Figaro Digital Retail Conference May 2015: What We Learned (Pt 1)

by Jessica Ramesh

The Figaro Digital Retail Conference took place on Thursday 14 May at Prospero House on Borough High Street. From automation to mobile, social and digital transformation, our speakers offered up some expert advice for retailers. In the first of a two-part round-up of the day’s presentations, we hear about the importance of customer experience and user engagement

Leveraging Marketing Operations to Drive Successful Marketing Campaigns
Mary Neville, Marketing Operations Business Development Director at Teradata Marketing Applications

Mary Neville kicked off the day by explaining why optimisation is grounded in successful marketing operations. You may have the right data and content, she says, but that doesn’t mean you’re optimised. To send out content quickly and according to branding guidelines you need a strategy that takes into account budget, creative, different channels and the approval process. Marketers need to be both proactive and reactive and ensure they’re driven by real-time customer insight to determine the next communication step. Mary’s key takeaway: never stop tracking and measuring performance.

Is it Omnichannel or Just Business as Usual? How to Succeed Whatever You Call it
Vijayanta Gupta, Head of Product and Industry Marketing at Adobe Systems Europe

Adobe’s Vijayanta Gupta stressed the importance of maintaining brand consistency across different channels. Examining channels in isolation, he says, prevents marketers from achieving a full, rounded view of customers’ activity and can actually create more problems than it solves. For businesses today, says Vijayanta, omnichannel ought to be the norm, but many are put off by the prospect of a “painful” journey towards achieving this. “Getting customer-centric is not about marketing. It’s about enterprise transformation.” For retailers that means understanding how customers respond moment by moment, while at the same time understanding the broader context of a specific search query or purchase. If, for example, your customers are looking at barbecue sets, whet their appetite with relevant content such as recipes.

Experience Tomorrow – The Future of Commerce
Matthew Diss, Managing Director UK & Ireland, Intershop Communications AG

Increasingly it’s customer experience that differentiates brands and drives decision-making, says Matthew Diss at Intershop Communications. And when it comes to creating those experiences, there’s a whole range of opportunities for marketers. Content, context, convenience and customer service all feed into the equation. Underpinning consumers’ relationships with brands however, is a steady erosion of the distinction between online and offline. In the future, says Matthew, ‘lifestyle commerce’ will lead the way: convenient digital services that enable users to do everything from buy gifts to de-ice their car windscreens remotely. “Shopping needs to be simple, quick, and fun. User-friendly sites, easy navigation, localised information, intuitive ordering tools, targeted promotion and modern checkout processes are the ingredients that convert casual browsers into happy buyers.”

Peter Shea, Formerly Subscriptions Director at Tesco
Creating a Real Customer-First Strategy

Peter Shea has held senior roles at Tesco, Sony, Amazon Prime and Amazon Kindle. Despite business leaders paying noisy lip-service to customer-first strategies, he says, few companies really deliver. So where do you start? First of all, know who your customers are and what they want from you. But don’t rely only on what those customers tell you; consumers have an awkward tendency to provide information based on how they wish to be perceived, rather than on what they actually want. Peter stresses the importance of data in understanding consumer behaviour. Once you have that information, create a cultural and technical infrastructure that enables you to put the customer first. As a guiding principle, Peter left us with this nifty bit of advice: Make your customers’ problems your problems. But never, ever allow your problems to become those of your customers. 

Gareth Morgan, Managing Director at Liberty Marketing
SEO & PPC Checklist

Gareth took us through 20 factors that can impact on search marketing and presented some simple solutions. For retailers, writing a blog post about a new product can be a simple way to drive traffic to your website and encourage sales growth. Getting endorsed on social is another quick win, as social signals are becoming increasingly significant in search. Local search means that brands with multiple stores can promote individual locations. And Google My Business means that you can now have different content for different locations. But watch out for duplicate content, Gareth warns, as this will affect your rankings. Re-write product descriptions so that each one is unique. And if that seems like a lot of work, consider employing user-generated content.

Andrew Machin – Creative Director, Branded3
Why Online Retailers Need to Start Engaging

Three challenges face online retailers, says Andrew Machin at Branded3. First, they need to be relevant in order to compete with the enormous amount of content already vying for users’ attention. Secondly, marketers need to capture the customer during the decision-making journey. With 39 per cent of product searches now starting on Amazon (compared with 11 per cent on Google), the online retail giant is fast becoming the default search engine for consumers seeking product information, leaving retailers with less influence during the browsing process. Andrew also points to the rising significance of millennials: this digitally native demographic with their high expectations of products and services are of the utmost importance to your brand, so cater to their needs. As consumers, he points out, we tend to live in the moment, which means information needs to be tailored and relevant to the time it’s received. The most successful brands will be those that fully understand their customers, not just the products they’re currently searching for.

Gerald Dawson – Director, Weird Fish

‘Send Three and Fourpence…’ A View from the Trenches of Omnichannel Retail

Adapting to digital can be a challenge for retailers whatever their size and scope. Gerald Dawson talked us through clothing retailer Weird Fish’s experience and if there was an underlying message it was this: just do it. Rather than waiting for their website to be perfect before launch, Weird Fish put it live and elicited feedback from the only people whose opinions really matter: users. That feedback enabled the brand to refine its offering and develop a culture where change was something to be embraced rather than feared. “Standing still,” notes Gerald, “is the new going backwards.” Gerald also distinguished between suppliers and genuine partners and revealed that support can come from the least likely quarters. And, as the head of a small company with big ambitions, Gerald stresses the need for everyone on the team to put the brand above all else. If you’re not prepared to defend and promote it, who will? Lastly, a word on the title of Gerald’s presentation. During WWI, the story goes, a British Commander on the front line issued a message back to HQ: ‘Send reinforcements. We’re going to advance.’ As the message was relayed along the chain of command it mutated, Chinese whispers-style. By the time it reached HQ it had become ‘Send three and fourpence. We’re going to a dance.’ The lesson: wherever you sit in the marketing ecosystem, clear communication is vital.

By Estelle Hakner and Jon Fortgang