In the midst of retail’s identity crisis, brands continue to search for ways to increase foot traffic into brick-and-mortar stores. Companies such as Retale, which describes itself as a “technology company that develops mobile-first shopping experiences,” encourages consumers to shop in-store. Retale’s portfolio of products and services reach 26 million mobile users every month across 200 countries. The firm is part of the Bonial.com Group.
Christian Gaiser, chief executive officer and founder of the Bonial.com Group, is also an angel investor for more than 15 companies throughout the U.S. and Europe. He has worked for Goldman Sachs Private Equity in London, McKinsey & Co. in Vienna and Zurich, the Monitor Group/Ermgassen & Co. in London and at SAP Investor Relations in Walldorf.
Here, Gaiser shares his insights about consumer and mobile engagement and effective strategies for drawing shoppers back into brick-and-mortar spaces.
WWD: How has Retale increased foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores?
Christian Gaiser: To understand our platform, it’s important to understand what the average shopping experience looks like today. Shoppers are constantly using their smartphones to research and visit stores. Mobile devices are basically the new personal shopping assistant, influencing every stage of the shopping journey, from pre-trip planning, to in-store research, to post-trip brand-consumer communications. So, we built the app to help retailers be successful in this more mobile and omnichannel marketing environment, where a third of all in-store purchases are influenced by mobile.
Retale connects the dots between mobile and store by delivering the content that our highly motivated users want to see, when they want to see it. This content is personalized to each user based on their location and selected favorites, to make sure they have all the information they need during each stage of their shopping journey — driving store visits and sales.
We’ve boosted traffic across our retailer partners by an average of 116 percent, while also increasing conversion and growing basket size. This is why more than 5,200 of the world’s top retailers — including J.C. Penney, Target, Rite Aid, Macy’s and Meijer — partner with us.
WWD: According to Retale, consumers who engage with content from department stores make two times more store trips than those who don’t. Why?
C.G.: Standout measurement comes down to having the right approach to data and the right tools in place. We use first-party data to track store lift through a Nielsen-approved methodology and partner with third-party attribution providers, such as Placed, for a fuller view. This allows us to see specific insights and identify key trends.
When speaking about why our engagement results are so robust, and why we outperform other digital marketing channels — not just mobile, but in general — the answer is that we have been able to cultivate a large audience of high-intent users from around the world. We have access to more than 26 million in-market shoppers who are actively looking for deals and coupons.
WWD: Why is location-based custom advertising the best method for retailers to communicate with their customers?
C.G.: Why location-based advertising works so well is because of how intertwined location and mobile shopping have become. Given the “on-the-go” nature of mobile, more and more shopping decisions are occurring here, driven by what deals and coupons are available in a user’s immediate area — whether a user is in the store or outside of it. This realization has been key to our success, and serving location-based content and deals from in-area stores in innovative ways — such as geo-fenced push notifications and more – is now baked throughout all of our product offerings.
WWD: Is there content beyond coupons and deals that retailers can use to engage consumers via mobile?
C.G.: We’ve found that the most powerful content tells a story and inspires shoppers. Deals and coupons are definitely important, but in order to be the most impactful, content needs to show off product features and why they’re relevant to the consumer. The more you can enrich that content by making it interactive, including links to web sites and with video, the more shoppers will be engaged. You must provide information that shoppers want and find valuable, not that they portray as advertising.
WWD: How will the business circulars evolve as mobile shopping and engagement grows exponentially?
C.G.: Circulars have traditionally been the top driver of store traffic and sales; and the mobile revolution has made them even more powerful. Retailers can now personalize the experience based on individual preferences, shopping behaviors and location. So great products and compelling deals will still power the experience, but retailers can now leverage data to make sure users get the most relevant experience tailored for them.
Another evolution is real-time product offers. In the past, once something was printed, it was forever. But with mobile technology, retailers can update their circular assortment almost instantaneously based on real-time learnings and business needs.
Lastly, I expect to see stronger omnichannel integration. Previously, circulars were planned with an in-store first mentality; however, with circular distribution moving to mobile, and the ability to integrate each offer with e-commerce, retailers will plan the assortments with both off-line and online in mind.