Online retail is a fast-paced, ever evolving sector involving multiple marketing channels and modes of consumer engagement. Across the marketing mix, brands looking to challenge in this vibrant and deafening marketplace must make best use of all the tools at their disposal to avoid being lost in the tidal wave of competitive content sweeping consumer’s screens. Ahead of our Retailer Roundtable on 23 March, we asked some of our expert sponsors for their insights into key areas of the bustling online marketplace, and what they see as the main pressure point to leverage the ultimate in consumer satisfaction.
Children Of The (Technological) Revolution
One of the key factors in the current changing of the digital retail landscape is the entry of a new demographic into the fray. The “Millennials” and the succeeding “Generation Z” are now well represented across the online retail sphere (and, indeed, the digital marketing teams building eCommerce strategies.) As this most tech savvy generation of consumers enter the bracket of higher disposable income, their shopping habits are informing the future of the industry. But they are also a unique cohort. Most millennials, and almost all of Generation Z have been shopping online for their whole adult lives, and expectations of customer service have never been higher. So how can retailers ensure a synchronous, two-way relationship with the hyper-connected consumer? James White, eCommerce consultant, Nosto, believes that identifying and targeting individuals is key: “By ensuring content is personalised across all channels and touchpoints; email, onsite, re-targeting ads and apps (where applicable), use of high street store data is highly valuable as well. One unified data set across all touchpoints gives consistency to the customer, just like they would get from a store where the assistant remembers them and their last purchase!”
As well as making sure your customer experience remains at a high level, connecting with your consumers on a more personal and intimate level is a fantastic way to leverage them to speak up as ambassadors for your brand. “The first step is to be present and listen, leveraging social listening tools and monitoring all your social channels to understand what your consumer is saying to you and when.” Says Agi Kendrick, strategy director, Chalk Global. “The next stage is to ensure that you have staff available to answer any queries in a timely manner, having a consistent tone of voice and a sense of humour when appropriate is also key to set you apart from the crowd. Finally, using paid media to reach your audience around common themes to start the conversation on wider scale allows you to turn customer service into a brand opportunity.” This is where social media platforms like Twitter have really come into their own in terms of brand/customer relationship. Whether it’s responding to individual customer queries, sharing user-generated content, or even having a mistake aired for the world to see, a well thought out response on social media can make the consumer feel much more connected to your brand’s voice and values.
So with personalisation such a huge defining factor in the consumer shopping experience, how are retailers putting their data to work to capitalise on this? “We miss you, order follow up, replenishment and abandonment campaigns work really well together when employed across email, social platforms, and banner re-targeting.” Says White. It’s becoming apparent that as retail strategies grow ever more intricate, it’s the combination of different marketing tactics which will drive the best possible results. “You can go further still with Google shopping optimised around hero products/product lines – products shown can be based on purchase intent/abandonment from your site to ensure a higher level of relevancy and therefore conversion rate.” With the right tools, this kind of personalisation can reconnect with inactive consumers, save those abandoned carts, and breed customer loyalty. “Data is key here.” says Kendrick. “Ensure all activity is properly tracked with an attribution solution in place, so that you can see what is resonating with which audience and adjust your channel mix accordingly.”
What More Can You Give?
Going forward, personalisation looks clear to be a big influencer across the board of online retail’s marketing stack. Rachel Bloom, digital retail strategist, Liberty Marketing, says: “Personalisation is something that’s getting bigger and I would also say to think more about social integration in certain industries – campaigns that showcase products in real life send a good trust signal.” Once again, it’s the effort by retailers to connect with consumers outside of the screen, sharing content which clearly defines a brands presence in ‘real life’. A shopping experience which adds value to a product is a sure-fire hit with consumers, as Bloom continues: “The other thing is UX – making it easy as possible to buy online. Things like Charlotte Tilbury’s foundation finder and ASOS’s size guide are awesome ways to improve conversions and keep the buying cycle online.” With innovative tools designed to iron out the uncertainties of shopping online, even the most sceptical consumer can find helpful developments to help them shop with confidence.