Shop Smarter: How Retail Tech PR Can Help Vendors Cut Through The Noise
By Emily McCormack, Senior Account Executive
The last few years have been a period of intense challenge and rapid change for the retail sector. Lockdowns placed many retailers under unprecedented financial pressure, whilst also forcing them to adapt to a huge surge in online sales. In the aftermath of the pandemic, global unrest has put pressure on supply chains, whilst the cost of living crisis has reduced consumer spending and made the market ever more difficult.
In this environment, many retailers will be tempted to cut spending, and put off digital transformation or technical projects. However, this can be a huge mistake. In a competitive market, it’s more important than ever for retailers to be able to evolve and offer consumers the best possible experiences, and these days technology plays a key role in this. Whether it’s implementing an order management system, updating their website or offering AI-driven recommendations, the latest tech can be a key differentiator.
The challenge for vendors offering retail technology is how to communicate these benefits to their potential customers. That’s where retail tech PR comes in. PR can be a vital strategy for illuminating the ways in which a vendor’s technology can bring direct business benefits. This blog will outline exactly what retail tech PR is, the benefits it brings, and how success can be defined.
Understanding retail tech PR
Retail tech is a huge sector, covering all of the technology used by retailers to manage and optimise their operations. Examples include POS software, inventory management, and digital platforms. It is a vital part of powering ecommerce, and can elevate the key processes that drive sales, as well as offering exciting and immersive experiences such as virtual try-on experiences or tailored recommendations.
Retail tech PR, therefore, is any public relations activity designed to raise awareness of retail tech, and the vendors who sell it. It is usually aimed at retail businesses and aims to cut through the noise and make clear the benefits that a particular product will bring. It can take a variety of forms, and involve a combination of press releases, thought leadership, trade show appearances, research, case studies, interviews and more.
One key challenge for retail tech PR can be that the media landscape is reasonably small in the UK. However, by diversifying activity and building strong relationships with the key publications, it is possible to make a PR splash.
A focus on consumer benefits
In B2B PR, there’s often a sense of remove from the eventual end user, with the main focus being on the initial business customer. However, in retail technology PR in particular, a vital part of the strategy is to make it clear to retailers exactly how the technology they may be investing in will shape and change the customer experience, in a way that will enable the brand to stand out, attract new customers and retain existing ones.
This may be through publishing research, which can demonstrate the consumer need for a particular product. For example, if a survey reveals that customers are put off by inaccurate sizing when buying online, it provides the perfect backdrop for a story about new virtual try-on experiences. Equally, vendors may be able to work with retailers to create a showcase of their tech, in order to generate positive publicity for both businesses. For example, L’Oreal recently offered augmented reality-powered makeup try-on experiences, delivered in collaboration with Facebook. Experiences like this also further cement the relationship between vendor and retailer, as the vendor tech is crucial in generating the positive consumer momentum for the brand.
Measuring the impact: retail tech PR KPIs explained
As with all PR campaigns, it’s important to be able to define success, and monitor it during as well as after the campaign. This allows you to adjust the strategy if it’s not cutting through, and also to demonstrate the value of the activity for any stakeholders involved.
So how exactly can you measure success when it comes to PR? It’s always best to use a variety of different metrics, in order to create a holistic view of how well the campaign is doing. These can include some straightforward statistics, such as the number of pieces of coverage secured or the number of awards entered and won. Brand awareness should also be measured in some way, perhaps through share of voice or research surveys. Other valuable metrics can include customer engagement with PR output, and feedback from sales teams in key regions.
Fluent Commerce: how effective retail tech PR yielded awareness
At Touchdown, we have plenty of experience with retail tech PR to draw from. For example, we worked with Fluent Commerce, a provider of cloud-native order and inventory management platform used by global retail brands, in order to help it increase its brand awareness.
Touchdown helped promote a steady pipeline of news announcements, commentary on relevant issues, interviews and thought leadership to push out Fluent Commerce’s message and educate the market about its brand. We tracked the news cycle closely for relevant stories, and worked closely with Fluent Commerce’s key experts to provide relevant expert commentary, generating coverage in key publications, including The Sun.
In both 2021 and 2022 Touchdown also created a multi-region research campaign, a Holiday Shopping Survey which explored changing shopping habits ahead of the Christmas season, and was used by many journalists as they were reporting on retail news throughout the season. In its entirety, our Fluent Commerce case study showcases the multi-faceted impact that retail tech PR can have when deployed strategically.
Retail tech PR remains an exciting area, with new topics and new technologies constantly emerging. From sustainability to AI and virtual reality, there are countless stories that retail technology vendors can tell – and PR is a key strategy to enable them to tell that story to the people who matter.
Touchdown PR can help your retail tech business deliver its message to your key markets and stand out from your competitors. To find out more about our services, check out our client case studies, or contact us.