When we talk about digital marketing, data analytics, and optimization – we usually think about online businesses or e-commerce stores.

But what about physical retail stores? Are brick & mortar stores still thriving in this digital world? Or has the online commerce taken over its place?

Karan Tyagi, CEO of PeoplExperience, thinks otherwise. In fact, the physical retail market is thriving more than ever. But what’s different is that they are quickly evolving.

PeopleExperience is a marketing solutions company that focuses on easy-to-understand solutions that help businesses drive measurable results. Karan came on board to share with us his experience in growing his company and how he helped many physical retail stores to optimize their data.

Why did you start PeoplExperience and how is it different from other agencies?

Many businesses are looking to transform and build their digital presence, but there seems to be a common problem for the slow adoption of digital solutions. Business owners often don’t engage digital agencies because their services seem too complicated and hard to understand. In that case, most businesses decide to delay their digital marketing efforts.

With PeoplExperience, what we are trying to create is to keep our client’s business at the core, and provide actionable ideas instead of complicated fluff where business owners have trouble understanding. We want to give them a measurable solution so they are able to gain clear visibility on the performance of the campaign and how it brings value to their business.

What do you look for when building your marketing team?

I believe that in this industry, digital solutions do not require rocket science, but rather, it relies a lot on common sense.

What I look for in potential employees is their attitude. Even if you don’t have much technical background but as long as you are hardworking and willing to learn, you will be able to pick up the necessary skills to get the job done well.

Are physical retail stores still relevant in this technology-driven market?

I would say physical retail stores still has its significance and it is here to stay, at least for a few decades.

It is undeniable that e-commerce is growing rapidly, but physical retail stores do have certain values that digital platforms cannot replace as of now. There are still a majority of people who enjoy going to the store to touch and feel the product physically before they purchase it.

The need for physical stores would also be highly dependent on the kind of products you are selling. If it is something that is very experience-based, such as tech products like phones and devices, it will be needed for you to have a store for people to come and test out the product.

However, the mechanics of physical stores may evolve accordingly. Perhaps in the near future, retail stores do not have to store all your available stock, but it serves a purpose as a pop up store where consumers can come in to try out the products, and just by scanning a barcode, they will make the purchase online and the product will be delivered to them.

Ultimately, a brand’s goal should be to get the maximum benefits from whatever medium of sals that they have. Being in a digital fast economy, there is no running away from being digitally present. But if you have a physical store, use it to your advantage and integrate it with whatever digital platforms you have.

How can retail stores evolve to fit better in this technology-driven market?

I think what is often neglected by most retail businesses is the optimization of data. Every company would have readily available data from their consumers, they would just have to use them the right way.

Businesses need to learn to adopt data as if it is a real customer as compared to it just being a number. If you are able to fully utilize your data, you would be able to eventually reduce your marketing and advertising costs. What you are trying to do with optimizing the data, is to target the same person with the same product that they are interested in, at the exact time he wants it.

With data, you are not just blanket advertising and bombarding any person with your ads, to which you won’t be sure if they are even relevant or not. By narrowing down your potential market segment, you would be able to reduce your marketing cost and only spend it on targeting the relevant demographics. 

Catch Karan’s presentation in D/M Summit: Movements: Mapping Physical Retail Opportunities

What are the fundamental factors of a good marketing strategy for retail stores?

It always comes down to what you are trying to achieve at the end of the campaign. But a basic fundamental would be always to make use of the data you have.

For example, if you are a retail cosmetic brand, and you have promoters at your counters to take the customers through the product information etc.

What you can is to take the opportunity to collect their data such as their name, demographics and details as your data. Then utilise these data for your marketing efforts, such as targeting these people online, create campaigns where you can increase their likelihood of becoming returning customers and become loyal to your brand.

What you want to do with your marketing strategy is to optimize data to future-proof your business.

Do you think rebates and discounts work as an effective marketing strategy?

Rebates and discounts are effective strategies if you are looking to move your customers from the lower tiers to the higher ones. This means you are trying to convert them to spend more with your brand and become loyal to your brand.

However, it’s important to note that it doesn’t necessarily have to be a price reduction. This strategy is built on the fact that you want these customers to feel special. Hence, if you have other forms of added value where you can make them feel exclusive, it would work as well.

Let’s do a challenge. Say I am a retail business looking to launch with RM1 Million ad budget. Where and how would you spend it?

Assuming you are looking to increase the traffic into your stores and increase your sales, the first thing you need to do of course is to fix and upgrade your digital platforms like your website and social platforms.

Then, initiate and identify your customer segments. How you can do that is by getting your hands on valuable data. You could start by buying data from third-party providers (Facebook, Google, DSPs, etc.), and start from there.

Digital marketing is not an overnight game. You need to keep testing, learning and explore what works and what does not. Once you find what works, you can keep investing in that direction.

For example, if you buy third party data, identify which are the segments which relate to your brand, and have the potential to increase traffic to your stores. Then work on retargeting and make sure they enjoy their experience and increase their likelihood to spend with you again.

Another factor to your marketing strategy is deciding on the platforms to reach your target audience. I believe that every channel is complementary to one another, you should optimize it to bring an integrated solution.

For example, if you are a fashion brand that is launching, you can direct your marketing strategy to focus on niche platforms. You may not necessarily have to do mass media like TV or newspapers, but rather, stick to digital platforms or even high-end magazines which will increase your chances of reaching the right audience.

What are your thoughts on the future of marketing?

The future of marketing would depend highly on how technology evolves, and how people evolve based on these technologies.

When businesses don’t evolve together with the technology, they risk losing out. We have heard of multi-billion companies shutting down, and one of the key factors is that their business did not evolve together with the advancement of technology.

In marketing, we are talking to real people. And it is people who will change the direction of where technology evolves into.

Another thing that is evolving in the marketing industry is how well-informed consumers are nowadays.

Customer reviews and feedbacks have become really powerful in influencing purchase among your potential customers and should not be underestimated. Despite your marketing efforts as a brand, your messaging is still secondary to the ones made by key opinion leaders in the industry.

With the years of experience in working with various clients, from MNCs to local brands, Karan shares more about how physical retail businesses can optimize data to grow their business and sales. To hear more from his session, join D/M Summit with a lifetime-access pass now.