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Event review: retail digital marketing

Retailers are swimming in data but they suffer from it being disparately located and unconnected, which is leading to them having an insufficiently full picture of… View Article

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Event review: retail digital marketing

Retailers are swimming in data but they suffer from it being disparately located and unconnected, which is leading to them having an insufficiently full picture of their businesses. But thankfully it has arguably never been easier to source tools to address this issue.

Speaking at The Retail Bulletin Adapting Your Digital Marketing Strategy 2021 webinar recently Desi Reuben-Sealey, senior UX manager at Victorinox, says: “Companies have tons and tons of data but much of it is misaligned and not connected. It’s good that it exists though. To truly see the bigger picture we need to understand how to connect the data and then we can get facts rather than opinions.”

Finding and connecting the data

He suggests retailers ask themselves where the data exists and how do they connect it? These are certainly questions that Josh Ashby, chief digital officer at UK Flooring Direct, has been asking as he has been taking the online specialist on a journey to make the data accessible across the business in order to be able to derive insights and act on them in real-time.

“We’ve moved to put the customer data platform at the centre of our business. We’re building structures around the data so we can pipe it into different parts of the business,” he says, adding that retailers should not be daunted by dealing with the data and he recommends the first step should involve putting it all in one place “otherwise you only see part of the story”.

Nobody has 360 degree view

“There are lots of tools now to stitch it all together, like Google Cloud. It’s never been easier. You can start small and feed out. Data is never 100% there, you just need to have a rounded picture. Nobody has the Holy Grail of a 360 degree view. It does not exist. Just get your data to a point where you are confident with it and do not be paralysed by waiting for it to be 100%,” suggests Ashby.

With this data Andy Stockwell, chief commercial officer at RedEye, says it is vital that retailers can actually act upon it: “You’ve got to have objectives and know what you are trying to achieve. To help with this make sure you have the capabilities to do as much automation as possible as this ensures there won’t be a squeeze on resources. We’ve clients with thousands of automated campaigns involving 10 different personalised versions.”

Don’t demand too much from customers

He also points out that new data sources should always be fed into the central repository. One of these is new customer sign-up data, which Hannah Spicer, ecommerce consultant, suggests can be misunderstood by retailers who make the big mistake of demanding too much initial information from their new customers.

“I’m a strong believer in asking for the bare minimum – just an email address. I’ve not seen any uplift that can justify retailers asking for more. When you ask for too much it cuts down the sign-ups. You can then build up the customer information by recognising what messages resonate with them and what they search on,” she explains, citing Lululemon as performing this well by making its emails increasingly more targeted as customer engage with them over time.

Maximise in-store Wi-Fi

Information on customers can also be accrued through in-store Wi-Fi but this has not been done particularly well to date by retailers, according to Stockwell, who says: “Hotels have done it well for years and have grown their databases through this. It’s a big opportunity for retailers. They’ve nowhere near cracked what’s possible. They’ve not got there yet with recommendations when customers are in-store and using apps.”

Surfacing data for recommendations very much relies on the ability to access the relevant content in a business. Michael Paxton, VP of sales at Canto, says one of the key things he is hearing from retailers is that their content is “all over the place”. “There is so much content it needs to be organised so it can be found. Everyone has a sea of content and it is about how to wade through it,” he says.

Importance of consistent content

Ideally retailers should be reusing and repurposing their content to maximise its value across their businesses. This is only possible through careful housing and management of the data. This then makes it possible to have consistent content across entire organisations.

“Keeping this consistency across the brand is especially important as there is now high volumes of data,” says Paxton, who adds that video has become increasingly prevalent since Covid-19 hit and more retailers have adopted solutions that deliver live video content from showrooms directly to customers shopping online.

Such implementations highlight how retailers have adapted their models to accommodate massively changed circumstances over the past year. For Nick Vermonden, e-commerce specialist at United Sports Brands Europe, this was reflected in the company abandoning its policy of planning its marketing activity six months in advance and instead executing [activity] immediately.

Rewriting marketing plans

“It was total chaos. We could not look at historical data so just went out with a strategy straight away. Normally we make decisions based on great attention to detail but there was no time for that. We also went from [marketing] team sports to one or two person sports. We scrapped all our plans,” he recalls.

It was a similar story for Luis Fernandes, commercial director of Carpisa Foods, who says his main customer base of foodservice companies and restaurants all went into lockdown and so the business shifted its focus onto the retail channel.

“We engaged the whole organisation to speed up the plans we had for entering into retail businesses. We did it in record time and came up with many projects including the launch of a ready-to-eat burger – which we are now selling one million per month after less than a year,” he says.

Word by Glynn Davis

Secure your place for Retail Bulletin’s next virtual event ‘Digital Transformation Strategy, which will be held on 20 May. Register here

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