In Darwin’s theory, evolution is the process of change that species go through in order to survive, adapting to various challenges around them. This past year has certainly brought its challenges and, with it, sped up this process of retail evolution: in order to survive, brands must keep up with the digital challenges and opportunities, or else face extinction. We’ve even seen huge leaps in change, with high street stalwarts, such as Topshop and Debenhams, being welcomed under the digital pure play umbrellas of ASOS and BooHoo. Whilst time will tell how these brands will develop, one thing is for certain: they’re facing a digital future.
The Future of Digital Marketing
This week, we attended ‘The Future of Digital Marketing’ webinar, run by digital marketing agency, Hallam. Julio Taylor, CEO of Hallam, encouraged businesses that now is the perfect “time to rebuild”.
He said: “When it comes to ecommerce, the technology that brands have needed to adopt is a permanent feature, such as click and collect. Digital has to be firmly at the centre of any recovery or expansion plans. A website is a great equaliser but also a great risk: they’re the most important employee of sorts in your company. In the same way you’d invest in your sales teams, you need to invest in your website (and digital presence).”
Getting Consumer Attention
Having a website or having your products online isn’t enough anymore. Julio explained: “We now exist in the attention economy: every single company is competing for human attention. In this massively increased world of digital activity, how do you stand out? Prioritising the human behind the ad is what the economy will be built on in the future. This is amplified and multiplied when you factor in Millennials and Gen Z. This younger generation of decision makers have incredibly high expectations and digital is a non-negotiable component of interaction for them. This generational transition means there’s no going back – you have to double-down on digital as it’s not reversible.”
So, with this competition for attention, how can retailers cut through the noise and improve the customer experience? Copywriting teams must be specific: for many brands, the consumer using ASOS’ app is unlikely to be the same as the audience shopping the same item on John Lewis’ website. By using tools such as OMIO PIM, retailers can hone their product information, being audience and channel-specific for how they communicate through tone or colloquialisms.
Keep Things Consistent
The generational expectations of a digital-first approach also mean that younger consumers don’t expect to see gaps; whether they’re shopping via a brand’s own website, their Instagram page or a concession partner, product data must be cohesive across all customer touch points. Any errors in this only contribute to a negative customer experience: where digital selling channels have existed previously as off-shoots of a brand’s bricks-and-mortar presence, lockdown has sped up the evolution of the importance of digital, the way we shop – and our expectations as a result of it.
As Julio added: “It’s time to rebuild on a human-first basis. In these changing times, digital is the only constant: now is the time to take digital seriously. Digital is the most reliable channel – as lockdown has shown us, whatever happens, people are buying online. It’s time to reset, to rethink and to rebuild differently.”
Want to read more about the importance of digital in retail?
In our white paper ‘Survival of the Fastest’, we explore:
- Key ecommerce trends
- The latest digital developments
- The importance of speed to market: who’s getting it right?
- The tips and tools to get on top