Retail Fights Back: Lessons for Radio from Brick and Mortar

Despite the massive growth of online shopping, brick and mortar still drives 90% of sales.

That’s right, e-commerce will be just 10% of all U.S. retail in 2018.

That 10% however, represents over $500 billion in sales, so retailers have adopted a radical new strategy to drive in-store foot traffic: “be less annoying.”

After being slow to respond to the convenience of online shopping, retailers from Walmart to Macy’s to Target are not just increasing their e-commerce efforts, but are doubling down on their core business.

With an early Thanksgiving this year, retailers are looking to maximize the 32 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which also includes a rare 5th weekend. This combination along with a strong economy should allow Nov and Dec retail sales to hit $1 TRILLION for the first time.

When it comes to making sure the item is in-stock before leaving your house, much of the guesswork is gone at big box retailers.

Local store inventory is available online along with the location of the product mapped in the store.

Perhaps more significant are “skip the line technologies” where employees at Target, Walmart, Macy’s and other retailers can “help shoppers pay and check out from anywhere in the store.”

In terms of giving people a reason to visit and generating buzz, pop-up shops and local artists making Instagram worthy designs that people will want to photograph and share are elements that can’t be replicated in an online shopping cart.

Other approaches such as in-store exclusives, dedicated events, maximizing the use of available floor space to include waiting areas with comfortable chairs and televisions are all strategies that retailers are bringing to life as they seek to surprise and delight their best customers while “maintaining a laser focus” on their core.


As retailers continue to reinvent the in-store experience, the combination of radio’s employed audience with money to spend and the ability to have air-talent describe first hand how the revamped shopping experience is something that listeners don’t want to miss, creates a tremendous opportunity with an important advertising segment.

In addition to the unrivaled reach that radio delivers these national brands, the audio dominance of AM/FM radio compared to streaming and podcasting remains undeniable.

The opportunity to “be less annoying” is something that also applies to AM/FM radio. While many people focus on high spot loads, when it comes to user experience, a strong case can also be made for improvement in other areas.

On-air promotional inventory is regularly utilized to highlight smart speaker skills as a way to interact with the station, even though the actual skill being promoted doesn’t work as described or take you to the station stream.

Radio’s ability to get listeners to hear a message and take action is essential to our business model. Anything that risks undermining our credibility, especially in an emerging area as important as voice, should be carefully examined.

There’s a great opportunity to re-imagine station remotes, starting with the name. Instead of having a couple of hung over interns sitting under a tent, spinning the prize wheel, radio could borrow the retail concept of a pop-up location and breathe new life to station appearances, especially in Hot ZIPs.

Request lines and questions on social media that go unanswered are all begging for radio to follow retail’s lead and “be less annoying.”

As Rolling Stone recently reported, album sales (across download, CD and vinyl) are in a tailspin that only appears to be accelerating. Presumably, this will continue to drive streaming royalties and limit the ability of pure-plays to turn a profit.

In the midst of cord cutting, misdeeds by social media platforms and brand safety concerns, AM/FM radio has the opportunity to grow revenue and demonstrate leadership as audio’s biggest and most profitable platform.

As you look ahead to 2019, there’s a great opportunity to revisit your approach to the fundamentals and maintain a laser focus on those employed listeners who matter most to your ratings and revenue.

On behalf of Catherine Jung, Doug Smith and everyone here at DMR/Interactive, thanks for your work to drive radio forward and Happy Holidays.

Andrew Curran, President and COO

One Response to Retail Fights Back: Lessons for Radio from Brick and Mortar

  1. […] In addition, retailers and brands are able to see how various consumer segments and demographics behave and prioritize their efforts accordingly. Despite curbside pickup and online retail generating headlines and robust growth, 90% of retail is still brick and mortar. […]

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