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Shoppers Demand Relevance. Are You Ready?

J.T. WashJanuary 27, 2017

Innovation is taking two things that already exist and putting them together in a new way.” That’s what Tom Freston, the former president and CEO of MTV, once stated when talking about disruptive innovation in business.

In the ever-changing digital age, marketers live in an auspicious, yet scary, time. The explosion of new connected technologies – such as smartphones, applications, wearables and other Internet of Things devices – has seemingly made unconventional data sources readily accessible to marketers. But with this proliferation, the complexity of untangling all structured and unstructured data sources becomes increasingly messy, leaving most marketers unprepared to deal with the velocity and dynamic nature of consumer data today.

To make things even more confusing for retail marketers, consumers are changing how they shop, increasingly using technology to go online and review products before even stepping foot in a store. This “online first” mentality has grown exponentially in only the past few years due to increasing consumer demand for choice and seamless access to online product reviews and comparative raters.

Statistics show that 90 percent of shoppers now use their smartphone to seek deals while actually in the physical store. Secondly, consumers are now expecting the same personalization during their in-store experience as their digital shopping experience. The aggregation of online and offline touch points is critical for retailers to understand consumers’ expectations and create an exceptional in-aisle customer experience. Store associates must be prepared to engage shoppers with relevant and contextual experiences by tapping into real-time analytics and customer data.

Bringing together all disparate data sets is absolutely essential for achieving continuity between the physical and digital retail experiences. However, fragmentation is often the result due to an often-incomplete series of signals and data points. Adtech and martech tools must integrate to give retailers a transparent and holistic view into its shoppers’ behaviors, activities and preferences. This enables further recognition of shoppers across all channels and identifies brand interactions that take place right up to an actual purchase. It is incumbent upon retail marketers to capture these moments in real time to complete the digital journey, understand all the behaviors that led to action and tie that information back to a single customer view across all channels in a privacy-compliant way. This unshackling from operating exclusively in each system gives way to the concept of working in an Open Garden environment where the marketer takes back control and choice.

As technology evolves, consumer demands will rise faster than marketers can build out traditional integrations at the application layer, which usually are APIs or custom-built connectors. The Open Garden foundation is enabled by next-generation technology that recognizes consumers in a connected ecosystem at the data layer around a single, holistic view of the customer. Marketers need not spend countless hours creating these technical integrations between applications that only account for a few digital channels. The Open Garden provides a collaborative marketing ecosystem that allows all suppliers (platforms, devices and channels) the ability to work together around a single view of the customer to drive more audience value. This data layer foundation enables optimum marketing campaign measurement analytics. This data layer foundation combined with robust analytics delivers relevant cross-channel experience and value. This deeper understanding of consumer behaviors drives better audience segmentation and targeting strategies across digital and offline channels to improve customer experiences and overall marketing performance.

Consumer demands for personalized experiences and technological innovation are both accelerating quickly, creating an efficiency gap between marketers and their tools. Marketers must recognize that the cost of not delivering relevant messages can have serious revenue impact. These types of mistakes can potentially cost large companies millions of dollars in rebuilding their brand image and regaining customer loyalty. In this brave new world, the battle for customers and their dollars is won by the agile retailer willing to implement the necessary steps and prepare for these impending developments. And it all starts with a single view of the customer. Click here to learn more about the Open Garden Movement and how Acxiom can help.