Seemingly overnight, COVID-19 changed how consumers shop: instead of strolling around in stores, they are shopping from the comfort of their own homes, making e-commerce a vital shopping channel. At the same time, the pandemic accelerated the need for brands to navigate the new world in order to grow or maintain businesses in the retail industry.
For the first 10 days of the holiday shopping season, U.S. consumers spent $21.7 billion online—a 21% year-over-year increase, according to Adobe Analytics
Retailers such as Walmart and Macy’s have begun to use stores as fulfillment centers for online orders to keep up with the demand for next-day and faster delivery and major chains like Target and Best Buy followed Amazon’s lead on Prime Day, launching online deals of their own.
While many shoppers will gravitate back toward brick-and-mortar post-pandemic, retailers need to deliver thoughtful solutions to meet consumers where they are shopping now and in the future.
Meeting Customers Where They Are
Retailers have a massive opportunity to grow their business with the e-commerce surge by connecting with shoppers online. Those who can best bridge the online and offline shopping journeys will be able to build loyal customer relationships and come out on top.
At Smartly.io, we recently surveyed more than 2,000 consumers around the world. Around half (48%) said the pandemic has made them more open to engage with social media ads, and 51% made a purchase from a social media ad in August.
Not only is social media becoming a part of consumers’ online shopping journey, it is also influencing purchase decisions - this presents a more competitive environment on paid social, and brands need to find new strategies in order to stand out.
Converting Weekly or Monthly Offers Into Social Ads
For large retailers who typically spend advertising dollars driving shoppers in-store, shifting strategies quickly and effectively presents new challenges. We have seen retailers successfully increase reach and build engagement around their e-commerce business by transforming their digital coupons and weekly or monthly flyers into social ads.
According to our study, 45% of consumers would like to see e-commerce brands showcase price offers and sale items in their social media ads, and the same goes for grocery brands.
This strategy is easier said than done, considering 72% of advertisers agree that their social media ad creation and delivery involves manual processes that are often time consuming.
How Smartly.io can help:
Whether retailers want to promote their full weekly flyer, highest margin items, temporary offers or events, Smartly.io’s automation platform allows advertisers to easily create a campaign based on any data source and launch across all of their social media channels.
It’s easy to localize campaigns automatically at scale by connecting a data source containing store-level, zip code or DMA-level pricing. The campaign updates in real-time with a brand’s feed or catalog, so shoppers will always see the correct offers for their local store.
Although consumers now view retailers’ weekly flyers mostly online, it’s important to deliver a consistent customer experience both online and offline. By creating high-quality ads and managing them at scale, retailers can recreate the same look and feel as the flyer with limited manual work. For example, Smartly.io’s Image Templates tool uses conditional rendering to represent different ways to show price: Buy 1, Get 1 Free is usually formatted differently than just a sale price. With our Video Template tools, brands can also create video hero cards and update these videos each week.
Success Story: Serving Fresh Weekly Offers with Digital Circulars
Albert Heijn, the largest and most famous Dutch supermarket chain with more than 1,000 stores in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany, currently utilizes a multi-channel approach to Digital Circulars across Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
The team at Albert Heijn recognized that in order to improve the customer experience, they had to meet consumers where they are today with mobile-friendly content. They wanted to serve their weekly changing offers across their social channels without the manual, error-prone work of updating creatives and campaign weekly.
Together with their agency Dentsu Aegis, Albert Heijn leveraged our Digital Circular solution to add different branding messages to weekly offers, as well as ensure all ads showed up-to-date product information in creatives, resulting in a 26% increase in website traffic.
On Pinterest specifically, the Albert Heijn team is taking a creative approach to Digital Circulars, creating automated campaigns showcasing Allerhande (Albert Heijn’s in-house magazine) and accompanying Albert Heijn product suggestions. As a result, the team has seen a 50% increase in new users to their website.
“With Smartly.io’s Digital Circulars for Pinterest, we were able to create automated campaigns showing Allerhande recipes and Albert Heijn’s product suggestions. Combining these recipes with the right offerings in a visually appealing way. We are excited to pioneer this solution in Europe together with Smartly.io and look forward to innovating this format further.” - Bram Molenaar, Digital Media Specialist, Albert Heijn
Want to learn more about how Albert Heijn is leveraging Smartly.io? Check out the case study here. And, remember to stay tuned for Part 2, where we’ll share creative tips and tricks for standing out on the newsfeed and ensuring your advertising leads to incremental sales.