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How to Keep Your Brand Shining Bright in a Cluttered Retail World

PAUL PULLOUT BOX ONEWolverine Worldwide – owner of Caterpillar Footwear, Chaco, Keds, Saucony, and Wolverine itself – made news a few days ago when it announced plans to shutter 140 stores over the next 18 months. Most of the affected will be Stride Rite stores. The company announced that it will also consolidate operations, restructure field support teams, and find ways to “realize further synergies.” Wolverine isn’t making those changes because of falling profits. In fact, the company reported a second-quarter 2014 revenue of $613.5 million, an increase of 4.4% from last year. And Wolverine was already operating efficiently. Operating expenses in the quarter were $196.7 million, 3.6% less than last year. So what we have in Wolverine is a company that is behaving proactively, by looking ahead and making changes today that will benefit the company and its brands tomorrow.

How Smart Brands Anticipate Marketplace Changes

Because brands and selling are issues that always come first at Promoboxx, the changes at Wolverine make me wonder, “what about the brands?” When customers walk into a Stride Rite store today, they find Stride Rite products there. If they go into a store that carries lots of different brands next year, how will the Stride-Rite brand differentiate itself, make sales, and succeed and survive? That question is important for retailers that carry their own brands exclusively or almost exclusively – stores as diverse as Penzeys Spices, Brooks Brothers, and Trader Joe’s. But it is also important for every brand that wants to differentiate itself and grow in today’s complex retail world.

Powerful Branding Strategies for 2014 and Beyond

“2014 Outlook on Retail,” an interview with Alison Kenney Paul on the Deloitte website, provides forward-thinking answers to the question of how brands can stand out and succeed in an increasingly complex and cluttered retail world. Here is a summary of only a few of the insights from Paul, who is vice chairman and U.S. Retail and Distribution leader at Deloitte LLP:

  • Give shoppers a multi-channel experience. Paul notes that it is imperative to communicate directly to customers because 60% of shoppers now feel they understand a store’s products better than store associates do. Yet she notes that many stores continue to rely on mass advertising instead of engaging in digital shopper marketing.
  • Predict future purchases. It is important to not only gather lots of customer data, but to analyze it, predict what customers will buy next, and then deliver content that drives that sale.
  • Analyze store activity. Paul states that it will soon be critical for retailers to implement systems that gather data on what is actually taking place in their stores — where shoppers go, how the placement of items on shelves affects product choices, and more. Paul states, “This dynamic, integrated view actually has a name — the `Internet of Things’ (IoT) — and it gives retailers the opportunity to connect dots across each of the customer touch points.”PAUL PULLOUT BOX TWO
  • Create a vibrant, engaging buying experience. Brick-and-mortar retailers must find ways to be as exciting as online retailers, which drive the decision to buy with augmented reality (AR) apps, flash sales and other compelling tactics. Successful stores can compete by using endless aisle layouts, virtual storefronts, point-of-sale (POS) systems, smart shelves, and Wi-Fi hot spots.
  • Extend your brand and sell more internationally. Even in a time when growth is flat in some U.S. sectors, consider selling more in other countries where middle to upper-class populations are growing quickly.

When Shoppers Seek, They Should Find Your Brand

That’s the bottom line. When a shopper is in a store and your products are there too, it is tragic if they do not connect and no purchase is made. Thankfully, we live in a time when new digital tools are arriving almost daily that can help assure that that connection and that sale really happen.