2013: Clicks and Mortar

Storefront Residencies for Social Innovation
Image by CRUSTINA!

The big digital media shift in 2013 has little to do with new mobile applications or social networks. Rather, it revolves around how brick and mortar businesses — and in particular stores and entertainment venues — integrate social into their physical brand experiences.

Some folks dub this trend Clicks and Mortar, the integration of online into our everyday physical whereabouts.

Recently, I attended the Ivy League Sports Symposium, and, whether it was MLB or the Tough Mudder franchise, everyone was talking about the live fan experience from a participation perspective. For example, new stadiums are developed with incredibly robust wifi networks for in game experiences.

The trend extends well beyond sports.

Burberry recently invested significant dollars to bring their online experience into its flagship London store. The effort includes some creative use of RFID chips to show video content about clothes that have been brought into changing rooms.

Business owners realize the rise of smartphones and tablets has wrought a new revolution in marketing. People can explore products and experiences on the go wherever they are.

Smart store owners and entertainment venues will seek to cater to the wired customer on site. That includes making inventories available on the web, providing great wireless access in venue, offering connected flat screens that amplify what customers are saying about the experience, and of course, the increasingly popular mobile deals that have become prevalent on networks like Foursquare and to some extent Facebook.

In-store interactions represent a huge opportunity for business owners. Whether they offer in-store deals, easy-to-access peer reviews or customer service, live on-site digital interaction can make or break new transactions.

As 2013 progresses and stores ready for next year’s holiday rush, the innovators — both local and forward-thinking chains — will move to encourage in-store interactions. Similarly entertainment venues will add additional content engagement and feedback loops to extend and better their live experience.

The pervasive Internet will expand, making live experiences a balance of clicks and mortar.

What do you think the big online marketing trend will be for 2013?