Marketing may be the most vibrant function of any brand. What other department is constantly taking the pulse of customers, assessing the competitive environment, and taking advantage of new channels, emerging trends, and evolving martech solutions – quickly and effectively?

That’s even more true when it comes to retail marketers, who were among the first to jump on new channels like social media, digital advertising, video and more. We recently spoke with some of our clients, partners, and Selligent team members about where they see marketing – and retail marketing specifically– heading in the future. Here’s what they had to say about some of the most critical areas.

Connected Customer Experience

Providing a great, connected, and frictionless customer experience (CX) is one of the key ways retail marketers can differentiate their brands. But some are still failing at it. In a recent Selligent survey, 45% of marketers said they’re not responsible for CX. The reality is, every department is responsible for connecting the customer experience. If you don’t meet and recognize your retail customers wherever they are – in store or online, with a call center agent on the phone or a chatbot on a device – and seamlessly connect every experience, you’ll lose them. Selligent CEO John Hernandez commented on how he sees organizations changing to provide that seamless, connected experience for consumers.

“More and more, we’re seeing companies trying to remove friction for consumers. That could mean improving how customers get access to information on products they want to buy or that they need service on. Accomplishing this falls into multiple departments within an organization: marketing, of course, which needs to flow seamlessly into sales and service, so they understand what the customer is interested in and how to best service them. Organizations are starting to work across boundaries, with sales and service starting to come together with marketing and IT to work on this overall CX strategy, for a more holistic experience.”

Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Advanced Personalization

AI continues to grow in importance for retail marketers, who are using powerful AI engines like Selligent Cortex to create predictive offers and product recommendations. According to Forrester’s report, “Predictions 2020: Artificial Intelligence”: “In 2019, 53% of global data and analytics decision makers say they have implemented, are in the process of implementing, or are expanding or upgrading their implementation of, some form of artificial intelligence.”

Selligent client Jennifer Palerino of retail giant Kroger Digital/Vitacost.com said this about the growth of AI for retail marketers:

“More and more consumers are looking for personalized product recommendations and live content. As a result, many marketers are increasing their focus on AI and utilizing it with collected affinity data.”

Alexei Kounine, Vice President, Innovation & Solution Consulting and AI lead here at Selligent, emphasizes the need for real-time data availability for retail marketers:

“Whether someone purchases something in a brick-and-mortar shop, or makes an online transaction, all of this needs to be integrated very fast in the platform so that the data becomes actionable and campaigns can be triggered that make sense for every individual consumer. Having this data available in real-time will help you run and train algorithms to make your life as a marketer simpler and run AI-powered personalization in a scalable manner.”

Digital Marketing = Data-Driven Marketing

Regular old digital marketing isn’t so “regular” anymore, with data driving retail strategies. One example of the changing nature of digital communications is how marketers are turning operational processes into selling opportunities. Troy Smith, Head of Client Success for Selligent in North America, sees marketing and customer service working together and reaping benefits.

“We will see advanced personalized offers embedded into operational mobile communications – such as shipment notifications – to turn those moments into selling opportunities. Driving that information to consumers on SMS or push notification will maximize those moments and provide offers that are tailored to their preferences and previous purchase behaviors.”

Tanya Rhoades is Managing Director, Loyalty & Enterprise Marketing Solutions Sales for Deluxe Rewards, a company that partners with leading brands to engage and retain customers through innovative rewards and loyalty solutions. Here’s where she sees digital marketers needing to focus:

“If you’re not personalizing, you’re not doing marketing right. Data-driven marketing is instrumental now. That’s based on knowing your customer and also is key to loyalty. And if you don’t know your customer it may be as easy as asking them and giving them options.”

As retail marketers, it’s critical to keep your eyes open and always be looking forward to what’s next; whether that be new communication channels that are available, new martech solutions, or looking to the future and what’s on the horizon. Keeping up with changing needs and delivering optimal, seamless, omnichannel customer experiences is the way forward for retail and ecommerce marketers.

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