What’s Old Is New Again—Let’s All Go To The Mall
Customer demands have forced brands in every industry and of every stripe to get with the digital program—and fast—lest they be left behind. One segment, however, outpaces all the rest: Retail.
There is no arguing that the pace at which marketing is changing is staggering. And little respite is in sight. Customer demands have forced brands in every industry and of every stripe to get with the digital program—and fast—lest they be left behind. One segment, however, outpaces all the rest: Retail.
CMO.com’s coverage of last week’s National Retail Federation’s annual Big Show made that abundantly clear. Our own Giselle Abramovich and contributor Mercedes Cardona were both on site in NYC to report on what’s happening in the world of retail—and the answer is plenty, mostly having to do with “omnichannel” and “reinvention.”
But, first, let’s step back a bit. Not quite three years ago, CMO.com took an early look at what a new concept called “omnichannel” meant to retailers:
“The proliferation of digital channels, along with the ubiquity of mobile devices and social media, has created a new world for consumers interacting with businesses–retail businesses, in particular. In response to these shifts, retailers have been forced to keep up with a new set of demands from consumers who expect to be marketed and sold to as individuals with unique interests and affinities, through a multitude of channels. … The omnichannel world–and challenge–is real for retailers. Only through a well-tuned measurement and optimization strategy can retailers connect with consumers in meaningful interactions that deliver on their company’s key business objectives.”
A new word. A new digital concept. A new challenge.
That’s what makes last week’s news out of the retail world so eye-opening. A mere three years later, and “omnichannel capabilities have become table stakes for retailers.” Table stakes—not a challenge, not a key business objective, but the least you can get into the game with. This, of course, means marketers must be looking at some new challenge to propel them into the end of the decade. According to a speaker at the Big Show: “Marketers need to refocus on integrating the real-world customer experience with the digital world.”
And we’re back to the beginning. According to several NRF speakers: “… while the early stages of retail’s digital growth focused on building digital capabilities and e-commerce sites that could compare to the in-store experience, the next stage will involve improving in-store capabilities to do justice to the ease and selection found online, managing data to personalize the consumer journey, and making the move between physical and digital seamless.”
With such focus on artfully merging the digital and analog worlds via an in-store experience comes that other stalwart digital marketing challenge, customer experience—both digital and in-store.
During the past few years, many retail brands and quite a few marketing mavens suggested that the days of the brick-and-mortar physical emporium were severely numbered. What it looks like now is that might not actually be the case. Said John White, EVP of Fossil Group: “The next step for us is to take the promise of what we did in digital and translate that same level of insight in the physical world.”
Online back to physical. Big data back to creativity. Perhaps this means the return of vinyl—or is that already happening? What about magazines and books—analog coming back there, too? Should I save my cassettes and 8-tracks? Or does it just mean that I can print out coupons on my computer and head for the mall?