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Top 4 Retail Priorities of 2019

That fresh-start feeling of the new year has officially worn off, and the months are beginning to fly by—putting more pressure on the top priorities you’ve set out to accomplish this year. As retailers try to keep up with constant innovation, competition, and consumer expectations, many are investing in core technologies and strategies to drive results and meet the individual needs of their customers.

These are the top solutions retailers are most focused on right now and how they plan to leverage them effectively in 2019:

1. Omnichannel.

Omnichannel initiatives are highest on retailers’ to-do lists as shoppers continue to blur the lines between channels, touchpoints, and devices. Today’s consumers favor both in-store and digital experiences: 72% say they still frequent brick and mortar more than other channels, yet online shopping sales were reported in February 2019 to be higher than brick-and-mortar sales for the first time ever.

Retailers are focused on investing in omnichannel solutions and tactics that better influence every stage of the customer shopping journey, which includes catering to those customers who favor switching between channels to shop. For example: 90% of shoppers regularly browse online and purchase in-store, and 53% say they are likely to use a Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store option—so, according to Forrester, 73% of retailers are now investing in BOPUS as a top strategy.

To successfully deliver cohesive omnichannel experiences, retail is also prioritizing technology that enables them to unify cross-channel customer behavior and CRM and loyalty data, and marry it with transactional data. Marketers across all industries are investing 26% more in multichannel than any other technology (ie. onsite, social media, email, mobile app, SMS, display). This holistic view of the customer ensures retailers can keep their shoppers’ path to purchase consistent across channels, allow shoppers to buy, receive, and return items across physical and digital channels, and engage customers with consistent messaging no matter where they choose to interact with their brand.

2. Privacy + 3. Personalization.

These two go hand-in-hand, so we’re grouping them together (more on that below). 

Last summer, we released our State of B2C Marketing Report uncovering the key investments, channels, and strategies for marketers in the coming year. We found that no matter the topic, retailers had one thing on their mind: personalization. More specifically, they’re prioritizing how to effectively execute and automate personalized content to create compelling experiences and maximize customer relationships.

Forrester reports that the majority (89%) of digital businesses, from Coca-Cola to Sephora, are investing in personalization. This is creating a ripple effect across the retail industry: the more brands deliver well-executed personalized experiences, the more consumers have come to expect it from everyone they shop with. In fact, 72% of consumers recently said they now only engage with marketing messages tailored to their interests. With that, retailers are focused on improving their web and email experiences, and expanding their personalization efforts into other channels like mobile app, push, and more. 

Personalization isn’t necessarily a new priority for retailers, but this priority has added complexities in 2019. Last year’s events like GDPR and high-profile data breaches have made consumers more skeptical of their data privacy (86% of consumers say they are concerned about it) and more aware of the ways in which brands are using that data to drive them to buy. They’re also rebelling against brands who provide poor personalization—63% of consumers say they will stop purchasing products and services from companies who implement poor or “creepy” personalization tactics, and 47% say they’ll head to Amazon if another brand doesn’t make relevant product suggestions.

The key for retailers when navigating the privacy and personalization landscape this year is to be transparent, secure, and productive with the customer data they collect and prioritize strategies that are respectful of what consumers want in return (find more on that here).

4. Advanced Data & Analytics.

We’ve talked about customer data quite a few times in this post already, but that’s because to be able to successfully focus on improving omnichannel and personalization, it all starts with the data. Retailers are prioritizing advanced data capabilities that give them greater visibility and insights on their customers, and Retail TouchPoints reports 56% of CMOs are more focused on taking a data-driven approach than ever before.

From customer data platforms to identity resolution, data management, orchestration, and activation are some of the biggest themes of 2019, as retailers are looking for ways to leverage data while reducing the manual work of internal teams and breaking down data silos. In addition, retailers are focused on leveraging predictive insights and behavioral intelligence to better anticipate future action and market to specific segments based on past engagement. These insights allow marketers to not only better track what customers are doing, but more accurately prescribe what customers will do next. 

Our Chief Data Scientist said it best in a recent interview with AiThority, “It’s not just current behavior that matters, it’s historical data plus current behavior—what a shopper did months ago, last season, last year, and even over their lifetime can be influential in forming the best marketing message for the client… The challenge (and opportunity) is scaling processing to handle huge volumes of historical data in near real time so that the marketing messages are relevant and timely.” 

Looking for ways to simplify and elevate any of these top retail priorities? We can help