The notion of “Agile Marketing” has been around for a while. As a superior operating paradigm, it has been sketched out across more whiteboards than any of us could begin to count. What started as an IT construct to adapt to an accelerated pace of software and systems development has bled into all sorts of organizations, old and new, looking for the special sauce to accelerate growth and productivity.
But like all Utopian ideas, the push for Agile Marketing has been met with mixed results for retailers — due less to any fault with the philosophical intention of the concept but rather more to a lack of a cohesive organization that shares information across all departments, from retail to e-commerce. The nice thing about Utopian ideas is that they have an indefinite shelf life. In 2021, as the post-COVID era starts to pick up momentum, I believe the retail industry would be well served by hitching its post-pandemic dreams to the Agile Marketing paradigm.
The good news is that the sector was already taking baby steps in that direction when the pandemic struck. The shifting sands of retailer focus from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce and the recalibration of resources and priorities required to maximize growth had led many to explore an Agile Marketing approach. What some of these forward thinkers were beginning to realize was that traditional organizational structures were too siloed and not optimized for the digital transformation that all industries, including retail, were making.
But as we all pick up the pieces from the COVID-19 era, now is a great time for retailers to reconstruct their companies by tearing down the silos between physical retail and e-commerce. We can no longer abide by these teams settling for keeping each other in the loop but not really partnering to the best of their abilities. In fact, they typically regard each other with suspicion as "frenemies" within the same organization competing against each other for primacy. It doesn’t have to be a "Game of Thrones" scenario.
When these teams are blended into a unified organism, optimization and ultimately return on investment can be elevated with less investment. Fortunately, that aligns with the growing consumer expectation of brands to deliver the most seamless experience merging all digital channels with physical stores.
At the core of this possibility are data and technology. The data technology universe has matured to the point where retailers can partner with third-party platforms that will help them rationalize costs and spark greater efficiency. All brands, regardless of positioning or value proposition, can be bound by the same opportunity — one tool for consumer data insights that offer a holistic, complete view of shopping behavior accounting for both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce.
By looking at the market opportunity in a more sophisticated, integrated manner, the various sales teams within retail organizations would all look at the same numbers and better coordinate their efforts to maximize potential. No longer should we settle for siloed tools leading to siloed insights. Now is the time to apply intuition and data in a collaborative, not competitive way.
It has become imperative to do so. Consider how the fragmentation of media and the advances of technology have created a hyperlocalized retail marketplace, which would be overwhelming to cover with antiquated, siloed tech. In order to be able to stitch together the exponential spheres of hyperlocal audiences to maintain traditional scale but with more nuanced, personalized messaging, retailers will need to get on board. The seamless consumer journey by definition is becoming an omnichannel experience that blends online ad exposure, e-commerce, and the physical store.
It's also important to think of hyperlocalization not just in a geographical context, but as a construct that facilitates granularity of insights in a multicultural context as well. With the increasing momentum for diversity, equity and inclusion in the business world, Agile Marketing in retail should also account for these differences.
Productivity is one of the key benefits of an Agile Marketing approach. Again, you don’t necessarily need more resources; you don’t need to rob Peter to pay for Paul.
You can balance budgets based on an integrated perspective. Imagine how much more successful you can be.
Stan Coignard is CEO, Americas at S4M, a drive-to-store platform that bridges the digital and physical worlds.
Stan Coignard serves as S4M’s Americas CEO and has been an executive board member since 2012.
As Americas CEO, Stan oversees S4M’s operations in the US, Canadian and LATAM markets. With more than 12 years of experience and entrepreneurship in the digital and mobile ecosystem, he is recognized as a top influencer in the field.
His career highlights include Managing Director at Isobar for the Mobile Media activity where he helped multinational brands such as Kellogg’s, Adidas, Coca-Cola, and L’Oréal define their strategies.
In 2018, Stan launched S4M Speakeasy, a unique think tank bringing together shopper marketing thought leaders to experience free-flowing discussions on current industry challenges.