‘Be your brand’ and other lessons for succeeding in the phygital world
E-commerce and omnichannel executives came together at eTail West in Palm Springs this week. After a short drive to the desert, I had the chance to participate in this event and get an update on digital strategies that are working in the marketplace today. My top takeaways for those seeking success are:
- Be your brand
- Get discovered
- Engage dynamically
Be your brand
Retail success (still) starts with a good plan and a strong vision. Brands with a purpose who infuse their vision, mission and value into everything they do, turn consumers into fans and advocates. In an age of ad fatigue, consumers crave authenticity. Retail presenters at the conference that stood out from the crowd in this respect included:
- Sephora, which makes beauty fun for all through “Inclusive Beauty”;
- Moosejaw, which calls itself the “Most fun outdoor retailer in the world” and is known for its disruptive marketing;
- ThirdLove, the anti-Victoria’s Secret that sells “bras and underwear for every body”; and
- Bombas with its mission-based model that provides a sustainable solution to the most requested clothing item at homeless shelters — socks.
There is a new generation of search, and it’s not just keywords or SEO. Done right, search is a sophisticated set of strategies to attract micro-audiences at specific points in time. Discoverability must be coordinated across third parties and owned platforms: social channels, websites, retail/wholesale partners, influencers, Google, Amazon and others. Constantly changing algorithms, relationships and costs make maximizing discoverability, improving the experience and promoting products super complex.
Everything around connecting with customers has changed: the path to purchase, the marketing funnel and the concept of personalization. Using customer data, social signals and artificial intelligence and/or machine learning to understand intent allows brands to personalize dynamically and serve up relevant content in the form of product information, reviews, design options, style guides, etc. Overstock.com shared its transformation — a new approach, tech stack and library of 40M digital assets that can be deployed based on where each visitors’ journey takes them on the site.
It all comes down to retailers and brands understanding customers and fulfilling the reasons for their visits. My advice: stand for something, live your brand and make it easy for customers to interact with you regardless of where they are along the purchasing continuum.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are brands taking discoverability seriously or are they stuck on your father’s search? What retailers and consumer-direct brands do you think are doing a good job of understanding and engaging consumers moment-to-moment?