Is data the saviour of bricks-and-mortar retail?

Retailers in Australia have been forced to change tactics in recent years thanks to the rise of e-commerce.

Bricks-and-mortar stores have had to adapt to the new business conditions, as practices like showrooming are putting them under pressure. The knock-on result has been that retailers have made their in-store marketing more immersive, with tablets and large video screens being used to attract customers and encourage them to stay in stores for longer.

Nascent technologies such as GPS, 3D printing and virtual reality may also have a role to play in the future.

With the IAB's Australian Mobile Landscape Study discovering that the Australian mobile ad market has now reached maturity - and that 93 per cent of the buy side are satisfied with the results of their activities - it is clear this is an issue retail marketers have to tackle head on.

Maintaining brand influence

So how can brands make sure they stay in the minds of their consumer base? According to Ipsos Marketing, there are five key attributes to successful branding:

  1. Leading edge - Brands have to innovate and differentiate themselves from the competition. Doing so will not only make them attractive to consumers, but also set an example for their competitors.
  2. Trust - Successful brands are trustworthy brands, as customers will not keep coming back to a store if there is negative press or evidence that their needs are not being put first.
  3. Engagement - Brands need to have strong personality attributes that resonate with their customers' lives. They want to become a topic of conversation and debate among social circles.
  4. Citizenship - Customers want to be associated with brands that they feel are part of something bigger. Playing an active role in society and demonstrating core values is vital for retail brands.
  5. Presence - Brands have to be seen, heard and known if they want to be successful in the long term. This is why it is so important to turn customers into advocates for your products and services.

Is data the way forward?

While technology has disrupted the retail sector, it could still prove to be the key growth generator for retailers. At present, marketers do not accurately measure cross-channel campaigns, and Signal's Warren Billington thinks this is a missed opportunity.

"A single unified view of the customer makes it possible for marketers to see the impact of, and understand the influence of, each channel on customer behaviour and provide insight into the route to conversion," he stated.

This is backed up by Experian's latest Digital Marketer Survey, which found that having no single customer view is the biggest barrier to effective cross-channel marketing.

Writing in Smart Company, Mr Billington stated that developing a comprehensive understanding of the customer journey allows brands to "properly allocate media spend in a fragmented market". It also means they can review and improve their in-store efforts.

By properly managing their data, retailers can deliver a positive consumer experience that will enshrine loyalty in the in-store process and create the conditions for continued success in the retail world.