Do you remember when stores would hand out rainchecks? If an item was out of stock you were given a receipt that would make good on a current sale price once the item was back in inventory.
The origin of the term, by the way, comes from U.S. baseball, in which a ticket holder could see another game if the current game got rained out. The mobile commerce era still has not found a way to control the weather, but it can positively influence the actions of shoppers based on the availability of specific items.
Recently, Facebook took this concept a lot further, making the entire process worth another look and giving retailers one more opportunity to give Amazon a run for its money.
Every retailer knows that online shopping has become the dominant activity of consumers. But shopping is not all about finding and purchasing. The item also has to get back to the customer's home or office somehow. Lots of attention has been given to delivery techniques, including UberRUSH and Deliv, but in most cases, consumers will continue to travel to a store to make their purchase in person. That's precisely where Facebook's new Dynamic Ads will make some waves.
No one wants to travel to a store only to find their desired item is out of stock. Retailers can proactively solve this problem by confirming the availability of an individual item in a store, or neighboring store, through their website or native mobile app and offering the customer the option to immediately purchase and hold it. This works well for items that the customer has already thought about, but what about those that are not yet on their radar?
Dynamic Product Showcase
Enter the dynamic ad from Facebook, which drives relevant ads to Facebook users based on their profile and browsing history and tunes those ads according to local store availability. As described on the Facebook for Business page, "campaigns can dynamically showcase products available in the store that's closest to the person seeing the ad."
The Facebook dynamic ad represents a type of precursor to the see-now-buy-now trend, answering the consumers' call for immediacy in their shopping journey. It helps guarantee an item's availability, thus minimizing the risk and raising the satisfaction level of the purchase activity. The difference between this type of ad and an "item availability" feature on a store's website or native mobile app is the difference between pre-and post-decision. This is an influencer. It helps form the desire and the decision primarily based on the convenience of availability.
In some ways, this is not new at all. For a century or more, stores have lured customers through the doors with in-stock specials, gatecrashers, and loss leaders, but the Facebook dynamic ad takes this to a new and highly personal space, speaking directly to each individual shopper and offering guarantees on items that are meaningful just to that person.
Influencing a decision in this mode is just one more opportunity for local retailers, which can now shift merchandise more efficiently while predicting the movement of that same merchandise more accurately.
This also brings the retailer one step closer to catching the giant, Amazon, whose claim to fame has always been price paired with quick delivery. Once brick-and-mortar retailers are better able to predict the movement of their stock through customized pre-decision influence using ads by Facebook for Business or the inevitable copies offered by other ecommerce facilitators, they may be better able to trim their margins safely while maintaining profitability, Amazon-style.
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