Bright ideas on final steps of purchase path

As marketing techniques employed at the point of sale become more sophisticated, seven retail experts answer questions posed by Marketing Week.

Marketing Week (MW) Marketing Week’s inaugural Point of Purchase Attitudes Research indicates that in-store material is more strategically important to businesses than ever before. What strategies have you developed to create the right environment in store and to increase footfall?

Justine Southall (JS): We work with our retail partners to create specific promotions for their shoppers, with appropriate offers and things that will stand out. An example of that is some work we did with Tesco. We teamed up with Pantene and TV presenter Cat Deeley – who is the face of the company’s latest shampoo brand – to produce lenticular covers (where the image moves) with Deeley on the front, swishing her hair.

Justine Southall
Justine Southall, Publishing director, Cosmopolitan magazine

That enabled us to create something that was both collectible for the reader and increased our distribution through Tesco. The supermarket also gave us more prominence that month because we were giving them something exclusive.

Adam Margolin (AM): In the promotional and pricing area, we communicate as clearly as possible with colours, graphics and the amount of space devoted to sub-branding.

We have promotional branding called Real Deals and we’ve reduced the size of this to increase the size of the product and the price messaging to make sure that the consumer can see what they want more quickly.

Another strategy would be giving the point of sale a theme based on a calendar of events, such as Christmas or Easter. This ensures that the in-store environment and the point of sale within it has as positive a feeling as it can and be designed to maximise that event on behalf of the retailer.

Richard Baylis (RB): In a large proportion of our estate we’ve got electronic screens in the windows and throughout the store. They deliver a dynamic image for the customers to look at and have added benefits of being better for the environment and allowing us to have central control over our point of sale. Instead of shipping point of sale material to our branches around the UK, we manage it centrally and digitally.

The other thing we’re doing is encouraging our customers to have a play with our products. In a large number of our new stores we’ve now got live handsets on display and that allows customers to have a play, to use the interfaces, and much better understand the product that they’re shopping for.

Adam Margolin
Adam Margolin, Head of marketing support, Spar

Siobhan Fitzpatrick (SF): As part of the new Argos identity, which we launched in January, we are refurbishing the store network, giving the customers a more modern and comfortable shopping environment.

In addition to the branding changes, we have also enhanced the experience with digital touchscreen stock checkers, which allow customers to check and then reserve stock in up to ten local stores. We are also providing improved technology and jewellery product display areas.

Baptiste Chiéze (BC): We are relaunching Sellotape with new products arriving in store this month. In-store execution was an integral part of the brief from the earliest stage of the new brand development. We have reworked our range entirely with new colour coding to ensure it is easy to navigate.

MW: Shopper marketing is set to become mobile, personal, location targeted and social. What new technologies are you using to incentivise shoppers?

JS: We’re working with retailers that already have quite sophisticated database mechanisms like Nectar or Tesco Clubcard. We can use those databases to target our customers or like-minded customers effectively with tailored offers.

SF: At point of sale we include multichannel marketing campaigns that target different customers/audiences with bespoke media codes that can then be recognised at the till to track conversion from channels such as email, SMS, social media, flyers and press ads.

Richard Baylis
Richard Baylis; Head of retail, O2

The launch of our iPhone app was also founded on the insight that customers are increasingly “on the go” and has been a key development in our commitment to our multichannel proposition.

Bill Moir (BM): We were the first multichannel electrical retailer to launch a mobile site, which allows our customers to reserve a product online via their phone, and collect it from a local store 30 minutes later. We’ll soon be launching social navigation on our site, enabling us to match customers with specific advice from similar experts. For example, if a customer is browsing for a high-end 3D TV, we’ll direct recommendations to them from customers who have already bought a similar product.

RB: This is no longer just about incentives, it’s about good advice for our customers and quality information so the customers can make informed choices about their purchase.

When we launched the iPhone 4, we offered an online stock checker, so customers were able to check whether the store had the product in stock before they made their journey. That’s indicative of the way that customers now choose to shop, which is very much on a multichannel basis.

BC: We are working on a new interactive computer to support the shopper’s decision making at the DIY fixture. We are also working on a new concept integrating QR (quick response) barcodes on all our packaging to provide instant information for the shopper.

MW: How do you make sure that your point of sale is displayed correctly in store?

Siobhan Fitzpatrick
Siobhan Fitzpatrick, Head of brand development, Argos

JS: We tell the retailers where we want to be listed and ranged (the kind of brands that we would like to be sat next to). We tend to be the central brand, so other magazines want to sit next to us.

Because we’re selling at a high price (£3.40), it’s in the retailers’ interest to give us a good position because if they can sell more of us at a high price, their margins are going to be better.

I’ve worked on magazines in the past where you’re constantly knocking your head against a brick wall as retailers are placing you in a sector that’s not relevant to you, which means you don’t get the right kind of traffic.

Nick Widdowson (NW): We use merchandising agencies to pre-sell in-store activities to the retailers directly and then they go in on the day to help the store. In PoP, compliance is one of the biggest barriers to return on investment (ROI), so support from agencies is critical. It might be that this comes at a cost but it is worth it if it is implemented consistently and with excellence.

MW: Can you give an example of a customer insight that has helped to create a successful in-store campaign?

AM: We know from a variety of industry research that it is quite difficult to interrupt consumers when they’re shopping. To overcome this problem, we’ve themed certain parts of the store. When we held a wine festival in May, much of the activity focused on one particular part of the store. There was also a lot of point of sale and promotional products, which are the key to making people behave differently.

Baptiste Chièze
Baptiste Chièze, Category management director, Henkel Consumer Adhesives

NW: A promotion we ran in June last year was based on the insight that in a recession shoppers are increasingly seeking brands they trust and that are value for money.

We used a Sure deodorant promotion where the can was made out of pound coins. This was to reassure the shopper that money invested in that product was well spent.

RB: We’re running a big programme called the O2 Gurus. Customers told us they wanted personalised help and advice, so we created this service to help them – and customers from other networks – who want to learn more about a product they have already purchased or a product they would like to purchase. We will give them advice on anything to do with telecommunications.

BM: We discovered through our research that customers wanted the after-sales services we offered but didn’t notice the in-store communication. We used this insight to change our in-store services PoS, introducing vibrant colours and benefit-led headlines, such as Installation – “Up and running”, Delivery – “No hanging about” and PC Services – “Fixed in a click”. We also commissioned an artist to draw original illustrations highlighting the benefits, so that they were crystal clear.

We also know that customers are apprehensive about technology and that this is a key barrier to making a purchase. Letting customers get their hands on products and our staff giving simple demonstrations helps to demystify it.

As a result of this insight, we introduced interactive “play tables” for cameras, camcorders, laptops and PCs into many stores, as well as kitchen appliance tables to showcase how the product might look and perform in the customer’s home.

We have also introduced PoS material that highlights key product features and have trained in-store colleagues to carry out a series of short, effective demonstrations.

MW: How do you track the effectiveness of in-store marketing campaigns?

JS: Primarily it’s on an ROI model. In-store marketing campaigns is one area that you can track in quite a quantitative way. You are selling a product and there is a volume related to an expenditure that you can then measure. That would be any combination of market share, sales uplift compared with the cost of the activity and what those additional sales give us. That allows us to benchmark each promotion against different criteria.

Bill Moir
Bill Moir, Head of marketing Comet

RB: We use a customer experience measurement system that we call our “fan tool”. It allows our customers to describe their experience in store, whether that be the environment, the store or how helpful our colleagues were. Every customer is surveyed in this way. We get about 30% of our customers responding and a large proportion of those customers also give us a free text format response, so we’re learning an awful lot from them about the experience we’re giving.

NW: Naturally, we’re looking at ROI. We measure effectiveness by the percentage compliance (what has been implemented versus what was agreed by the retailer). We are in the process of looking at a new way to measure shopper engagement in store, moving from a quantitative approach to a more qualitative one. It will examine the impact of everything from type of material, position, height of unit and also the marketing message, and will enable us to really uncover all the factors that contribute to why our consumers buy our products.

BM: The single biggest test of effectiveness is sales. As a matter of course we run tests on in-store campaigns before rolling out successful elements to the whole estate. Defining test and control regions and assessing the impact of our activity is very important to ensure that we don’t waste time and money on initiatives that will not be successful.

We actually carry out research on in-store campaigns in store in order to get a constant read on customer reactions through either watching what they are doing or asking them what they think.

BC: For Christmas – the key period for Sellotape – we are running specific omnibus surveys on top of standard panel data and electronic point of sale (EPOS) analysis. This enables us to clearly understand the impact of our in-store activity.

MW: What do you predict will be the key issues or developments to affect the sector in the next 12 months?

Nick Widdowson
Nick Widdowson, Merchandising manager, Unilever UK & Ireland

RB: We will see more customers using their mobiles for the purposes of research and for shopping, so I think we’ll see more personalised offers direct to your mobile, potentially even as you’re walking past the store. I guess the challenge is to make this relevant to the customer, but also to make it available to everyone and not just to the more technically savvy among us.

JS: There’s been a complete frenzy of cover mounting this year. If you are putting a gift on the front of your magazine that is worth four times the cover price, you have to think about the long-term effect of your brand.

Fundamentally you live or die by your content. It’s important to have retail standout, to create covers that are really bold and attractive and clearly say what this brand stands for. But at the same time you have to deliver value for money in the content that you’re selling.

Retailers want us to spend more on leveraging their revenues through getting suppliers to buy more in-store space and different sorts of promotions. The next 12 months is going to be all about value for money, but that’s not necessarily about being cheap. It’s about doing what it says on the tin. The companies and brands that have continued to be successful in the long-term, stick to their guns.

AM: Cost will come up again and again. We regularly see innovative, funky and potentially really effective point of sale materials, which use digital technologies such as LED screens. But they cost so much, in comparison with traditional card-based point of sale materials, that you can’t afford to trial them, let alone roll them out across 2,500 stores. Finding a way of bringing new technology in at a reasonable cost will be a challenge. I’d expect to see an element of consolidation in the sector from a supply point of view to enable better prices.

I also think recession trends will continue for the next 12 to 18 months, particularly around promotion price shopping. That’s the area of point of sale that I think will get the most focus.

NW: One of the burning issues at the moment is measuring effectiveness to really understand the real return. We’re in a climate where it is very important that we spend our money effectively. But just as important to Unilever is understanding the environmental impact of the materials we use in store. We’ll be helping suppliers to measure their carbon footprint for their benefit, but also to help us measure our performance in sustainability.

BC: Brand experience and perception is moving closer and closer to the point of purchase. Historically, brand marketing focused on above-the-line campaigns, PR and sampling. As the retail environment becomes very noisy, we are now working on new innovative approaches at the fixture.

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