03 May, 2018
Malcolm Pinkerton

Five Ways to Conquer Next Generation Commerce

The concept of channels is becoming consigned to the retail history books. The seamless integration of online, offline, logistics and data, across the entire value chain, is set to define next-generation commerce. Those recognising this, and that their products must live, and succeed, in a primarily digital environment, will be better placed to win in tomorrow’s retail world. At every single touchpoint your brand must be correctly represented, discoverable and provide engaging experiences.

1. Adopting a Channel-less mindset

As shoppers we are channel blind and device agnostic – seeing and shopping only the brand. In greater control of our shopping experiences, we’re influenced more by peers and social media influencers than traditional marketing. It is therefore essential for brands to be part of the conversation on our terms. It is now a case of being where shoppers are, not where brands want them to be.

Brands should look to preserve valuable retailer relationships, while growing consumer connections through direct means.

We demand a seamless experience from brands, and mobile, as the one constant throughout the increasingly complex path-to-purchase, has become the ultimate shopping companion. Strong online content, storytelling, and mobile ready hero images are only part of what defines victory here. Mobile is key, but it is worth leaning in with Voice, and keeping an eye on AR/VR. Combined, these have potential to create a truly hands-free seamlessly connected shopping experience.

Brands should look to build solutions with mobile that enable frictionless transition between online and offline, while testing new technology to determine their role moving forward.

2. Sales and Marketing acting as one

Commerce should no longer be defined by channels and touchpoints. Everywhere is a selling and marketing opportunity, with a “sales campaign” and actual “sale” separated by merely a click. The challenge is to create seamless experience in diverse channels, while connecting with consumers in more targeted, effective ways. By expressing their equity, story, and values, in a cohesive, yet flexible way, brands should leverage their content assets as a means of forging new connections, while enhancing the shopper journey. Brands that create rich content and connect it to the point-of-purchase will win our hearts in the future.

Brands should look to experiment with, and expand, content management capabilities, adopting a more integrated approach to engage with consumers on their terms on the platforms they want to use to buy things.

Brands should also see consumers as mini-influencers, an active partner in social selling. Generating engaging, relevant content for deployment on social media, either directly or indirectly, must become part of marketing capabilities and budgets. Sales teams and media agencies must view online and offline touchpoints as media platforms, and marketers must care more about selling.

3. Establish retail ecosystems

We’re pledging advocacy to the provision of solutions and services that resonate with our lifestyles, creating our own retail ecosystems filled with those able to deliver the personalised, seamless, integrated experiences we demand. Strategies should be focused on establishing retail ecosystems that seamlessly blend online and offline channels in a unified way, with the shopper firmly at its heart.

This requires brands to unearth opportunities for different experiences or services. Pioneers are meeting multiple shopping missions through the provision of simple, hassle free online solutions, while creating mission appropriate experiences. Those creating subscription boxes, meal kit solutions, or partnering with intermediaries such as Deliveroo, are reaching consumers in new, convenient, yet exciting ways that resonate. The aim is to redefine commerce by enabling frictionless engagement between online and offline, in new and unexpected ways.

Brands should place greater emphasis on missions, creating solutions that meet a need, solve a pain-point, reduce complexities.

With the rise of internet of things, programmatic and predictive commerce, it is only going to get harder for brands to influence behaviour and become part of a consumer’s retail ecosystems.

Brands will need to gain closer, better relationships with consumers through leveraging data, and engaging in genuinely compelling conversation via social platforms.

4. Smarter Shopper-centricity

Becoming engrained within consumers’ retail ecosystems is only achievable through smarter shopper-centricity. Managing the consumer relationships throughout the life-cycle of a product, from awareness to interest, to purchase, to loyalty, it is imperative to know exactly how to look after consumers at different phases. AI will play an increasingly important role due to its ability to collate and draw meaningful insights from the plethora of data, including social, in-store and transactional. Only through joining-up all the dots to create a truly holistic view of a consumer, will it be possible to implement solutions that deliver on shopper expectations. Data sharing across all parties, and willingness to collaborate, will be imperative to success.

Brands need actionable insight to engage with consumers, who now prefer more natural associations with them rather than feeling as if they’re being marketed to.

5.Brands must think more strategically

More collaboration between brands, retailers, intermediaries, and technology vendors, which includes sharing data and insight, will benefit all parties. The more this happens, the sooner the pain-points that irritate shoppers will disappear, and the factors that win their loyalty take over.

Consumers set the rules, so focus on them over retail customers or competitors. No longer satisfied with mere promises, consumers demand good experiences, so winning brands are those able to establish seamless, continuous interactions at every touchpoint, engaging consumers one-on-one. Listening to shoppers, being experimental, and planning for long-term sustainable success will help ensure you’re effectively represented, discoverable and provide engaging brand experiences.

Connect with me:
Malcolm.pinkerton@kantarconsulting.com and @KantarConsult or @MGQPinkerton  on Twitter plus LinkedIn.

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