What POS opportunities will arise from the die-back of retail space?
Here’s a thought: if the high street is slowly changing its purpose, where are the brands going to live?
Debenhams and Gap have both left the high street in the last few months – under different circumstances but just this fact speaks volumes. And it seems like a good time to talk about innovative uses of POS in grocery retail environments: supermarkets.
While we don’t have a cut-and-dried solution – it’s a tricky one and out of our control, certainly – but the opportunity is there and so perhaps we should discuss it.
“Where are the brands going to live?”
The Local Data Company published (see Property Week) stats that showed the number of new grocery stores in the UK doubled during 2020 from 2019 (0.7% versus 1.4%). This meant 186 new supermarkets, with the vast majority belonging to Lidl and Aldi.
Conversely, PwC reported “a record net decline” of 9,877 chain stores, which equates to an average of 48 stores closing every day in 2020.
High street vs online estates
Obviously, there’s hardly a brand around that doesn’t have at least one online channel – usually a website of their own. Plus, they’ll likely have more routes to market – both high street and digitally, like an Amazon Business channel and partner retailers like John Lewis and Selfridges.
Is it enough? Can e-commerce and online engagement ever completely satisfy our customers?
“Brands are losing in-person opportunities to be seen”
With high street department stores, smaller brand chains and independent retailers losing or giving up their high street estates, online is winning by default.
Online real estate is cheaper than renting, buying and maintaining a physical store. But let’s put this another way: brands are losing in-person opportunities to be seen.
Leveraging the supermarket estate
Here’s the idea: what if supermarkets advertised brands they don’t sell?
Many brands already have supermarket partners who sell selected products in-store. The supermarket uses promotional marketing and POS creatively and effectively to encourage these sales. Customers like the range and variety of products in a convenient location. Everybody wins.
Supermarkets have vast, vast estates. There’s hardly a space in-store (and in the car park) that can’t be used for POS.
“What if supermarkets advertised brands they don’t sell?”
In theory, brands that supermarkets don’t sell could hire in-store visibility space – like advertising space. These spaces have the traffic volumes to make it worthwhile for brands to get in front of visitors who have their purses and wallets in their hands.
From POS to sampling and experiential marketing
For brands, the beauty of this idea is that POS isn’t just about shelf wobblers, banners and posters. It’s also for floor space, loo doors, barriers and windows and free-standing A-boards. It doesn’t offer limitless possibilities, but it has extensive potential.
POS doesn’t end there, either. Part of the power of having the customer in front of you is the opportunity to let them sample and experience your product. Possibly with the help of a branded stand or booth.
The integrity of the marketing mix
Some experts say it takes seven interactions with your brand before a customer decides to purchase. Some say it’s 11.
Whatever the number, the marketing mix is an accepted practice. One of its philosophies is that a potential customer sees or interacts with your brand or product in a range of different environments.
“One thing that the high street has always trumped e-commerce on is the experience of the product”
As the high street declines, it means access to one of these traditional channels is dying off. It’s also important to note that one thing that the high street has always trumped e-commerce on is the experience of the product – trying on the clothes, smelling the aftershave, tasting the chocolates.
(E-commerce does have a few tricks up its sleeve and opportunities developing, though. We wrote a separate article about promotional marketing on this topic.)
Something has to happen, one way or another. Brands need the physical real estate; supermarkets have it – so it’s a neat, symbiotic solution to get together.
There are undoubtedly many other alternatives, one of which is that we all just resign ourselves to giving Google all our money.
The downside of selling more ad space would risk making supermarkets – already filled with hard-working brands vying for attention – would become too visually noisy for customers.
It’s conceivable that this might lead to advert-blindness, or a sense of overpowering sales tactics and corresponding decline in footfall.
This is where POS can take a leap, too. In a new landscape filled with possibility, you have to innovate and do things differently.
If you’d like to explore creative and exciting promotional marketing and POS ideas, get in touch for a no-pressure chat.
Photo of Glasgow high street shopping by Artur Kraft on Unsplash