The recent Women in Retail Leadership Summit in Miami provided a unique opportunity to network with and learn from the industry’s most creative, driven and successful women. Amid the powerful and insightful presentations as well as conversations held during outdoor cocktail receptions held by the beautiful Four Seasons pool, the event shed light on the challenges facing today’s top retail brands – particularly those relating to effectively engaging customers throughout the omnichannel shopping journey.
A customer’s perception and relationship with a retail brand depends heavily on how that brand connects with their customer, both in-store and online. Retailers are currently undergoing a major shift to improve and create seamless, personalized brand messaging, across all channels, delivered to truly identifiable customers online.
To better understand how retailers can improve these brand experiences for their customers, I’ve identified three emerging digital trends that retail marketers should keep their eyes on throughout 2016.
1. All Eyes Are on Mobile, For Now
Mobile ad spend in the U.S. is expected to jump 38% year-over-year from 2015 to 2016. Not only that, but mobile will account for more than 60% of total digital ad spend in 2016 in the U.S. That’s eye-opening growth, no matter how you look at it.
For retailers, there are several factors leading mobile’s marketing budget takeover, including: (1) the rapid growth of overall mobile device usage; (2) the ability to deliver personalized brand messages to in-store shoppers; and (3) growing engagement rates and enhanced brand experiences presented by mobile video.
The convergence of these three factors is ultimately changing the way that retail brands are approaching the digital customer experience. While mobile represents just a component of the shopper’s journey, it is safe to say it represents the most influential (and personal) component of that journey right now.
At Viant, we’ve helped retailers effectively tap into mobile as part of shoppers’ larger multichannel journey by taking a cross-device approach to targeting and measurement. In fact, for one luxury retail client’s annual holiday digital campaign, we were able to pinpoint return on ad spend across individual devices, and found that ads running across smartphones and tablets yielded three times the return as ads that ran across desktop only.
2. IoT is Starting to Make Its Mark
While mobile is undoubtedly the dominant force in today’s marketing arsenal, it represents only the beginning of a larger interconnectedness that retail marketers will be able to leverage to offer truly personal and seamless shopping experiences.
In a recent report by McKinsey, it’s estimated that IoT in retail can help drive global revenue growth by $410 billion to $1.2 trillion per year by 2025. Now those numbers are truly eye-opening.
IoT is often discussed intangibly, but embedded within McKinsey’s report are actually several practical data-driven applications that marketers can rely on that go beyond just sending in-store shoppers 30% off discount codes to their mobile devices. Ideas include automated in-store product layout optimization, automated checkout, and smart customer relationship management (CRM) systems to track in-store employee-customer interactions.
If it sounds like the store of the future, that’s because it is…but we’re not as far off as one might think.
At Viant, we’ve entered the periphery of IoT through partnerships with several strategic data providers that allow us to match our pool of first-party registered users to sources of offline data, including up to 80% of debit and credit card transactions in the U.S. Through nightly in-store purchase data collection across 5,000 different retail stores nationwide, Viant allows retailers to tailor their digital messaging to customers based on each shopper’s actual off-line purchase history.
In the same luxury retail campaign mentioned above, for example, Viant was able to leverage our client’s in-store purchase data, and map it back to our cross device campaign (across desktop, tablet and mobile), ultimately proving that for every 1 dollar spent on advertising, we drove 27 dollars of product sales.
3. Leveraging First-Party Data Instead of Relying on Proxies
While e-commerce continues to grow, the majority of retail transactions still occur offline. Despite this, in-store purchases are still heavily influenced by online activity – our recent case study proved that mobile actually helped drive 68% of in-store sales for a luxury jewelry retailer. Findings like these make it imperative for brand marketers to have a solution that links digital ad exposure to in-store purchases.
Through people-based targeting, retail marketers are able to maximize conversions by delivering highly personalized messaging to real people with the proper reach and frequency across consumers’ connected devices.
This people-based approach offers an effective solution to the issues posed by cookies and other anonymous proxies used for behavioral advertising online. For instance, consider this: cookie-based advertising can lead to as much as a 200% overstatement of campaign reach and a 50% understatement of campaign frequency.
In contrast, by relying on registered user data instead of cookies, a people-based approach allows for the creation of a single view of each consumer that accounts for customers’ fluid movement across a retailer’s online and offline channels.
Creating this online-to-offline link is ultimately helping retailers gain cross channel insight into how, when and where their customers are interacting with their brand’s messages. With this critical data, marketers can target their customers across the open web with personal brand messages at the right time of day and on the appropriate device, driving increased revenue and proof of return on ad spend.