Easy Omni-Channel Marketing For Independents

Jul 27, 2022

Marketing used to be simpler. 30 years ago, there were four ways to reach a potential shopper: print, direct mail, television, and radio. Now, the internet offers many ways to reach potential shoppers, from advertisements on websites and in eNewsletters to social media posts. And social media alone is complicated: should you be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok? Or all of them?

While customer concerns from the pandemic have decreased, the number of hybrid-shoppers, or customers who grocery shop in-store and online, are rising. Therefore, retailers need to do everything they can to help shoppers before they step foot in the store.

Let’s break down how omni-channel marketing works and how IGA's online and in-store content delivers an "easy button" to help you drive sales and earn net influence, the combination of marketing, information, and media that drives a purchasing decision.

How It Works

Omni-channel marketing is a sales and marketing approach that delivers a full, synergistic—or integrated—shopping experience across many channels. These channels exist anywhere a shopper interacts with your store or brand: the aisle in-store, the digital circular, a social media post, your store website, etc.

“Omni-channel marketing provides a seamless shopping experience regardless of how the shopper chooses to engage with your store,” IGA Senior Manager of Shopper Content Megan Drazer says. In other words, when the experience a shopper has on your website connects to the experience they have in-store, that is omni-channel marketing.

“Not only is this approach good marketing practice, it ensures all of your visual merchandising, social media, etc. is connected and looks cohesive,” says IGA CEO John Ross. “It helps the shopper recognize your brand in multiple places, which makes your IGA store top-of-mind the next time they need to grocery shop.”

The more places a shopper engages with a brand and information related to that brand, the more efficient the brand's marketing becomes, according to Alter Agents Chief Strategy Officer Devora Rogers, who recently co-authored the book Influencing Shopper Decisions: Unleash The Power Of Your Brand To Win Customers. In the book, Rogers dedicates a chapter to net influence, a concept she credits to Ross, which measures what combination of marketing, information, and media actually drives a purchasing decision.

Rogers says she is constantly discovering new media sources that can come in a variety of mediums. "Our understanding of what media is today boils down to information that people use to make an informed decision. Consumers want more information than ever before, because there is more available than ever before."

Media—and the opportunity to share various messaging surrounding our stores—is vast. As digital media becomes increasingly less expensive than print, there are a host of ways to connect with shoppers, including:

  • Text messages
  • Social media
  • Website (your store website and ads on other websites)
  • Email
  • Apps 
  • Customer reviews
  • Podcasts
  • Digital circulars
  • Streaming TV
  • Streaming and broadcast radio

All of this information has become a form of value that shoppers expect from retailers and brands, Rogers says. And while the number of media opportunities may seem overwhelming, IGA has programs to help retailers determine the best places to spend their marketing dollars based on their unique demographics and audience, like the business optimization program.

websites, email, social media, digital circulars and apps, print circulars, podcasts and radio ads, streaming tv, reviews

The Independent's Opportunity To Excel

Ross says the grocery industry sometimes lags as an adopter of new media sources. 

“If you were to tour an average grocery store—other than the information on packaging—where is the information here that makes me feel smart? There’s often not a lot,” Ross says.

But by walking around a store, one can identify several opportunities to provide information that allows the shopper to make an informed decision. 

Signage & Messaging

Throughout the store are opportunities to highlight an independent grocer's points of difference with simple messaging on signage. Calling out small yet personal touches demonstrate everything your store does to serve them, and reminding shoppers of the value they receive by shopping local and cooking at home benefits budgeting shoppers. Here are some examples:

  • "Baked fresh this morning"
  • “Family recipe”
  • "Local favorite"
  • "Charlie's First Choice" (use the department manager's or other employee's name)
  • "Great with chicken" on a white wine
  • "Support local & make your budget count"
  • "Who needs takeout? Make it at home and save!"
  • "Supporting family farmers"
  • List the advantages of fresh cut meat in the meat department

Geissler's Supermarkets uses a variety of ways to get these messages out, from IGA-supplied Local Equals Fresh signage to the digital circular, where CEO Bob Rybick frequently visits local suppliers and posts the videos within the seven stores' digital ad. Shoppers see the video in the digital ad and the products in stores, increasing the likelihood of purchase.


Merge In-Store & Online

The brick-and-mortar store today must bring the digital experience into the physical store, merging that online information-gathering with the in-store shopping experience, as Geissler's is doing in the example above.

“We need to glue together all of these different pieces to create a seamless blend of what happens in store and online,” Ross says. “We’ve had to really step up the game at IGA and make visual merchandising a bigger piece of what we do. And I think we’ve only just got started.”

IGA's Quarterly Marketing Kit helps retailers do that with messaging that focuses on what's on shoppers' minds each quarter, from seasonal produce and holiday dishes to hot topics like inflation and budget-friendly meals. Those themes are represented in signage including hanging banners, aisle blades, and stickers; they also pull through to social media and website graphics and messaging. 

"make it at home and save" text next to a homemade burgerA graphic from the 2022 Q3 Quarterly Marketing Kit reminds inflation-weary shoppers that cooking at home saves money.

Another way to merge in-store shopping with online information gathering? IGA's recipe program. As we saw a few months into the pandemic, cooking fatigue is real. Consumers searched for simple and nutritious recipes to pull them out of their cooking ruts, and who better to offer solutions than their local grocer? Recipe Club helps shoppers' budgets go further with easy recipes and they can buy all the ingredients at their local IGA store (and many recipes include IGA Exclusive Brands private label products for even more savings). 

How Omni-Channel Marketing Drives Sales

IGA creates online content that retailers can use to engage with shoppers, like recipes or shopping tips. When shoppers read or watch that content, it increases their buying confidence and drives more in-store sales. In fact, according to Drazer's research, a shopper who can read online product reviews will spend 40 percent more than a shopper who doesn't have access to reviews. “When shoppers are confident in their choices, they have a better association with your brand,” Drazer says.

The more shoppers interact with an omni-channel marketing campaign, the stronger their association will be with the brand. Take the example of inflation resources for shoppers. Early in the current inflationary period, IGA developed shopper content about how to stretch their grocery budget and offered budget-friendly recipes, like how to make three meals out of one rotisserie chicken. The IGA stores who pushed out this content to their shoppers quickly established themselves as partners in the fight and a trusted resource for food budgeting. Those efforts will build loyalty and drive sales through this inflationary period and beyond.

10 Ways to Stretch Your Grocery Budget

Even better for busy retailers is that IGA’s programs, like the National Digital Ad, eCommerce, and IGA Social programs, all update the content automatically, so this information goes out to their shoppers without the retailer lifting a finger, provided they're on one (or all) of those programs.

What if a retailer is not on these programs or is unbranded? Don't worry; you can still use the content. “All of this content is available to everyone—even if you already have your own established eCommerce solution, this is content that we want you to use,” Drazer says. “It’s great content—don’t miss the opportunity to engage with your shoppers on and off-line.”

Retailers already on IGA's eCommerce program will see recipes updated on their website, allowing shoppers to interact with the content online while they're searching for recipes (see example below). Those shoppers will then add ingredients from the recipe to their shopping list, translating that online content directly into in-store sales. Shoppers will also see these recipes in the National Digital Ad, where they can add the entire ingredient list to their digital shopping list with the click of a button.

eCommerceThe summer fresh salad featured recipe is automatically loaded onto this IGA eCommerce website, courtesy of IGA's eCommerce program.

The very nature of omni-channel marketing is complex, with multiple types of content and channels to share that content, but Drazer assures retailers that IGA is doing the heavy lifting. "We’ve designed it to make it as easy as possible for you," she says. "You just need to take it a little step further by promoting in store, posting about it on your social media channels, and getting it onto your website if it isn’t a site where it’s already being published for you.” 

With the content ready for every retailer to start using now, there's no better time to try omni-channel marketing. Start small—grab a recipe off IGA.com and share it on your store's Facebook page. Want to dive in? Sign up for IGA's eCommerce program or National Digital Ad to have recipes added automatically to your website or digital circular. 

Want to learn more about marketing and shopper decisions? Share a marketing and/or advertising best practice in the form below and you will be entered to win a copy of Influencing Shopper Decisions: Unleash The Power Of Your Brand To Win Customers by Devora Rogers and Rebecca Brooks.


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