The Biggest Issue Facing Growing Retailers Right Now

By September 4, 2015E-Commerce Marketing

There’s no doubt that the retail industry is going through some major shifts at the moment, as e-commerce and mobile platforms move consumers away from the traditional brick-and-mortar based shopping experience. While this shift in consumer’s shopping preferences is propelling U.S. retail sales closer toward the $400 billion mark, some companies still struggle to keep pace due to their hesitation to embrace the changing ways that include:

Increased consumer price or window shopping:

The growth of e-commerce and mobile platforms has made the consumer’s job of shopping for the best price much easier. There are hundreds of mobile apps that allow you to compare prices across brands. The rise of digital applications within the shopping experience of traditional brick and mortar has made it more competitive than ever to break into the retail space and run a profitable retail business. Companies without a defined digital strategic plan are especially at a disadvantage.

The decline of middle-market “mall brands”:

As shoppers splinter their shopping between toward budget-friendly fast fashion and splurge-worthy luxury retail. These are certainly big changes with no end in sight. However, these are not the biggest issues facing growing retailers at the moment — the most pressing problem is that a majority of brands don’t know WHO their customers actually are.

All businesses have a target audience of whom they want their product to speak to and an assumption about who goes into their stores, buys their goods and ultimately serve as informal brand ambassadors on their own behalf. However, based on my seven years of experience working for The Gap (a major retailer that has struggled with all of the above disconnects for over a decade), and now with numerous clients at Hawke Media, it’s surprising how much “gut” is still seen as the most important business driver by many executives in the industry, even in 2015.

Retail isn’t an exact science. No one knows exactly what customers are going to purchase twelve months, six months or even one week from now. But the breadth and depth of analytics and customer touch points provides modern merchants and marketers with penetrating insight into who their customers ARE, versus who they WANT them to be. Open rates, site visits and discount rates are no longer the only key metrics to look for as a modern online retailer. Custom audience pixels (provided by cutting edge data platforms like Quantcast) can be used for more than just traditional display retargeting — in 2015 (RIGHT NOW) you can use knowledge of affinities, interests, sites trafficked and so much more to build advanced lookalike-targeting campaigns and predictive intelligence. These are just some of the exciting things that modern businesses can do to fill their upper funnel with the RIGHT consumers (ones who are most likely to purchase) and to optimize digital marketing efforts for years to come.

What are the benefits? There are many, including:

  • Higher consumer satisfaction
  • Higher returns on marketing spend
  • Lower overall costs (both in terms of digital and, possibly, product)
  • Fewer headaches caused by going after the wrong audience

All positive indicators in my opinion!

Digital marketing can be scary in many ways, especially to established retailers. The brands that properly embrace digital and leverage it as a learning tool to learn more about their customer preferences are able to respond quicker to changes in consumer shopping patterns.

Don’t get left behind. Add data driven strategy to your business planning today and reap the benefits sooner than you’d think.

At Hawke Media we believe that the true differentiating factor between good and great is a strong strategic plan.  We have a expert team of former top marketing executives supported by digital marketers and e-commerce strategists who are ready to assist.  If you are facing some of the issues described above, please feel free to reach out for a free marketing consultation.

About: Hawke Media is full service outsourced CMO and digital advertising agency with clients in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, Chicago and New York.

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