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28 Retail Marketing Predictions To Watch In 2018

2017 was the year where the marketer’s role in retail changed drastically and retail businesses (both pure-play and omni-channel retailers) had to come to terms with a new playing field that required them to disrupt their own strategy at every turn. Amongst a very long list, this included understanding the next generation of customers, learning how AI can help them in their role, maximising sales during Black Friday and key shopping days, preparing for GDPR (in Europe), building personalisation into the core customer experience, implementing new solution providers to the marketing stack and experimenting with new technologies and tactics to see what works.

Senior executives and C-suites from leading retail and marketing technology companies share their views here on what they predict 2018 holds for retail and marketing:

  1. New Roles “Brands that are leveraging data science today are largely forced to do the heavy lifting themselves. That will change in 2018 – we’ll have tools that won’t just manage analysis; they’ll also prescriptively recommend and execute the best course of action based on a marketer’s desired outcome. Not only will the technology actually deliver on those promises, it will also be broadly accessible to all growth-oriented ecommerce brands. All of this will culminate in the marketing function shifting away from monotonous administrative tasks. Roles that are nearly entirely dedicated to operating software, for example, will start to be phased out – both in house and across the broader services industry. Marketers will be forced into – or more accurately, will finally be able to experience – roles that are increasingly strategic, creative, and above everything else: customer experience oriented.” – Agata Celmerowski, VP of Marketing, Klaviyo.

  2. Email, SMS and Push Notifications “Multichannel marketing – targeting consumers at each stage of their path to purchase through email, SMS, push notifications and more will cease to be an afterthought and instead become a baseline necessity for successful marketing in 2018.” – Joshua Neckes, Co-Founder, Simon Data.

  3. Visual Search “The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and particularly visual recognition will continue momentum in opening up new and exciting sales opportunities for retailers. For example visual search for products will grow particularly via mobile and the monetisation of eCommerce imagery via automated product tagging will bring new revenue streams in 2018.” – Alex Vaidya, CEO & Co-Founder, StoryStream.

  4. Multi-Format Video “Broadcast TV and digital will roll into a single, more aligned cross-screen video campaign strategy. Instead of television functioning independently of data-driven digital approaches, marketers will begin to integrate the big screen into more commonplace addressable tactics (desktop, mobile, social, native) to deliver relevant advertising experiences at the household level. I expect advanced marketers to test this in the first part of the year and for this to become more prevalent by the end of 2018.” – Jon Setty, Managing Director UK, Eyeview.

  5. Multi-Channel Personalisation “Personalisation will emerge as a must-have capability in retail brands to retain customers. Retailers will prefer to work with vendors with complete customer engagement and activation stack rather than with multiple point solution vendors to increase ROI, improve operational efficiency and to better customer experience.” – Anoop Vasisht, GM EMEA, Dynamic Yield. “The next level of personalisation will address real-time decision making and will help brands understand how a consumer’s behaviour from pre, point of and post conversion can serve as a guide to more meaningful connections.” – Tom Rolph, VP EMEA, Tapad.

  6. AI for Customer Insights “Utilising new AI technologies on mobile devices, passive data collection methods that increase user understanding; demographics, behaviour, interests and intent will drive personalisation at scale and increase relevancy and engagement.” – Henry White, VP Strategy at Pixoneye.

  7. Location Intelligence “In 2018, brands will place greater emphasis on location intelligence. By analysing historical location data and detailed behavioural patterns, brands will gain comprehensive insights into consumer preferences and habits which can be used for hyper-targeted campaigns.” – Gil Larsen, VP Americas, Blis.

  8. Email “The majority of email revenue will come from automated email programmes using different kinds of triggers such as price drop triggers, behavioural website and lifestyle triggers, abandoned product triggers and more.” – Jared Blank, Senior Vice President, Data Analysis and Insights, Bluecore.

  9. Ad Spend “Facebook (including Instagram) and Google will continue to drive the vast majority of ad spend for commerce, while popular platforms like Snapchat and Twitter that haven’t cracked the code on direct-to-consumer selling will refocus their efforts on branding and cultivating community.” – Tomer Tagrin, Co-founder and CEO, Yotpo.

  10. Social Advertising “2018 is the year that social advertising grows up: more platforms will enter the market and formats like voice search will transform social ads.” – R.J. Talyor, CEO, Quantifi.

  11. Mobile Marketing “The retailers and e-commerce companies that will see the biggest growth in 2018 will be those that are able to truly own their digital customer relationships. As the capabilities of mobile devices evolve and become more powerful, smart marketers will look to offer amazing new personalised experiences to customers and mobile users, while capitalising on the data these interactions produce. With more marketing budgets continuing to shift to mobile, businesses that master their ability to measure and act on their mobile data will have the ultimate competitive advantage.” – Ran Avrahamy, VP Global Marketing, AppsFlyer.

  12. Mobile Wallets “Mobile wallets are known for making payments a breeze, but more brands will leverage wallets for non-payment activities, like coupon redemption and ticket scanning, all to bolster brand loyalty and customer retention. Tools like these market your brand proactively – you can reach the consumer directly, rather than them having to hunt through their phone to find your app.” Jack Philbin, Co-Founder & CEO, Vibes.

  13. Let’s chat? “In 2017 companies were more focused on the information that chatbots provide to customers rather than their conversational skills. However, this year businesses will look at ‘the tone of voice’ to use chatbots not only in sales but also to deepen relations with customers and support the company’s communication strategy.” – Szymon Klimczak, CMO, LiveChat.

  14. Conversational assistants “Whether via messaging platforms, smart speakers or email, marketers will be able to leverage new tools to have ongoing conversations with their customers. Brands who successfully deliver hyper-personalised content and product recommendations via these channels will build stronger relationships with consumers across the home, in-store and mobile.” – Andy Maury, CEO and co-founder, Automat.

  15. Digital Content “Channels like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are magnifying an age-old problem: the content crunch. It has become extremely challenging for brands to drive interesting, engaging content across all the channels modern consumers have adopted. Rather than out-sourcing content creation, brands will increasingly look to bring content – of all types – in house in 2018.” – Brad Rencher, EVP & GM, Digital Marketing, Adobe.

  16. Internet of Everything “We’ll see more adoption of technologies like NFC in 2018, as more and more brands recognise the benefit of integrating interactive tags into packaging and bringing connected products into the Internet of Everything (IoE) – a natural extension of the IoT. We’ll see brands and marketers reaching out more through the mobile devices that both millennial and Gen Z consumers already carry, as it presents the best opportunity to engage that audience.” – Davor Sutija, CEO, Thinfilm.

  17. Influencer ROI “Brands and retailers will continue to increase investment into ​influencer marketing but will be under pressure to show tangible ROI from their efforts. The ability to link sales metrics to influencer activations will be of increasing importance prompting marketers to integrate direct purchasing capabilities into influencer activations.” – Eric Sheinkop, Co-Founder & CEO, desirelist.

  18. Flexible Payments “Retailers will use new innovations to make their online checkouts smarter. “Bill splitting” will start appearing in more online shops, where users can split the cost of their online purchases at the checkout point, saving them the hassle of chasing friends or family for repayment.” – Alison Sagar, Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Consumer, PayPal UK.

  19. Online Authentication “This is the year of consumer blockchain applications, whether you’re aware of them or not. In 2018, we’ll start to see passwords dying out, as blockchain security and identity takes over for e-commerce and retail. #PasswordsRIP 1996-2018”- Alastair Johnson, Founder and CEO, Nuggets.

  20. Data Monogamy “Aggregated and anonymised big data, gained without user consent that has swamped the industry for the past decade will no longer be accepted. Marketers will have technology at their disposal to gain accurate user data directly from their customers through user consent, without going to a third party – we call this data monogamy.” – Henry White, VP Strategy, Pixoneye.

  21. Who owns the Data? “I think this year will see retailers and brands start to reclaim ownership of their data, and better understand its value and the benefits of building deeper and more effective relationships with customers. This will be fast-tracked by GDPR in Europe which should be seen as an opportunity to build a better customer experience, rather than a business impediment. I expect this means some businesses will start to fall out with Google and choose to be less reliant on paying for their customers many times over. But in an age when brands are fighting the ambiguity that digital channels create, it’s no surprise that there will be a refocus on targeted, relevant communications for a refined and engaged database.” – Peter Ellen, CEO and Founder, Big Data for Humans.

  22. Pooling of Data Assets “Brands and retailers concerned about the walled gardens of Amazon and Facebook will continue to pool data assets to personalise content, increase profits and improve customer relationships while in turn achieving the scale similar to today’s digital giants and better connecting both online and offline data to understand the winding customer journey.” – Jonathan Opdyke, Chief Strategy Officer, Criteo.

  23. Artificial Intelligence for Marketing “2018 will also be the year when retail leaders finally embrace the critical importance of A.I. – and fast. Not as a shiny new gimmick on the periphery of core operations, but integrated into their business to deliver a better customer experience, revenue and profit. Taking a look at last year’s Christmas results, you can see that the retailers who aren’t there yet and are struggling to transform an outdated business model have suffered the consequences. There is a level of confusion about A.I. and a sense of panic at the speed of change in the modern retail landscape, but if customer-centricity and staying competitive are the goals, getting to grips with A.I. is easily done and is the fastest and most efficient way to drive positive change.” – Peter Ellen, CEO and Founder, Big Data for Humans.

  24. AI-powered Customer Service “Phone trees and email customer service are on the decline. Social messaging and automated, AI-powered bots supported by seasoned social agents are in. Social messaging and artificial intelligence (AI) are ready and waiting for customer service leaders to use in the race to serve customers faster, better, and more efficiently than ever before.” – Joshua March, Founder and CEO, Conversocial.

  25. Consumers will trust AI to do their shopping “Smart assistants will continue to see an uptick in adoption and consumers will increasingly use them to recommend and purchase products for them.” – Cassandra Girard, Vice President, Head Consumer and Travel Industries, SAP Hybris.

  26. No more returns? “Retailers will have to look closely at who they offer free returns to and will likely punish serial returners and set minimum purchase amounts for qualifying for free returns.” – Patrick Eve, Managing Director, ZigZag Global.

  27. Convenience “The future is not just fast but flexible, and convenient delivery is needed to match consumers’ increasingly mobile lifestyles. Our research indicates that consumers would be happy to pay some kind of premium for a more convenient delivery option. While people would historically have had to plan in advance for an event, that’s not the world we live in anymore.” – David Saenz, COO, Stuart.

  28. Online to Offline “Many more e-commerce companies will begin to open up bricks and mortar locations in 2018 as part of a transition to small format retail spaces.” – Mark Ryski, Founder & CEO, HeadCount.

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Partner Spotlight: Q&A with RSi’s Ansa


Partner Spotlight: Q&A with RSi’s Ansa

Question 1: How long have you been at RSi and what is your role?
For the past three years, I have been responsible for creating and scaling Ansa, a web-based solution from RSi – Retail Solutions, Inc., that has enabled over 75 of the world’s largest CPG companies and their agencies to build, measure and maximize the performance of their shopper marketing campaigns running in support of the nation’s leading retailers. I am responsible for all aspects of business development, partner and agency relationships and the overall revenue growth of Ansa.

Question 2: How does RSi help solve marketer challenges?
Shopper marketers’ biggest challenge is to connect their online campaigns to in-store results. RSi’s Ansa solution provides the intelligence they need, based on daily, store-level POS-data from the largest US retailers in order to plan, target, and measure the impact of their shopper marketing campaigns. Retail Solutions Inc. has partnered with the leading ad networks in Shopper Marketing, such as Blis, to make Ansa’s automated analytics available for the world’s largest CPG companies and their agencies. To measure and maximize their digital ad campaigns, all they need to do is ask for Ansa inside their next campaign.

Question 3: What benefits does the partnership with Blis bring to buyers as well as the adtech ecosystem?
With RSi’s Ansa solution, building, dynamically optimizing, and reviewing attribution measures for every digital ad campaign has never been so simple. Here is how it works:
1. STORE-LEVEL TARGETING: automatically get from Ansa your store targeting data as store addresses, lat/longs or by Ansa Digital ZIPs to identify stores with the greatest sales potential prior to launching hyper-local media.
2. IN-FLIGHT OPTIMIZATION: see in real-time how sales are trending in your targeted stores vs. a 52-week historical average, and get access to dynamic optimization lists that can guide budget reallocation.
3. MEASUREMENT & INSIGHTS: get access via the online portal to end of campaign analysis just days after the media campaign is over. Visualizations give you a standardized set of analytics, such as sales lift, incremental dollars and units, confidence level, weekly lift, characteristics of high performing stores, etc. Prove and improve your media to help you fine-tune strategies for your future campaigns.

Question 4: What are use cases for the Blis + RSi partnership? (Please provide a few examples from different verticals).
If you are a shopper marketer, maximizing your budgets, understanding performance of your marketing tactics and generating key learnings from those marketing tactics are tasks that are essential to your business.

Running a digital marketing campaign with Blis, and Ansa’s daily, store-level sales intelligence helps make that extremely for the CPG community and shopper marketers specifically.

For existing products, Blis campaigns using Ansa targeting can reach a targeting efficiency of 2:1 vs. campaigns that do not use Ansa store-level targeting thereby ensuring that every dollar is spent driving sales to your most important retailer locations.

Blis campaigns optimized with Ansa typically identify and heavy up investment around 16% of stores that are trending significantly ahead of the average store during a campaign and identify and decrease investment around 14% of stores that are trending significantly behind the average store, therefore ensuring that your budget is being optimized surrounding stores that are over-performing during a given campaign.

After each Blis campaign, Ansa automatically generates measurement of Featured Item Lift and Halo Item Lift at both the total event and week levels. Results are completed 5 business days after the end of each campaign and allow you to learn quickly and improve continuously, all at an amazingly affordable price.

Question 5: What shopper marketing measurement trends do you predict for 2018?
Optimization in-flight based on store sales trends during campaign. Optimizing on engagement, intent and / or clicks may be ok for some campaigns but more and more frequently shopper marketers are tasked with driving sales at their most important retailers. And understanding how their marketing tactics performed 5-6 weeks after a campaign has finished is just not fast enough anymore in today’s fast paced world and puts media providers at a severe disadvantage. By utilizing automated reporting that allows Ansa partners like Blis to understand and optimize their media in-flight based on daily, store-level POS sales data you now empower your media partner to act on supporting the stores that are driving your product sales which can ultimately provide a powerful boost to a shopper marketing campaign.

Question 6: If there was one piece of content you think every marketer should read, what is it?
(Other than this blog post of course!)

Think with Google and Facebook IQ are two fantastic sources of resources. Articles, trends, case studies, POVs, insights, etc… pretty much everything you need to read to keep you up-to-speed in this very fast-paced environment.

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Meet, Greet and Keep: How Mobile Can Help Brands Throughout the Sales Funnel


Meet, Greet and Keep: How Mobile Can Help Brands...

Our mobile devices give us more than just a way to call or text friends and family: Today, they are our maps, books, radios, and miniature shopping malls. We turn to them for news, entertainment and answers. And from dawn till dusk, we keep them at our sides like our most faithful companions.

So it’s no wonder mobile devices have become integral to an advertiser’s ability to reach their ideal audiences at every stage of the sales funnel. Here’s how brands can employ effective mobile advertising strategies to acquire, engage and retain customers.

Win Over New Customers

One of the best ways for advertisers to identify new audiences is to see where they shop. But without access to a competitor’s first-party purchase data or information about their website traffic, how can advertisers find this out?

Mobile devices provide the answer. By revealing where consumers go, mobile location data can tell brands which consumers spend their time browsing similar products at a competitor’s store. Let’s say Target wants to reach out to consumers who usually shop at Walmart. They can use location data to identify—then target—those who frequently visit the competitor yet still live near a Target store.

But brands need to be careful before jumping to conclusions about consumers. Real-time location data provides important insights, but they can be strengthened when paired with historical location data.

For example, just because someone visits a high-end boutique like Chanel, it doesn’t mean that person has the budget to shop there—they could just be browsing. How can an upscale fashion brand find out which of those Chanel visitors are actually potential shoppers? Here, historical location data can help. It can reveal, for instance, which of those visitors go to private airports a few times a month or regularly visit Giorgio Armani or Versace stores. Chances are, these consumers will be a better bet for the fashion brand seeking to acquire new customers.

Keep Them Interested

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? For most of us, it’s look at our phones to turn off our alarms before checking the weather and scrolling through our Twitter feeds. And throughout the day, we continue to stare down into the faces of our mobile devices: checking the news on the train, sending an email between meetings, or watching videos from our living room sofas.

In order to engage consumers on the devices we use day in and day out, advertisers will need to serve ads that make sense for the consumer depending on where they are during the day. To do this, advertisers must first ask the question: What do consumers want to see on their mobile devices and when? Consumers spend a third of their time online watching videos, for instance, but they aren’t going to watch a 30-second video ad while walking down the street.

To boost engagement, brands can use knowledge about a consumer’s historical and real-time whereabouts to reach out at the time and place that will produce the greatest level of engagement. To effectively grab the attention of a consumer that’s out and about, a banner ad may work best. Later that evening, when the consumer is at home using a tablet or laptop, a longer video on a larger screen may work well.

Inspire Loyalty

How can brands make sure they retain the new and existing customers they’ve worked so hard to gain? They must first recognize and show appreciation for their most loyal customers.

Most advertisers identify loyal customers by looking at newsletter subscriptions and online purchase histories, but they may be missing other valuable customers who prefer to shop in stores. By identifying devices that frequently visit a brand’s store location, advertisers can make sure they are recognizing—and thanking—all their biggest fans. When an existing customer comes into a store a certain number of times, for example, advertisers can deliver a thank-you message—perhaps offering the loyal customer a generous coupon to redeem in-store.

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Retailers’ Golden Ticket to Reviving Brick and Mortar Stores


Retailers’ Golden Ticket to Reviving Brick and Mortar Stores

Interested in understanding how to connect mobile experiences to physical stores? Or how mobile can be the extension of a retailer’s store? Maybe you’ve wondered about the new Cost-Per-Visit metric? Look no further. Blis’ location data experts will be answering these questions on a weekly basis over the next few months in our ‘Retail Series’ which aims to equip retail marketers with the right insights and top tips to stay ahead of the game.

Following its decision to buy e-commerce company last year, Walmart recently agreed to acquire Bonobos, a retailer with a strong online presence and generous shipping policies. If these moves weren’t sign enough that the physical and digital retail worlds are merging, Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods is the ultimate wake-up call.

Retailers everywhere are realizing that while brick and mortar stores are still critical, they’ll need a strong digital strategy to keep them filled with happy customers. Mobile devices are retailers’ golden ticket to connecting with consumers and reviving in-store shopping.

Understanding Consumers though Mobile

Whether they are going to work or going shopping, consumers carry their phones with them wherever they go. As a result, mobile devices provide retailers with a constant stream of valuable consumer insights. GPS and Wi-Fi data can tell retailers, for instance, whether a consumer is at a desktop at work, connected to Wi-Fi at home, or walking past a retailer’s store.

Beyond real-time location data, retailers can use historical location data to understand a consumer’s habits. For example, some consumers might visit a luxury jewelry brand on Fifth Avenue just to browse, even if they have no intention (or monetary means!) of buying. Thus, for that specific retailer, in-store visits may not indicate ideal customers. Instead, that luxury retailer can look at historical location data to identify their ideal consumers: perhaps individuals who frequently stay at the Four Seasons Hotel or regularly check in to exclusive country clubs.

But retailers shouldn’t rely on mobile data alone. By layering mobile insights with other valuable sources of data, advertisers can gain a holistic picture of their perfect audiences. Data collected from laptops, for instance, can reveal browsing histories and online shopping patterns; however, consumers won’t be opening up their laptops while shopping in stores. The trick is for retailers to match the data across devices to unique mobile device IDs. Only then will they gain a more holistic understanding of consumers and will be able to target or retarget them with products they are likely to go buy.

Driving Foot Traffic Creatively

Once they’ve gotten a clear and thorough understanding of their ideal audiences, how can retailers use mobile devices to drive foot traffic? Proximity targeting—delivering ads to consumers when they come within a certain distance of a store location—is a common approach. Retailers can maximize the power of proximity targeting by crafting unique and imaginative creatives.

For instance, advertisers can deliver ads to shoppers already in the area to tell them about an in-store sale, or offer them a coupon they can only redeem in person. Retailers can also deliver ads that feature a handy map telling consumers how to find their store.

Sometimes, targeting consumers when they are walking by a store may be a little too late. A QSR wanting to boost its 10 am breakfast crowd, for instance, may want to target consumers when they wake up around 7a and begin planning their day. Otherwise, the consumer has most likely already made their breakfast choice.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for retailers looking to connect with consumers and drive in-store sales, a strong mobile strategy is key. As the digital and physical worlds continue to blend, retailers must harness the insights and capabilities of mobile to reach their unique brand objectives.

Tune in next week to read all about how mobile is fast becoming the extension of a retailer’s store.

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