product and consumer for it to work.

Photo credit to Swirl Marketing