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Think Uber Disrupted the Taxi Industry? Check out how Locally is Disrupting Specialty Outdoor Retail in a Revolutionary Way!

July 25, 2017

Listen to episode 4 here!

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A few years, an audacious startup named Uber disrupted a legacy industry. It wasn’t just that Uber capitalized on the emerging “sharing” economy. It wasn’t even that the taxi industry was in particular disarray.

Mike Massey, founder of Locally.com and recent guest on the Channel Mastery podcast episode 4 got right to the heart of why Uber succeeded. “Consumers are married to their devices (with specific reference to mobile phones),” explained Massey. “Uber’s most elegant (solution) was to cover everything in one app.”

Uber put the consumer first. It provided a solution that worked well with the way consumers live their lives – on their devices. It took away friction and gave the consumers a sense of control over what had become a commodity (and often crappy) experience – hailing and riding in a cab.

Consumers felt freedom and choice around transportation that they hadn’t before, which inspired palpable loyalty. All of this came from Uber’s founding vision of digitizing the analog experience of hailing a cab. Uber addressed the full taxi experience to satisfy all the needs and desires of the consumer “journey” in one place, and from the convenience of a mobile phone.

This is essentially what Massey, who is also a third generation owner of Massey’s Outfitters (a chain of four, physical outdoor specialty retail stores based in New Orleans), is doing for retailers with Locally (www.locally.com).

“It’s amazing that right now you can use your phone to get somebody to come pick you up in their car, you can book a hotel in another city, you can get a table at a nearby restaurant, you can get movie tickets, concert tickets,” Massey said. “But for the most part, you still can’t put something on hold at a local store.

“That’s the last mile that we’re building.”

The “Last Mile” is a key concept in the battlefield of attention that is end-consumer engagement. We’ll be addressing it in more depth below.

 

Selling is Not a Zero-Sum Game

Paraphrasing the tagline, Locally is a way for consumers to shop locally, and connect online to premium brands and in-stock products at their favorite local shops.

Massey launched the site in 2013 with the collaborative input of 12 other industry colleagues (reps and retailers). By the time a customer enters a store, many are already invested in their research, decision-making and buying experience. All of that occurs on their devices.

Locally was created to provide online solutions for retailers while also satisfying brands’ needs. The consumer is always at the center of this equation. Whether they come for research, to check availability or to compare prices, consumers drive the content needs and the experience. “We let them decide, for each purchase, what’s going to be the best solution for [their needs] right now,” says Massey.

He’s designed Locally to encourage the end consumer to drive.

The operating mantra of Locally is “win-win,” based on the reality that retail is not – and does not need to be – a zero-sum game between brands and retailers. With that in mind, here are some highlights from my interview with Mike Massey.

Implementing Calls to Action

A Win for Consumers, Retailers, Brands

Massey had an “a-ha” moment after Locally had been live for some time. The site underwent a significant redesign in spring 2017, and has taken off since then in outdoors and other retail sectors.

The turning point wasn’t a technological breakthrough – though, there are those, too. It was adding a few simple words to the consumer’s experience on Locally.

“We determined that the most important thing for us was to put a call to action in front of all the information systems we were building,” explains Massey.

“(Originally), we were informing customers where they could buy stuff, but we really weren’t giving them the final piece of the e-commerce funnel – or the ecommerce tactic – which was: what can I do here?” says Massey. “Without having that final piece, we were basically sending that shopper over to continue their search on another website.”

The call to action made all the difference. And contrary to what we may expect, many of these calls to action require actual effort on the part of the customer. They’re not always clicking “buy now” and waiting for UPS. They are making the choices to buy locally, to drive to the store and to pick up their goods. Convenience is a bonus, but today’s consumers also value community and the gratification of same-day access.

The Last Mile

A Win for Retailers, Consumers

The calls to action were a huge piece of the puzzle toward solving the last mile conundrum that Massey referred to earlier. The last mile concept explores how to unify the experience of going from online research to in-store shopping, pick-up or local delivery. Effectively, the last mile covers the critically-important transition from engagement to conversion. It’s about sales.

This concept of the “last mile” was my own “a-ha” moment. It’s the interaction of the digital and analog shopping experience. It’s how to keep local stores relevant through end-consumer consideration and empathy. It’s another key way to serve the end consumer, which is what the game’s about today.

Amazon’s (and other competitor’s) two-day free shipping is one of the behemoth’s strongest selling points. The convenience and quick turnaround is the appeal.

Ultimately, closing the last mile lies in achieving a comparable level of convenience and turnaround. Locally has made great strides in shortening that metaphorical distance, and Massey is still hard at work. It is absolutely a top tier goal to find more and better solutions for unifying the online and offline worlds.

I would add that local retailers have an under-rated competitive edge, even against Goliaths like Amazon. Convenience may be king, but consumers today highly value customized experiences and independent businesses. Great retailers serve and are masterful with reciprocity because of how they serve.

Retailers using the “buy now, pick up in store” option on Locally, should be creative and remarkable in how they go the last mile for the end consumer. Make sure that the consumer’s experience at pick up is exceptional and uniquely true to the brand that is your retail store.

Data Collection

A Win for Sales Reps, Brands, Retailers

“The amount of data that we’re collecting on a daily basis is preposterous,” says Massey.

Data is your friend now, and it will be your absolute bestie going forward in your business. Do not be afraid of data! Many of the conclusions drawn from data are as clear as day. You don’t need a PhD in statistical analysis to interpret it and incorporate the inherent lessons into your buying, sales and marketing strategies. Data gives you insight into what people want. And that’s why we’re here, to give our target end consumers what they want.

Locally collects data based on geography, category, item and more. Even better, the platform makes this information actionable for retailers and brands alike. It can determine what’s trending across the country, down to the city level. It can tell you which sunglasses are most searched for and most purchased.

As a retailer, the data helps shape informed purchasing and promotion decisions. Locally can help determine how retailers display their pages to prioritize what consumers are searching for. Unsure which rain jacket to stock? Locally can tell you which jackets are generating the most interest in your area.

For sales reps or brand representatives on Locally, data can determine the best sellers and top categories in each city. You can present your key accounts with objective assessments of not only what they’re selling successfully, but also which categories and items they’re missing.

Massey argues that cooperation and collaboration between brands and retailer is more important than ever. This is also something that NPD Sports Analyst Matt Powell (episode 2 of the Channel Mastery podcast) also emphasized.

Retailers dragging their feet on developing an online presence are putting their heads in the sand about how consumers shop right now. Brands eager to go fully D2C aren’t taking advantage of one of the biggest strengths of local retailers, a place to actually provide a “last mile” experience.

Channels are not static nor are they swim lanes. They’re living, breathing experiences that incorporate each other when the consumer engages with them throughout their research journey.

While collaboration is key as we all forge forward, it’s still important for every business to develop their proprietary multi-channel strategies and to build these strategies specifically for the end consumer that’s in the crosshairs.

For more thoughts on how any operation – but especially retailers – can up-level its digital presence, check out the bonus content for Episode 4 of the Channel Mastery podcast: Mike’s Massey Top Five Tips for Retailers to Up-Level Their Digital Presence.

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For passion brands in the outdoor active lifestyle markets, wholesale will remain a crucially important channel.

The retail/brand power struggle has been real over the years, but today, true strength comes from working together to serve a shared consumer profile.

It’s fitting that Massey’s episode is airing this week, during Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2017.

Astute retail buyers should be highly selective about what brands and products become ingredients to the experience the store offers its target end consumer.

Brands should be selective about what retailers to partner with for the same reasoning. There should be a shared consumer profile and, the retailer should be additive to the brand experience that’s being offered to that target end consumer.

Retailer success is brand success (and vice versa) when it comes to the holy grail we’re after together: Providing your absolute target end consumer an exceptional experience across multiple channels.

 

 

 

 

Verde Strategy guides businesses and brands to build and scale multi-channel businesses that are profitable, sustainable and consumer-centric. We offer strategic consulting, as well as resources and training, in our Channel Mastery content opportunity. Our support is built for passion brands, incorporates all facets of leadership within your organization and builds in qualitative and quantitative approaches for sustained success and expansion. If you’re interested in learning more about our services, email me: kco@verdepr.com.