Read on Fourth Source

The expectations of today’s consumers are higher than ever before. Switching between multiple devices, they expect to be able to move seamlessly between channels and brick-and-mortar stores to make instant purchases, at the lowest price, with the best level of service.

With new technologies such as Apple Pay transforming the industry even further, retail is undergoing a period of rapid innovation. In addition to a visit to a high street store, the consumer shopping experience can now involve online product research and price comparisons, click-and-collect services, interacting with interactive displays, iBeacons, and contactless payment.

So, in this complex retail environment, what does the future look like for marketers?

A greater emphasis on one-to-one marketing

With today’s consumer appreciating a personalised buying experience, retail marketers need to move away from trying to be everything to everyone and work towards a goal of one-to-one marketing. The rise of connectedness – from point-of-sale systems to enterprise retail planning – means brands often have access to data spanning the entire consumer journey. Marketing operating systems have the ability to unlock the power of retail data using algorithms to make decisions on behalf of marketers and target consumers with relevant, personalised content across all digital channels.

In one example, a well-known retailer that built its business around catalogue shopping was sitting on a wealth of first-party data. By using a marketing operating system, it was able to activate its own data, combine it with the third-party data of integrated partners, and gain a deeper understanding of its consumers. The retailer can now directly track performance back to its specific goals across all channels, and optimise to the strategies driving the best performance, improving marketing capabilities.

More consumer data than ever before

Data plays a vital role in improving the consumer experience and retailers benefit from using first and second-party data to create highly targeted campaigns. Looking forward, the volume and diversity of consumer data available is about to escalate dramatically as wearables and the Internet of Things gather momentum, so retailers will soon be able to track connected products throughout their entire lifecycle.

As the volume and variety of data increases, retail marketers are realising the importance of taking ownership and protecting their brand’s valuable data. To avoid giving away their marketing investment to opaque intermediaries – who may use the data to drive revenue for themselves – it’s crucial that marketers are cautious about who they share data with. They need to ensure that agencies they use have data safeguards in place, which can include – but are not limited to – prohibiting the collection of personally identifiable information (PII) and providing written consent when tags are used on a site.

The hi-tech high street

Consumers are increasingly using their smartphones as personal shoppers and price comparison tools, and two fifths (42%) of consumers conduct research online via a smartphone while in-store. Retail marketers will increasingly use in-store technology to encourage engagement, personalisation, and footfall in the physical store environment. Stores with the technology available to identify consumers as they enter and recognise the products they are browsing can use this data to improve the shopping experience. Individualised offers of advice, alternative or complementary products, and targeted coupons or incentives, all become possible. Public Wi-Fi will also increasingly be leveraged for marketing purposes – with marketers able to use data from consumers connecting to their network – and geolocation technology will allow retailers to target shoppers who may be in the proximity of their stores.

Never before has technology had so much potential to change the way consumers shop, allowing retailers to leverage data sources to intelligently communicate with consumers throughout the retail journey. With more budgets moving to digital, retail marketers will become more technologically agile and will be able to deliver the relevant, customised, one-on-one experience consumers crave, driven by meaningful data insights.

Dave reed

Managing Director, EMEA