Shopper marketing has been around for a long time, but it’s been typically applied to the offline world. With more and more consumers retail buying online, brands are transitioning their shopper marketing focus to the digital realm.
At the heart of winning with this channel is shopper-centricity; an understanding of how to best engage and influence consumers throughout their journey. To do that, marketers need the right data on hand to navigate decision-making. That’s not always an easy task, but brands that are able to fill their data gaps can make the strategic calls which can be the difference between winning and failing.
In the Cleveland Research Center webinar entitled Winning Today Across Different Retailers in a Different World With a Differentiated Strategy through Data & Intelligence, Skai Ecommerce’s Nich Weinheimer and Megan Harbold discuss this topic and offer best practices for brands looking to master their online shopper marketer opportunities.
At the start of the webinar, attendees were polled to see how they felt about their organization’s data maturity. Over half responded that they didn’t have access to data to evaluate their commerce marketing investments.
With the surge of ecommerce adoption stemming from the pandemic, the online contribution is no longer just a small slice of the commerce pie. And more importantly, it’s where the growth is happening. US ecommerce grew 18% in 2020 while brick & mortar retail decreased by 14% over the same period.
Brands who may have not prioritized this channel until now need to realize that they cannot wait any longer to build a retail intelligent digital shopper marketing practice. It’s a market imperative.
Brands need a true mindset shift to best align with today’s shoppers
“We really need to know inside our organizations when are we moving from this emerging concept [digital shopper marketing] to where it becomes critical to better understand how we should invest in it,” says Weinheimer. “If you’re waiting for a roadsign, there probably won’t be one.”
Weinheimer goes on to explain that the problem is truly systemic and that most companies’ organizational structures are too outdated to win at online commerce. An alarming 71% of companies report that they are only keeping pace or just catching up to support the channel. Compounding the problem is that nearly 4 out of 10 (38%) of brands adopt offline strategies versus developing bespoke, online experiences for their shoppers.
“The concept around shopper marketing is nothing new,” says Harbold. “But we need to set the foundation for how it works best in the online world.”
Shopper marketers are tasked with providing the best experience while identifying & nurturing their company’s most valuable segments. That means understanding the shopper and their needs across their journey with your brand, i.e.becoming shopper-centric.
And to be shopper-centric, especially online, you must have the data to guide you.
Leveraging data for digital shopper-centricity
While keeping the shopper in mind has been the focus of shopper marketing for decades, there is a mindset shift required in order to reach today’s consumers. Being successful at commerce requires the utilization of a shopper-centric marketing approach combined with the organizational and strategic agility to action data in meaningful ways.
Harbold explains that there are many benefits to embracing a data-driven approach:
Drive creation and optimization of products. Shopper-centric and product-centric are very close. When you know your shopper better, you can develop the right products for them. Having the right data in place can ensure that your go-to-market strategy is optimized at the start of product ideation.
Mature business and marketing strategies. Clarity comes from the right data and gives you the right direction. By becoming more shopper-centric, brands will have more confidence in their decision-making and a clearer line-of-site to where they are heading.
Optimize for and reduce the shoppers’ pain points. This means not just being aligned to the shopper, but how best to sell to them. What makes them purchase? What things do I need in place to avoid a negative experience? Brands need to be thinking that granularly to align to the shopper.
Place the customer’s shopping desires at that retailer, first. It’s about aligning you to your shopper at a specific retailer whether they are offline, online, or omnichannel. The world is changing rapidly, a data-driven, shopper-centric practice will be able to help brands make the right decisions to solve problems they don’t even have yet.
The Shopper Influencer Loop: a shopper-centricity model
“I appreciate this model more than the antiquated funnel,” says Harbold. “I think this loop reflects more of what today’s shoppers go through today. It’s not just taking them from top to bottom, but through a loop that continuously engages shoppers on their journey.”
Brands need to audit their data sources to understand which data they need to go and gather in order to be shopper-centric. It starts by knowing which bubbles along the journey you have access to, which points you need help from your retailer partners, and what data you need to help you the most when they are at a specific point of the journey.
Only by filling gaps in their data world will brands be able to maintain shopper-centricity across the Influence Loop. That’s a new need here and why an updated organizational structure is also needed in order to leverage the data agilely.
And remember, not all retailers have the same journey. There’s a different loop for each retailer/publisher so shopper marketers must have a very strong data foundation in order to master the loop for each partner they work with.
Skai Ecommerce for retail intelligent advertising
As you have probably realized by now, shopper marketers have a lot on their plates. That’s why leading brands and agencies leverage Skai’s advanced optimization, analytics & automation solutions to get started quickly, navigate new ad formats and drive growth across Amazon, Walmart, Target.com & Instacart.
The concept of retail intelligent advertising is what is driving our roadmap and our innovation. We know that data & intelligence are key to shopper-centricity so we are putting the necessary pieces into place for our clients.
If you haven’t seen Skai Ecommerce before, please reach out to schedule a quick demo to see everything it has to offer.