Cover Story: A How-to-Do-Everything-Great-in-2012 Guide for Cross-Channel Retailers
How to Make the Most of Mobile
Of the $4 trillion worth of retail commerce transacted in the United States last year, 7 percent was done online. Interestingly, retailers seem to know everything about that 7 percent. Entire ecosystems have been built around e-commerce analytics, messaging promotion and many other categories. Retailers have access to deep analytics providing them with everything from shopping cart abandonment rates to where their customers are coming from to the trajectory they took through the site to the conversion. Until now retailers have known everything about their online sites but very little about where the other 93 percent of retail sales occur — in-store.
Mobile changes this. With more than 50 percent of Americans owning a smartphone by the beginning of 2012, cross-channel retailers need to begin to take advantage of the consumer-location knowledge mobile unlocks — the power to understand, influence and attract shoppers to their retail stores.
The need for retailers to develop a rich, unique mobile shopping experience through a branded, mobile-optimized website and rich app that enables consumers to easily and conveniently search, browse and buy while at home, on the go and in-store has been well documented over the past year. The next major strategic initiative is enabling location-based technology within a retailer’s own branded rich mobile app so it can develop a deeper relationship with consumers by engaging them in a relevant, more personal way.
Rich apps with location-aware technology not only gives retailers the opportunity to immerse the consumer in their own branded experience, but also the power to know where those consumers are in relation to their physical locations, when they enter a retail store, how long they’re there and what they do while inside. By understanding consumers’ in-store shopping behaviors, retailers can more effectively interact with them, helping to drive sales, customer loyalty and deep analytics. For 2012, cross-channel retailers should implement location-based marketing and analytics in their mobile strategy through their own branded rich mobile app to better understand and engage with consumers like never before. — Dan Lowden
How to Get Your Emails Delivered
This year will see a lot of the traditional email deliverability challenges still in place, but it will also bring actionable data to marketers that they’ve never had access to before. Here are three problems you’ll face in 2012 and the data you need to stay in front of them.
- Mind your inbox placement rates. Based on the latest Return Path research, inbox placement rates are still stuck at 81 percent — the same place they’ve been for years. Make a New Year’s resolution that you’ll increase that number in 2012. Marketers need two metrics to be successful at this: one, a traditional seed list that will give them a global view of their deliverability and, two, subscriber-level inbox data that will give them a more accurate view of how their subscriber file is performing by including personal subscriber-level metrics — e.g., those subscribers that have put you on their personal blacklist.
- Don’t be phish bait. Last year saw the first decline in spam ever, in part because fraudsters get a much higher return on investment from phishing than from sending bulk spam. Unfortunately, they’ve also found that hijacking well-known brands is the best way to phish. I don’t mean just financial companies either. Retailers and social networks are the biggest targets. Internet service providers (ISPs) are now looking closely at domains being authenticated with SPF and DKIM. Protect your inbox placement rate, brand and reputation by authenticating with both.
- Move beyond opens and clicks. With ISPs filtering email based on subscriber engagement, removing inactive addresses has never been as important. However, marketers need to move beyond just opens and clicks when devising an inactive strategy. In 2012, marketers will need to arm themselves with data like who is deleting without opening. This level of data hasn’t been available until now, and should prove to be invaluable when solving deliverability problems due to engagement. — Tom Sather
How to Be a Super Cross-Channel Merchant
Super cross-channel merchants will prioritize the following activities in 2012:
Stay curious. Be continuously learning. Pay attention to the things that are on your customers’ radar screens. Experience what they experience so you’re prepared to lead them into new innovative waters. The best cross-channel merchants immerse themselves deeply in all aspects of their product touchpoints. They’re control freaks! They’re also innately curious about the product touchpoints of their competitors. They’re observers of industries unrelated to theirs for any inspiration that may come from unusual places for product naming, design, copy, pricing or packaging.
High-tech, high touch. Super cross-channel merchants ensure there are buzzworthy product conversations occurring wherever consumers happen to be — i.e., the channel they choose to shop in. Online? Quick informative videos and provocative cross-sells. In-store? Knowledgeable salespeople who live the brand. Catalog? Targeted and emotion-evoking product hero shots accompanied by product descriptions that answer customers’ questions and motivate them to purchase.
Think Pop-Up. Every channel has its own reason for being. If merchants think of each of these as stand-alone opportunities to tell similar but different product stories, their brand will be enhanced. Think of your offering being condensed to a pop-up store, kiosk, tablet screen or email blast. What merchandising message do you want to send? What would be memorable? Brand enhancing? Meaningful to that particular target audience at that point in time?
Repurpose. A super cross-channel merchant is superefficient and supersynergistic. Every product story is created to be used in many ways. Best-sellers are leveraged strategically. Product development efforts are comingled with marketing genius at the start of the process. Nothing is ever wasted. — Andrea Syverson