Is Your Brand Ready for the Retail Revival?

A resurrection of retail is imminent, primed by hard-learned lessons forcing brands to re-examine altered customer journeys in response to a roller coaster 2020.

The #1 goal of retailers and brand marketers, now, should be to continue delivering truly remarkable, 100% customer-led interactions that drive business growth despite cultural trends, data regulations, or government mandates.

All three are spurring foundational shifts that are shaking the bedrock of what outdated marketing strategies have been built on.

This June, we’re bringing together retail leaders and experts to share tools, information, and strategies needed to succeed in this new, customer-centric climate. This post discusses why such a revival of retail is upon us.

RSVP for our digital festival, Retail Revival 2021.

A Shifting Retail Tide

While the in-store shopping experience shifted dramatically in 2020 — with mandated masks, contactless payment, click-and-collect options, limits on in-store shoppers, and social distancing — those who weren’t acclimating to the rise of the digital economy suffered.

The Impact of the Pandemic: By the Numbers
The landscape of commerce shifted after a devastating economic blow to everyone due to the pandemic. 50 million U.S. workers were laid-off or furloughed during COVID-19. 100,000 U.S. businesses closed their doors permanently.  Spurred by the consumer’s transition to online, e-commerce has grown, reaching $211.5 billion in Q2, up 32% from Q1 and 45% year-over-year.

Surviving the transitory turmoil will require stepping into an entirely new dynamic — one empowered by technology that demands total customer obsession both in-store and online.

An influx of new digital customers

Whether driven by shifts in customer needs during lockdown, offline to online due to store closures, or simply more aggressive discounting to clear stock, many brands will have increased their existing customer database with little time to consider the triggers that led buyers there and what they want moving forward. 

E-commerce leaders need to revive retention plans and determine how to nurture these new relationships through personalized experiences.

In an era of skyrocketing consumer expectations, digital clutter, and choice overload, it’s no longer enough to spout off customer-centric mantras or boast about “knowing our customers” — you’ll have to back it up by proving it, or face a fate that COVID made a reality for so many businesses.

Adapting to a Customer-Centric World

The viability of retail depends on how well brands respond to this new tech-infused (yet still economically uncertain) environment by thinking like customers.

But the spoils of the retail rejuvenation will only go to the brands who take the necessary steps now to operate in this new paradigm.

We see four major opportunities for digitally focused, customer-centric brands in 2021/22:

1. Leveraging First-Party Data & Permission Marketing Amidst Data Privacy Regulations

As consumers gain greater transparency and control over how their personal data is used, retailers require new ways to target in a more personalized way. Increased attention from consumers and new regulations are making data less of a commodity and earned, owned data the primary asset of successful customer-centric companies.

Third-party cookies will soon be unavailable so using first-party data, collected with clear permission from customers, is the way of the future for brands. Marketers have no choice but to take data transparency seriously and adjust how they use information across the business.

2. Make Customer Loyalty Programs a Central Piece of the Business

Compared to new customers, loyal customers spend 67% more and generate 12-18% more revenue per year.

A loyalty program doesn’t have to be complex or cumbersome, nor does it require a major IT investment.

Loyalty programs encourage brand loyalty and long-term business by offering customers coupons, rewards, offers, special access, and a community. Since they’re based on value and require opted-in action, loyalty programs foster engagement, create loads of usable data, and spur more purchases at a higher AOV.

If you haven’t already launched a loyalty program, don’t wait.

3. Generate Customer-Obsessed Omnichannel Interactions

90% of customers expect consistent interactions across channels. Customer-obsessed omnichannel means creating a consistent and relevant user experience across all platforms and devices through every step in the customer journey, delighting them with a consistent 24/7 experience.

For the amount of strategy, resources, and execution you invest in your personalization approach, in the eyes of customers, it’s much simpler: there’s just your brand and the experience they have when they interact with you.

Omnichannel marketing isn’t just for major enterprises that can dedicate massive resources to launching sophisticated strategies. With tech and data as the great equalizer, the path to omnichannel success is being forged by mid-market businesses, too.

4. Create Meaningful Moments Across Your Customer Lifecycle

Marketing that feels like “marketing” is doomed. Marketing that honors customer fluidity and creates meaningful moments throughout the entire lifecycle is the way of the future.

But, this all means using technology instead of it using us. It means removing the complexity and fragmentation that technology has inadvertently created. Marketing needs to be broken down and refurbished before brands can stitch those journeys together.

What does it look like in action? Personalizing each interaction. Predicting what customers may want. Embracing “personalization everywhere” creates engagement touchpoints that take your brand from transactional to transformational. This is the next level.

Final Thoughts

Last year, we celebrated a developing renaissance in retail. But 2020 has come and gone — as has its ups and downs — and this year we’re in store for a revival in retail.

If 2020 was about scrambling to survive short-term, 2021 invites us to adapt and acclimate with agility. Thriving this year requires regaining lost revenue and acclimatizing to a new dynamic which demands total customer obsession.

Success in this new environment depends on this one thing: how well brands can think like their customers. If you’re ready to do just that, join us in June for Retail Revival.

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