The unrelenting storms of change buffeting the retail world continue to impact our industry, with brick-and-mortar chains downsizing or shutting down altogether. Concurrently, e-commerce platforms continue to secure bigger shares of consumer spending, thanks in part to the relative ease of purchasing online and incentives at physical stores. 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 news is bad. 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. Eighty-eight percent of consumers research their buys online before making a purchase, whether it's online or in-store (65 percent 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 U.S. retail sales in 2018, including for researching, comparing prices and purchasing. And shoppers who utilize multiple channels to conduct product research spend 14 percent more than single-channel shoppers.
That's why an omnichannel strategy 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 silos and preconceptions that previously divided digital strategies and focus on the singular 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 they 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 omnichannel 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 is putting significant investment into creating more personalized experiences for customers 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 in 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 percent of advertisers were looking for more effective datasets 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 percent of consumers shop through multiple channels, according to the Harvard Business Review—and in one year, the total number of omnichannel shoppers has increased fourfold. Surprisingly, omnichannel shoppers are also more loyal to retailers, logging 23 percent 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 the 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.