Emerging Trends: Retail Media for Physical Space

In recent years we have seen many emerging trends in the retail space. Although there has certainly been a focus on the shift of physical retail to e-commerce, the retail space itself has also found itself adapting rapidly to adjust to new market forces.

In recent years we have seen many emerging trends in the retail space. Although there has certainly been a focus on the shift of physical retail to e-commerce, the retail space itself has also found itself adapting rapidly to adjust to new market forces.
Underground Apple Store in Taipei, Taiwan - Image credits: unsplash.com/@havephonewilltravel

There is no denying that physical stores have been put under pressure by the shift towards online shopping. But it is those businesses that understand the psychology of their customers and the fact that many of them still want a great, in-store experience that will both survive and thrive this shift.

In the coming years, forward-thinking retailers will focus on developing retail media in their physical spaces. We explore these trends further in this article.

What is Retail Media?

Retail media can come in many forms. Its most basic definition may be described as advertising or marketing to a consumer at or near the point of purchase. Therefore, retail media can be applied at any point where the purchase is made, ranging from online shops to physical retail stores.

Unlike traditional forms of media where marketing is delivered at a separate location such as a social media platform or bus ad, retail media is delivered at the point at which the retails is physically happening.

For example, sponsored listings on Amazon could be considered as retail media. Similarly, in-store posters promoting other products for sale could also be labeled as retail media.

In this article, we will focus on the emerging trend of using retail media in physical spaces and how businesses can leverage this trend to engage their audience and ultimately sell more.

Types of Physical Retail Media & How to Use Them

Before digital, retail media was exclusively applied in physical spaces. In more recent years, media in the physical space has taken on a new lease of life due to shifts in consumer behavior and developments in technology.

Below we outline some of the types of physical retail media that are currently increasing in popularity and how these can be applied successfully in various situations.

Pop-up Shops

Of course, we have to start this list off by mentioning pop-up shops.

Using pop-ups can help generate a huge buzz, especially when you are promoting a specific product or service. For example, a brand that sells scientific calculators may decide to promote a "back to school" range by securing a pop-up space in a large stationery store at the relevant time of year.

Doing this allows them to tap into a highly relevant audience as well as their ready-to-buy nature. Not only does hosting a pop-up shop in this scenario help the band generate direct sales, but it is also a powerful brand-building exercise to support the brand’s mission to be the "go-to calculator for school-goers".

Customer Experiences

Creating fully immersive customer experiences is another great way to deliver retail media on a physical premise. These experiences could be one-off events such as displays or demonstrations of new products.

Alternatively, customer experience can be built into how a retail space operates on a day-to-day basis. For example, British brand Lush creates a highly engaging customer experience in all their stores by training their staff to talk to customers and demonstrate products that may be of interest. The new Lush Oxford Street flagship store goes even further. The concept store features an in-store florist, a sushi-style conveyor belt of bath bombs and bubble bars, and offers a range of experiences, including skin, hair and make-up consultations.

This approach turns the products themselves into living media which can be used to attract customers and encourage them to buy.

You may also use retail media as a way to improve customer experience. For example, you may place QR codes next to products as a quick way for people to find out more or even to engage a customer representative.

Point of Sale

Point of sale marketing and advertising refers to any messaging which is communicated at the point of sale. Physical stores have always used point of sale marketing in some way, shape, or form. Traditionally these may have ranged from in-store posters and pop-up banners to upselling by knowledgeable staff and attention-grabbing window displays.

However, as technology develops, so to have the tools that physical retail premises can use to market their products and services at the point of sale. Many smart retailers are now combining digital and online tools with physical locations to promote products.

One good example of this was Amazon recognizing the power of online reviews and displaying them at the point of sale in their physical book shops. H&M has also adopted useful technology to reduce the friction with voice activated mirrors which use AI to invite shoppers to take a selfie and suggest fashion inspirations and styling recommendations based on their preferences.

Product Collaborations

Collaborations on products or product ranges are a smart way to combine digital and physical media into one space. Typically, product collaboration works between brands and celebrities or influencers.

Although celebrity collaborations are still common, influencer collaborations are also now being used in the same way to combine physical retail and digital media.

One example of this is UK-based influencer Mrs. Hinch and her collaboration with Tescos supermarket. The range of homeware products was a natural fit given Mrs. Hinch’s niche and allowed seamless promotion across social media through influencer marketing and in-store with retail media.

Taking an Omnichannel Approach

Retail media for physical stores will continue to grow in the coming years. However, to get the most out of the methods we have highlighted in this article, smart marketers will include them as part of an omnichannel approach.

Unlike multichannel marketing which focuses on multiple methods of delivering a message, omnichannel marketing goes one step further by introducing the levels of personalization that consumers are increasingly coming to expect.

Written by POP UP SHOPS - July 9, 2021
Related article: Reimagining Pop-Up Shops Post-Covid

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