The unrelenting storms of change buffeting the retail world continue to impact our industry with brick and mortar chains downsizing or shutting down altogether. E-commerce platforms continue to secure bigger shares of consumer spending, thanks in part to the relative ease of purchasing online as well as promotions and incentives. Most recently, Chinese giant Alibaba rang up $31 billion — yes, that’s billion, with a B — in sales over the country’s Singles Day last weekend.
But not all is bad news. Many retailers are learning to adapt to these changing times of empowered consumers, offering app-based and digital solutions to optimize their in-store experience. Much like those retailers, Triad Retail Media has adapted as a business too, continuing to work hard at uncovering new realities on behalf of our brand partners and retailers.
1. Our customers are everywhere for a reason
The customer journey is always evolving and expanding into new areas, but now more than ever, it transcends barriers.
Brick and mortar and e-commerce transactions are inextricably intertwined along the path to purchase as mobile, desktop, and real world touchpoints blur together into synergistic interactions. 88% of consumers research their buys online before making a purchase, whether it’s online or in-store (65% compare the in-store price with the online price while in the store). All told, smartphones will be used in over one-third of total US retail sales in 2018, including research, price comparisons, and purchases. And shoppers who utilize multiple channels to conduct product research spend 14% more than single channel shoppers.
That’s why an omni-channel strategy covering all channels is critical to any media investment. The consumer may dictate the demand, but retailers can benefit from this convergence of platforms if they, too, are able to dissolve barriers. They must set aside siloes and preconceptions that previously divided digital strategies and funnel their focus into the touchpoint that matters most: the customer.
2. Focus on consumers before the media environment
Brands and retailers have become more agnostic about where the customer is buying and are shifting their strategic efforts to convert the customer wherever they are researching and shopping. Put simply, the sales funnel is collapsing. Retailers and brands have been forced to rethink the shopper journey from inspiration to discovery to purchase. As a result, they’re using multiple channels outside of e-commerce — including mobile, voice, and programmatic — to find new ways to deliver key messages to the right consumers at the right time.
After all, a successful omni-channel strategy necessitates the ability to reach customers across many environments with connected, relevant and personalized messaging.
3. Brand marketers and retailers are in it together
The retail industry is searching for new ways to leverage its data to connect with customers and putting significant investment into creating more personalized experiences across all channels.
To do that, both sides must work together in a coordinated effort, and the good news is, we’re starting to see that happen. Brands and retailers have indeed influenced the effectiveness of traditional advertising dollars, leaning into a shift that recently has made trade investments more efficient in order to reach customers before they step foot into a store.
Advertisers, meanwhile, also need a safe and protected environment to activate media campaigns that produce reliable ROI. As a result, they are looking for new and better ways to execute targeted media initiatives that produce better outcomes. For example, a recent research study from Triad Retail Media uncovered that 93% of advertisers were looking for more effective data sets to enhance purchase-based targeting.
4. Leverage your insights and intelligence
This transformation of the customer-brand-retailer relationship is powered by smart use of a precise selection of data, technology, and marketing tactics; a shift that is best envisioned by experienced operators who favor an optimal customer experience across all touchpoints over all other considerations.
This approach has already proven effective, as 73% of consumers shop through multiple channels, according to the Harvard Business Review, and in one year, the total number of omni-channel shoppers has increased by four times. Surprisingly, omni-channel shoppers are also more loyal to retailers, logging 23% more return visits.
It makes sense, then, that some retailers are starting to pursue e-commerce monetization. But the majority of new platforms are still in the early stages of building out their programs — only a select few have the ability to effectively leverage their data to reach the customer.
In summary, customers don’t know whether messaging they’re encountering is coming from a platform owned by the retailer, the brand, an agency, or elsewhere. In fact, they don’t care. But consumers will know if media they encounter creates a sophisticated, personalized, coordinated experience across the entire shopping journey — and that’s something you should care about.