With the successful global rollout of vaccines and a subsequent steady decline in positive cases, it appears that the worst that the COVID-19 global pandemic had to offer is finally behind us. As a result, communities in countries the world over continue to remove social restrictions and protocols, allowing people to once again commune and for retailers and other businesses to begin approaching a return to full operations and the recommencement of the experiences they offer customers. As they do, they’ll be adjusting to a new normal, one that sees an entrenched omnichannel, or channel-agnostic, consumer at the heart of everything, and a need for merchants to accelerate their stores’ digital capabilities in order to keep up with their evolving and connected behaviour. To help small businesses compete in the increasingly digitized world, GetintheLoop – Canada’s largest shop local community – has been providing an easy and effective way to digitally attract and retain local customers for more than seven years. And, it’s community just became that much bigger with the announcement of its partnership with BenefitHub – the world’s largest employee lifestyle benefits company.
Expansion and strengthened position
Expanding initially into the United States, the partnership allows GetintheLoop access to BenefitHub’s 17 million global members, 10 million of which are located in the US. And, with plans to launch its innovative SaaS franchise in Nevada and Arizona this month, followed by what Matt Crowell, the company’s Founder and CEO, describes as “rapid and sprawling expansion” throughout the rest of the country, GetintheLoop is poised to play a critical role in the reopening of retail, complementing business’ omnichannel strategies. And, as Crowell points out, the partnership also helps to strengthen the company’s position even further, enabling it to help small businesses realize opportunities around a heightened desire among consumers to shop local and provide the digital tools necessary to connect and engage with them.
“In many ways, the pandemic has had a double-edged effect,” he says. “The pressures that came with it accelerated a number of trends that were already in play, and in turn forced a lot of innovation among retailers and other businesses. It resulted in an amazing show of resilience within the industry and a will to continue growing. While some businesses did not manage to survive, there are others that have only become stronger. They’ve done so by getting closer to the customer and developing a clearer understanding of the ways they are shopping today and aligning their offering to those behaviours. And people are showing a real appetite to shop local and find ways to support their community merchants. When the pandemic first hit, engagement within our app increased significantly, highlighting heightened consumer sentiment around connecting with local businesses.”
Innovative platform and service
One of the most innovative digital tools available for retailers today, GetintheLoop complements digital offerings, supporting marketing and communications goals while driving increased engagement and sales. Serving as a platform to showcase content, promotions, special offers, incentives and rewards, it provides an easy-to-use solution for any business, with simple and seamless integration. In addition, GetintheLoop’s technology also generates useful analytics, informing retailer strategies concerning current and future marketing campaigns and offers. And, helping guide businesses through the data is a dedicated centralized support team that works with clients on a monthly basis, assisting in the execution of campaigns and increasing customer attraction and retention via digital means. Available as an app for consumers to download via the App Store and Google Play, it facilitates connections to their favourite brands, providing them with ever-expanding ways to explore, discover and shop within their local communities. And, as Crowell explains, the company’s partnership with BenefitHub allows it to help more businesses in more communities reach even more customers.
“This partnership means that GetintheLoop now has a truly national audience on both sides of the border, providing merchants with access to a huge pool of potential customers,” he says. “And, as retailers everywhere are focused on rebuilding and growing post-pandemic, our platform can really help accelerate business’ achievements with respect to their goals and objectives. Because our technology is affordable for any-sized business to adopt and implement, it’s allowing ‘Joe’s Coffee Shop’ access to the same software that the large multinationals use to market. And, because local businesses using our platform get to work with our centralized support team and local franchisee, the playing field is leveled even further through the availability of marketing resources, insights and ideas.”
Crowell recognizes that with the pandemic came an accelerated shift in consumer behaviour toward online purchases. And, although borne originally out of necessity, it seems as though the surge in ecommerce that the industry experienced with the onset of lockdowns and social restrictions is not likely to recede too dramatically in a post-pandemic environment. Combined with pent-up demand among people everywhere to explore, rediscover their neighbourhoods and enjoy exciting experiences, the past 18 months have yielded an entrenched omnichannel consumer who is going to shop and engage with brands in the ways they choose. It’s up to retailers to ensure that they present the means by which to do so. And, according to Crowell, it’s yet another way in which GetintheLoop helps bolster the offering of local businesses.
“Our platform and the services we provide can be a really crucial piece supporting the digital transformation that many retailers are currently undergoing, especially for the smaller operations” he asserts. “A true omnichannel offering is really hard to build. GetintheLoop allows retailers to automatically achieve this, connecting them to a local email database, push notifications, a social profile and a mobile app. As soon as a business signs up with us they’re cross-functional and available, offering an omnichannel experience for their customers. If a small business were to try to do this on their own, it would cost them thousands of dollars and they’d need to hire a full-time marketer. In the end, we’re just one component of any retailer’s digital strategy. But the ease and effectiveness of our solution provides a compelling tool for their digital toolkits.”
Continued growth and development
There’s no arguing the fact that the past year-and-a-half have been incredibly challenging for those operating within the industry. Small businesses in particular have been forced to endure a prolonged period of uncertainty and turmoil. However, with a gradual reopening of retail stores in communities everywhere, a hope and excitement has been kindled ahead of what some are predicting to be a bit of a retail renaissance and boom in consumer spending. And, in its efforts to help local merchants realize the opportunities that will soon be abound in the months and years ahead, Crowell says that GetintheLoop is only getting started.
“We’ve been experiencing significant growth now for some time. There’s a lot of interest in our platform and service from local businesses and franchisees who want to work with us. And, consumer adoption of the app and engagement with brands available through it have exploded. We expect that within the next year, we’ll be present in every community throughout Canada and the United States. And, within three years, we expect to be in multiple countries. With respect to tools for retailers, we’ve got a pipeline full of add-ons to our current technology stack that will continue to help businesses evolve in a changing world. Although we’ve developed a relatively robust platform today, it’s still early days in terms of the kinds of products and services that we can include that will complement what businesses are trying to achieve, helping them to continue growing their audiences and enjoy even greater success.”
For more information concerning the ways GetintheLoop can help your business connect with shoppers and thrive within your local communities, visit getintheloop.ca/business
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