Conventional wisdom asks us to accept that big wins come from big investments and while the new retail landscape looks different, it operates by the same rules we’ve been playing by for the past fifty years.
In practice, though, we see brands and retailers increase both their revenue and the efficiency of their ad spend as new technologies upend the traditional playing field. The old playbook is proving inadequate for driving success in the digital age. We need to think about our team, particularly marketing, advertising, and merchandising, differently. To capture ROI, retailers and brands must reimagine these roles, which become more blurred with every passing year, to find and keep their customers.
The tips below outline three areas every brand and retailer should implement as part of their integrated marketing efforts:
Buy Buttons are the New Targeted Ads
Buy buttons on search engines and social platforms – which are essentially advertisements with conversion built in – are now helping retailers and brands create a seamless purchasing experience for consumers. They decrease leakage from the conversion funnel and provide invaluable insight into where customers are coming from and what they are looking for.
In a survey by Boston Retail Partners, 34 percent of North American retailers expected to see an increase in revenue by adding buy buttons to their social media pages. In particular, buy buttons simplify the shopper’s checkout process on smartphones, helping to recoup conversions on a channel that typically yields sub-one percent rates versus the three percent rates more common on desktop browsers and tablets.
If there is one point retailers and brands should take away from consumer research, it’s that shoppers want their experience to be convenient and simple. New tools like buy buttons can be integrated directly into multiple channels and remove the extra steps between an ad and a purchase. It’s a win-win for shoppers and retailers.
Data is a Double Edged Sword
You may think that cleaning up product data for use on ecommerce channels is a hurdle retailers and brands overcame years ago – but data quality challenges have grown along with the proliferation of data meant to support channel partner data compliance, shopping search relevancy, and shopper product evaluations. Ensuring product data is accurate, consistent and complete can make a massive impact on inbound product discoverability and provide a boost for personalized and targeted ads.
Consider when you go on to a site looking for a women’s pink sweater and refine the search to meet your specific requirements. If the product you would really like to buy is classified as “coral,” it may never appear. Product data is essentially the back-end merchandising sibling of front-end digital marketing.
To capture the full opportunity of good product data, retailers and brands should keep data in one centralized catalog with uniform product classifications, category mappings, attribution mappings, and child-SKU variation definitions. Once the infrastructure is in place, you can implement an automated process to optimize the product content by using machine learning and natural language processing to extract, define, and enhance product content on an ongoing basis.
That process can then be integrated with ongoing marketing and advertising campaigns to measure and improve content optimization – by using search and channel data to see which titles, descriptions, and keywords are most effective – and quickly incorporating that feedback across omnichannel use cases. Integrating all of these efforts can result in more accurate and attractive product listings, and ultimately, more revenue and efficiency.
The Twain Shall Meet
Consumers shopping behavior can change quickly, so brands and retailers need to adjust programs fast to take advantage of opportunities and avoid wasted spend. In particular, retailers and brands can see a big lift from applying actionable insights from one channel to another, particularly as the lines for attribution continue to blur. Whereas omnichannel investments in recent years have focused on the integration of online and offline channels, we’re seeing customers expand the definition to include both wholesale and retail channels – and shared best practices.
Taking steps such as combining management of both wholesale (retailer channel) and direct to consumer (D2C) demand generation can increase average daily orders by leveraging shared product content, data optimization, and order fulfillment. The significance here is not only in streamlining coordination from an advertising point of view, but in actually leveraging marketing insights quickly and taking concrete action to adjust strategies and investments.
Advertising, marketing, and merchandising, like participants in any successful relationship, are stronger together than apart, despite – or perhaps because of – their complexities and conflicts. As these previously separate functions become more closely intertwined and symbiotic, retailers and brands will benefit from deeper and broader insights, more effective campaigns, and a more dynamic ecommerce landscape.
Eric Best is CSO for CommerceHub