Key areas of focus for retail advertisers in 2020: Cross-channel strategies and delivery models

Key areas of focus for retail advertisers in 2020: Cross-channel strategies and delivery models Wesley MacLaggan has been working with Marin Software since 2008. He is currently Senior Vice President of Marketing at Marin Software. Previously he led the Product team where he was responsible for driving Marin’s roadmap and working closely with engineering to deliver innovative advertising solutions to the market. He has over a decade’s experience developing and delivering analytical enterprise SaaS applications, including four years with Applied Predictive Technologies working on their platform to help retailers maximize the return on their promotional spending. Mr. MacLaggan began his career providing strategic guidance to companies in a range of industries with Mercer Management Consulting. He holds an Economics degree from Dartmouth College.

Now that we are into 2020, there will no doubt be many metaphor-infused mentions of vision, sight, and awareness. In the world of advertising, foresight is just as important as hindsight. Being able to predict future innovations and consumer behaviours means keeping on top of not only late-breaking industry news and cutting-edge innovations, but also knowing what lies further ahead in the digital advertising space.

We’ve taken the pulse of the industry and identified five things that every retail advertiser should know this year.

Grey markets

A grey market is the legal sale of a product outside of the manufacturer’s preferred distribution channel. This is in contrast to a black market, where a product’s very creation is outright illegal.

While the sale of grey market products isn’t prohibited, as a retailer, you’d probably like to ensure that your competition’s playing fair and according to industry customs and standards. Furthermore, grey markets are simply bad for retailers, from loss of revenue to lack of control over who sells your products.

Although completely eliminating global grey markets is an ongoing battle, you can take certain steps to minimise the impact of grey market sellers.

  • Follow the rules: Determine what the rules for your region are and make sure you’re not breaching them
  • Implement smart tracking practices: Assign different model numbers to the same item in different countries, even though the functions of the item are identical. This way, you can more easily pinpoint when something’s being sold on the grey market
  • Understand publisher options: Google, eBay, and other platforms allow you to submit a request to remove ads for a grey market product that violate copyright or trademark laws

Reviews and ratings

Most businesses know that online reviews are important. What’s a bit more challenging is how to maximise the number of positive reviews and ratings, and to keep them once you have them.

To encourage positive reviews, be sure to:

  • Know where the reviews are: Make sure you have a presence on all the sites that are relevant to your business and monitor them regularly
  • Ask your existing customers: Be direct and create a campaign, including a tracked link to the review page, designed to generate positive feedback
  • Share positive reviews to social media: Positive feedback is a great way of boosting brand awareness and presenting your company in a good light
  • Quickly respond to negative reviews: Getting back to the negative reviews with a positive message shows them that you take customer satisfaction seriously. Answering with understanding and compassion can often calm an irate customer, and they may even delete their negative post
  • Test to see what works: As with all things in digital marketing, test, improve, and repeat

Alongside encouraging positive reviews, ensuring your reviews remain relevant and positive is also highly important. You can do this by maintaining regular contact with your customers and continually providing a top-notch service.

Your cross-channel strategy

Once you have a solid plan of attack against grey markets and your positive reviews are flowing in, it’s time to implement or rethink your cross-channel advertising strategy.

There are three basic components to stellar cross-channel ad campaigns:

  • The when: Determine the best time to launch a product. You’ll definitely want to create ad campaigns around a product that’s new to market, but also be sure to consider seasonality, your competition, and any news about a similar product that may have been negative
  • The what: Make sure your product listing is a good, strong one. Be explicit and concise about your product’s specifications and pricing, and include a clear set of images with a few different angles. Write a great product description, including attributes such as colour, gender (or unisex), and how many are in left in stock
  • The how: Create a strategy that has your ads appearing on all platforms where your existing and potential customers are searching and shopping—Google, Facebook, Amazon, and eCommerce websites

By setting up your ad campaigns to work in tandem and across channels, you’ll see a “multiplier effect” that will bring you significantly more consumers who are not only more likely to convert, but also likely to spend more.

Your delivery practices

With Amazon and Walmart under pressure to deliver products in one day, and the sharing economy expected to grow by an astronomical 2292% by 2025, “fast” for consumers is no longer an expectation but a given.

With 88% of consumers willing to pay for it, is your business set up to provide next-day or same-day shipping? Are you on board with BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store)?

To complement your delivery practices, be aware and constantly attuned to price wars. Do you know “how low can you go”? To ensure the price is right, consider freebies and VIP incentives such as loyalty programs, special promotions, and cost adjustments for new or “veteran” customers. Highlight your premier products, or add features to a lagging product to make it more enticing.

The latest innovations

As 2020 truly moves into full swing, retailers continue to question whether voice commerce will be the “next big thing.” Our take is that ‘next’ is ‘now’. As eMarketer reports, the vast majority of voice assistant users are already speaking up and researching products. If you haven’t already, now’s the time to take this technology seriously.

We’re also having an “all wrists on deck” moment. Wearables are making some noise, and if Facebook’s recent acquisition of CTRL-Labs is any indication, this space will only get louder.

Retail—and especially eCommerce—is also rapidly growing, with more and more consumers flocking to sites like Amazon, Walmart, and others. Each Amazon Prime subscriber alone places 60 orders a year.

Automated solutions for dayparting, reporting, and other tools can improve your eCommerce advertising performance, and allow you to more easily adapt to the latest eCommerce innovations.

Stay aware of the latest technologies and breakthroughs, assess what works for your business, and flex accordingly.

The upshot

If there is a maxim that retailers can live by, it is “with great innovation comes great responsibility.” Every year—or, every month—brings a new way of doing business or a novel way a competitor has to gain an edge. As a result, retailers and eCommerce advertisers must stay several steps ahead.

Use these tips to spruce up your product feed, crank up the volume on your products’ time to market, and bravely venture forth to discover and try out potentially lucrative opportunities.

May your vision be 2020 this year.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.  

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