Retail has shifted but definitely not died… in fact, it’s primed for a revival, characterized by real-time omnichannel experiences, a refocus on retention, and a dedication to data.

A few weeks ago, we learned how all of these are working for brands who dished out their stories during our three-day online festival. Emarsys’ 2nd annual Retail Revival digital event is behind us, but we wanted to showcase the five most impactful pieces of insight our speakers shared across several key topics retailers are focused on. Enjoy!

Brand Storytelling

A few years ago, we featured two guests on the Marketer + Machine podcast — Brent Turner and Michael Brenner — who discussed the role that brand storytelling would play as part of the emerging trend that is experiential marketing.

Bobby Berk, a man who knows a thing or two about retail, making money, and putting on a show through elegant storytelling said it beautifully:

“One of the most important things that you can do in e-commerce and brick-and-mortar right now is have a story. Have a story that your customers can relate to, that they’re drawn to, because there’s so much competition out in the world… so yours [brand] has to stand out and have an emotional connection to the consumer. One of the things that has been reinforced to me most while working on Queer Eye is consumers connect to brands that have a storey and that are doing good in the world. They don’t always have to be true… it can be a beautiful story that you want people to connect with. That’s one of the keys I’m seeing right now for the brands being most successful.”

Bobby Berk ⋆ TV Host, Serial Entrepreneur, Star of Netflix series Queer Eye

Further tech acceleration will enable marketers to take the role as purveyor of their storytelling and to disseminate it at scale — creating greater reach, effectiveness and impact among the individual consumers they serve.

Loyalty & Retention

Acquiring new customers is more costly than growing existing business. More marketers are beginning to recognize that the cost of acquisition is simply not economical nor worthwhile. In their pursuit for value over volume, they’re turning toward their existing database with a renewed focus on retention.

Customer loyalty is the key to executing a lucrative retention marketing strategy, but re-engaging inactive or one-time buyers is the best way to get people to that point.

“The evolution of our journey is not just the one-and-done purchase; it’s a relationship. And that’s what’s going to create loyalty. A lot of the focus that we have — in addition to ‘how do we be great at sell-through’ — is ‘how do we  continue to carry on a relationship with our users and really just the teams cross-functionally rallying behind that to continue to optimize those journeys and find new ways to attract and retain consumers… that, for me, is really exciting.”

Rick Almeida ⋆ VP, E-Commerce, PUMA

As Rick alluded to, retention (through loyalty programs) truly represents the most lucrative investment for modern e-commerce teams looking to break away from the accepted status quo in 2022.

Discovery Commerce

AI-powered predictive marketing is the next wave of tech that can enable this kind of customer experiences needed in the future.

Personalization engines find relations between products based on the complementary nature of items, what others with similar behavior bought, and in conjunction with a product’s popularity.

What Stefano Pardi of Facebook calls “discovery commerce” can drive revenue increases by 10-30% as our CEO Ohad Hecht points out.

“E-commerce, search, and other forms of intent marketing require customers to know what they’re looking for. Brands have to reach them with other media before their purchase… search and e-commerce do not generate demand. Discovery commerce does. With consumer spending [value] at 15x e-commerce spending, the opportunity for discovery commerce is much bigger. The bigger opportunity is not in capturing the consumer’s intent or wants, but in creating them. The most important question [retailers should be asking] today is ‘how can I reach potential and unknown customers?’”

Stefano Pardi ⋆ Head of Industry, Retail & E-Commerce (UK), Facebook

Predictions, discovery (e.g., content or product binging, continuous scroll, “items you might like”) and recommendations are calculated by algorithms that dissect all cross-channel information and transactional data to make offers for customers we, as marketers, would never know or think to make. This is the next generation!

Building Community & Better Consumer Relationships

As stores re-open and online continues to thrive now post-pandemic, people’s behavior has been shifted accordingly. Competing on price or product alone isn’t enough, but rather catering to experience, expectations and meeting emotional needs of audiences.

It’s time to get personal and build real meaning among your market… to grow a group of brand fans salivating for your services because of the value you offer. Gaia’s CFO expands:

“By going direct-to-consumer through our subscription video platform, we’re able to get a signal of demand so that we’re able to create content that meets that, but more importantly that’s distributed directly to the consumer. Personalization and customization was a big driving point for us… in 2013 there was really only one other player out there and it was Netflix. Now it’s pretty ubiquitous that streaming is the way consumers want to consume content…. It is about increasing margins, but more importantly building a direct relationship with consumers and getting a conscious media product to users who can then utilize and evangelize it to the world… so that we can start to fire up a community around it. For us, community is the next frontier!”

Paul Tarell ⋆ CFO, Gaia

Measurement, Attribution, Tying Marketing to Results

In addition to dozens of obstacles marketers face, arguably the #1 challenge is proving how on- and offline campaigns are impacting business objectives, including the bottom line.

Executives set the bar: “increase [X] by [Y] amount” — and teams scurry off and start pushing out see-what-sticks advertisements, unorganized campaigns, or irrelevant content. There’s been no way to connect all the pieces, parts, and variables and measurement of marketing’s true contribution has thus been very difficult.

“Everything we have done over the last decade has been a phenomenal boon for the tech companies, but it has not done as much to help the outcomes of the businesses that are advertising. In short, we have gotten really, really good — even in a world of technology, in a world of measurement — of measuring the things that don’t matter. That’s something we need to change… to hold marketing dollars accountable to true incremental dollar-volume that companies drive, versus what they purport to drive or what marketing takes credit for.”

Sucharita Kodali ⋆ VP, Principal Analyst, Forrester

As Sucharita points out, it’s time to better connect the dots to show direct proof of how strategies and tactics implemented have impacted business objectives. The technology of the future must tangibly showcase the connection between the work marketing does and what it’s been asked to accomplish.

Using the Emarsys Customer Engagement Platform, brands can do this. They can leverage an automated, detailed, pre-populated plan of attack with strategies and tactics guaranteed to achieve organizational goals.

The next phase of retail, marketing, and CX will lead to a more experiential, more 1-to-1, more relevant ecosystem of give-and-take between consumer and brands. While technology, AI, algorithms, automation, and rapid innovation will make this easier, it’s marketers like those featured here — and you — that will always drive it forward.

Insights featured here represent only the tip of the iceberg. The festival featured a global lineup of retail leaders from brands like Char-Broil, BrandAlley and more. Visit the on-demand video library