Omnichannel retail marketing is the way forward

In today’s digitally-driven marketplace, using data for effective omnichannel marketing provides a sure-fire strategy for success.
Remmone Mareme
By Remmone Mareme, Lead of digital marketing, brand and communications, Altron.
Johannesburg, 30 May 2023

That technology has become an integral part of our daily lives is a well-known adage. In recent years, omnichannel shopping has been rapidly growing.

Gartner predicts that, by 2030, physical and digital worlds will merge, and brick-and-mortar stores will be fully integrated with digital platforms, transforming how we shop. Retailers will offer personalised in-store experiences incorporating the products we browse online, taking targeted marketing to the next level beyond online ads based on search results.

To achieve this, companies need to go further than simply ensuring they are tops in Google searches through search-engine optimisation. They can no longer send out e-mails with content that is not customised for a shopper’s needs.

In today's business landscape, companies must align their marketing strategies with consumer behaviour to thrive in a digitally-driven marketplace. A comprehensive approach that includes tailored deals, personalised recommendations and enticing details about their preferred shops, like new branch openings, is essential for success. These strategies are not effective without the intelligent use of data.

Through Facebook's Off-Facebook tool, parent company Meta has already implemented the ability to know which products attract consumers. Facebook uses data provided by third-party websites to intelligently serve ads to individuals who are already keen on those items. This is achieved through sophisticated algorithms. While being able to offer targeted marketing provides a competitive advantage, users can opt out of this feature by changing their privacy settings.

Integrating and analysing data is crucial in implementing omnichannel solutions.

A concrete example of the success of omnichannel marketing is Timberland in the US, which seamlessly integrates online convenience with the in-store shopping experience. The retailer leverages near-field communication technology to create touchwalls in-store, providing customers with detailed information about their shoes and the option to add them to an online shopping list or buy them on the spot.

Moreover, Timberland uses a product recommendations engine that tailors the shopping experience to the user's previous purchase or searches, introducing customers to lesser-known products that might interest them.

Unscrambling information

When it comes to using data to define campaigns and drive sales objectives, the teams behind advertising need to be deliberate in how they apply the information at their disposal. Doing so, through an omnichannel solution, allows companies to employ a personal touch when it comes to engaging with customers where they are. This enables sales firms to provide needed information and get consumers to act, rather than just leaving a call to action out there.

Integrating and analysing data is crucial in implementing omnichannel solutions, and business intelligence solutions play a significant role in this process. Data collected from various sources, such as rewards cards, online orders and app usage, must be turned into valuable insights to benefit decision-makers.

Without proper analysis, such data may not offer any value to businesses and may not help them make better operational decisions. Business intelligence can help companies identify buying patterns, consumer behaviour and preferences, leading to increased efficiency, productivity and top-line growth, giving them an edge over their competitors.

Using trends, companies can post relevant information on LinkedIn, for example, instead of generic ad campaigns. Consumers searching for items will find that always-on marketing and e-mail offers fit in with what they are more likely to buy.

There’s no doubt that the pandemic led to a shift in marketing, as the world moved online, changing how people consumed information, and quick-thinking companies around the world used this to their advantage.

Data security and accessibility are crucial for any business. While cloud storage and setting access rules may seem like an obvious solution, it's important to select a service provider with a proven track record of uptime to minimise the risk of data breaches, particularly when dealing with consumer information, even if it has been anonymised.

As companies grow, they may need to increase the amount of information stored, so a scalable solution is essential to accommodate changing shopping trends and ensure optimal data management.

Privacy matters

Protecting consumers' information, personal details and shopping habits is crucial to prevent them from becoming vulnerable to social engineering in case of a hack. Unfortunately, there have been numerous instances of penetrated databases and data being stolen. This has become a global growth area for individuals with nefarious intentions, highlighting the importance of prioritising data security and privacy in the digital age.

There are numerous data protection laws globally, such as the highly-regarded European General Data Protection Regulation. Locally, the Protection of Personal Information Act became effective on 1 July 2020, and mandates that companies ensure access to data is limited to those who need it, protected and consumers are notified in the event of a breach.

Although the Information Regulator has yet to enforce penalties of up to R10 million or 10 years in jail for non-compliance, failure to adhere to data protection regulations can still result in severe financial and reputational damage to companies. Therefore, businesses must take the necessary precautions to protect their customers' data and comply with relevant protection laws.

Omnichannel marketing is the way forward for retail, allowing outlets to understand consumer behaviour and retain customers. However, the data it requires must be interpreted and used wisely. Companies must implement omnichannel marketing with circumspection and prioritise data security and privacy.