The traditional retail industry has experienced some tough times lately, driven by changing customer demands and economic forces, as well as the e-commerce boom that has changed the way consumers shop and browse products. But the most innovative retailers are exploring new ways of standing out in a cluttered market by creating truly integrated experiences across all digital touchpoints in the purchase journey.
This changing customer path to purchase has been largely driven by the rapid switch to online shopping. Global retail ecommerce sales are showing a steady rise every year, according to Statista, having increased from $1.34trn in 2014 to $2.84trn in 2018. This figure is predicted to cross $4trn by 2020 and reach $4.88trn by 2021.
At this year’s Festival of Media Global Awards 2019, the retail industry accounted for 28% of the Gold winners, gaining recognition for campaigns around the world stretching from North America to Europe and Asia, spanning the fashion, food and multi-category retail sectors.
Delving deeper into these campaigns highlights that data has a huge role to play for retailers — not just in understanding customer preferences but using a range of different insights to create a continuous loop of communications that optimises across every touchpoint in the customer’s journey in real-time to create more personalised and relevant experiences.
“Brands that invest in data and use data to drive insights typically outperform their peers by 85% in sales and 25% in margins,” said Jason Forbes, CEO of Beamly and Chief Digital and Media Officer at Coty, speaking on stage at the Festival of Media Global 2019. “If you actually make investments and use that to your advantage in understanding what the data is telling you, you (as a brand in your category) will outperform your peers. As more and more consumers shift to online, there are more signals available than ever before and brands that are using those signals to fully understand what the upside could be, are the ones who are typically outperforming.”
Mobile was also a key factor in these entries. According to a report from Smaato, retailers accounted for 49% of mobile ad spend share during the second half of 2018, more than double that of the media industry which came in second at 23%. Given that customers are spending so much time on their smartphones, retailers are increasingly putting mobile at the heart of the channel mix – not just through their own apps but by forging innovative partnerships with media owners to create new shopping channels via in-app purchases.
In such a competitive sector, trends come and go at the speed of social. Standing out is key – particularly for a brand who relies solely on e-commerce and lacks a physical shop presence to lure customers in. Social media platforms are playing a significant role here — whether it’s providing inspiration on Instagram, joining conversations on Twitter by reacting to what’s happening on other media channels or creating ‘shoppable’ content, real-time marketing strategies can make all the difference.
“Agility is exactly the capability that retailers need, driven optimally by using data and science to delight customers,” writes David Ciancio, Senior Customer Strategist for dunnhumby. “Retailers and brands must embody a cultural and mind shift to putting customers first; this is how they become empowered to seize on the opportunities now presented, and how they enable themselves to thrive therefrom. To change best and with purpose, it must be via Customer First – to deeply understand customers, to strategically invest in what matters most to them, to improve the shopping experience, and to personalise conversations with the most precious assets of the business – its customers.”
Timing is truly of the essence in retail. With seasonal events and annual shopping extravaganzas such as Black Friday becoming one of the most profitable days in the retail calendar, such opportunities should not be missed. Retailers have shown that an always-on approach to marketing has never been more crucial – by tapping into pop culture trends or tracking social conversations and influencer content.
Defined by emerging technologies that are changing the way consumers interact and buy from their favourite brands, the retail industry is still navigating a period of significant transformation. The biggest opportunity for retailers is to be agile and adaptable to the changing shifts in demographics, attitudes and consumer preferences and create truly integrated experiences that connect with customers across all digital touchpoints.
We put the spotlight on two Festival of Media Global Awards 2019 Gold winning entries, which highlight this trend:
Missguided Styles Love Island | Missguided | MediaCom | UK
Shortlisted for: Best Multi-screen Campaign (GOLD WINNER), Collaboration Award (GOLD WINNER), Best Use of Mobile (SILVER WINNER)
In 2018 there was one topic that dominated national conversation in the UK. It wasn’t Brexit, the Royal Wedding or even the World Cup. Instead, it was the TV show ‘Love Island’. A reality show so popular, that there were more conversations about Love Island on Twitter than anything else. Brimming with love, lust and scandal, for eight weeks each summer, ITV’s cultural behemoth is all the UK tunes into and talks about. The 2017 finale drew 2.9 million viewers and the season captured a 56% share of Missguided’s target demographic. With every cast member looking like a model, and appearing on screen in a range of the hottest swimwear, daywear and evening wear, Missguided realised this was an opportunity to transform the whole way fashion e-commerce works.
Introducing ‘Missguided Styles Love Island’. From programme sponsorship to ad spots, in-show product placement to in-app purchases, MediaCom planned a fully-connected, through-the-line campaign. Other retailers have done product placement and allowed purchase on branded microsites but it’s never been truly integrated across every touchpoint and in real-time. The first step in allowing its customers to shop the screen was to partner with Love Island.
‘Missguided Styles Love Island’ marked a genuine ﬁrst for British TV, which was the deepest collaboration between a fashion sponsor and a broadcaster, collapsing the gap between TV screen & mobile screen and from desire to purchase. Prior to the show launching, each Islander browsed a bespoke, one-off Missguided pop-up shop, picking items that they wanted to wear in the villa during ﬁlming. To allow viewers to buy the outﬁts they were seeing, the agency worked with ITV to create a section on the Love Island mobile app ‘Island Style’, making the journey from screen to checkout seamless. It was then a race against time each day to create new designs across the Love Island app and all paid and owned channels, including mobile website, mobile ads, and social carousels.
Digital Window Shopping | Canadian Tire Corporation | Touché! | Canada
Shortlisted for: Effective Use of e-Commerce (GOLD WINNER), Best Use of Data & Insight Award (GOLD WINNER), Best Use of Digital Media, Best Use of Real-time Marketing
Together, Amazon and Canadian Tire sell millions of different products via their websites. In this cluttered environment, featuring the right “star products” on their ads and betting on the right categories is critical to success. In retail, these are usually selected by merchandising experts months in advance, missing out on the opportunity to react to changes in consumers’ product preferences. In the seven days leading up to Black Friday, Touché! detected a new analytic trend: the average number of items left abandoned in Canadian Tire’s website carts increased by the hour, reaching unpreceded high. It called this new trend “online window shopping”: placing items temporarily in Canadian Tire’s carts, consumers look for similar options on its competitors’ website.
These temporary carts were a golden mine of insights. They could tell, in real time, which items, out of the hundreds of thousands sold by Canadian Tire, could be used as “online door crashers”, to attract an unpreceded number of visitors to its website. It also revealed what categories and products to leverage to win the share of voice war against Amazon. Leveraging “online window shopping” brought new visitors who generated either e-comm sales…or abandoned items in their carts, providing more real-time data from which it selected more star products. An infinite loop of insights and sales.
A live data stream was quickly set up to generate insights from the online window shopping phenomenon, and fuel the entire campaign, from product selection to creative development, in real-time. This data-driven approach to selecting featured products for its ads was a drastic improvement from the retail industry’s traditional procurement-based selection process. It also used this live data feed to select which Search categories to bid on and promoted star products online, engaging consumers on a broad variety of digital touchpoints, from YouTube to SEM to Instagram. The campaign was relentlessly optimised towards the most performant placements, formats and creatives.