Fergus Stoddart
This is a post by Fergus Stoddart
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Trends

The onslaught of challenges that retailers face coupled with ongoing shifts in consumer behaviour mean that the need to innovate still rings true, now more than ever before. Seven months ago, our last check on retail saw retailers facing existential crises if they weren’t brave and nimble enough to adapt to change. Since then, we have seen some great examples of retailers harnessing the power of technology, data and content to reach these empowered and digitally savvy consumers.

The future of retail in 2019 is being shaped by key trends seen in the TrendWatching report, with accelerating consumer expectations particularly driving the need for new and innovative marketing strategies.

Some retailers have already started investing in owned media and data strategy to produce content that improves customer experiences and connects with them in meaningful ways. Nike delivered an AR and geolocation-fueled magical point of sale to customers in their SNKRS app to drop their line of limited edition shoes. Those who wanted to purchase Nike’s SB Dunk High Pro Momofuku shoes needed to go on an AR scavenger hunt and find a copy of the menu for a New York restaurant Fuku. By using the app and holding up the camera to a specific image, an overlaid interactive 3D model of the shoes would appear and unlock the page allowing them to purchase it. By leveraging the power of digital technologies, this innovative strategy provided an immersive and entertaining experience for the mobile-empowered consumer. Not only did Nike orchestrate a contextual brand experience, they also demonstrated a deep understanding of its consumers’ culture, which helps to differentiate the brand from competitors.

 

IKEA is another brand that has successfully integrated data and technology to improve customers’ retail experience. The IKEA Place app combines visual search with AR product previews, giving users the ability to experience and experiment with digital  products in true-to-scale 3D size in their own homes. Users are also able to point cameras at household items and search for similar products within the app. The technology not only eases consumers’ decision-making processes but is set to redefine future consumer experiences of furniture retail. Here at Edge, we’re working with a number of retailers (Petbarn, Mitre10, Dymocks) to drive relevance and look at how we can leverage new technology and data to deliver relevant content.

Deep retail personalisation is another trend set to reshape the retail consumer experience. To utilise data to its full potential, retailers need to offer personalised content that will prove they know consumers better than they know themselves. This follows some of the key trends mentioned in our last blog, which discussed how mass market “price and product” led campaigns and catalogues need to shift into one-to-one content. A prime example of this in action is Unilever’s food brand Knorr which introduced an AI tool offering consumers personalised recipes based on scans of their Instagram feed. Users could then save the recipes or add the ingredients to their shopping basket. This kind of data-driven behavioural targeting provides consumers with instant personalisation and total relevance. These sort of digital marketing efforts are revolutionising the food space and is something we are particularly excited to be working on with our client Weight Watchers.

Some of the work that we’ve also done with Petbarn does just this. By leveraging digital technologies and customer data, we created a Dog Breed Selector tool that streamlines the process of researching which dog breed fits your lifestyle. By easing the consumers’ path to purchase, the tool uses an algorithm to analyse lifestyle needs and narrow 161 dog breeds down to just one in less than a minute. As consumers continue to drill into brands before making their purchasing decision, the need to produce relevant content will only become more pressing. Brands in turn will need to make sure they support this ‘content revolution’ and leverage data and technology to drive brand preference and awareness.

Some brands have also harnessed the power of catching consumers on their path to purchase by outsourcing retail experiences to automation and algorithms. Revolut introduced a powerful new geolocation travel insurance that detects where you are in the world to automatically turn on coverage for you whilst travelling. The pay-per-day app leverages location data to automate a purchasing process that effectively saves the consumer time. With these trends continuing to grow, content marketing plays a significant role in helping retailers achieve a long-term profitable relationship with consumers.

 

Whilst all of these are great examples of brands leveraging the power of technology, data and content, retailers are faced with the ongoing challenge of remaining relevant in a rapidly changing marketplace. Consumers are increasingly expecting a seamless, intuitive customer experience and brands must continually innovate in order to provide content that consumers genuinely value rather than getting in between content they are interested in. These trends present opportunities for brands to create new experiences that excite an existing audience whilst winning over new ones, too. But what it all boils down to is ensuring data is leveraged and integrated with digital technologies to produce content that helps brands stay relevant, relentlessly.