Retail Marketing in 2020
How much longer do we have to wait for hover skateboards? Or flying cars? Or shopping robots that will have all of my groceries chosen and packed by the time I walk into the store? Well, I’m neither hovering nor flying, despite what my historical references, Back to the Future and The Jetsons, promised me. (Soon, maybe?)
I can do the grocery thing, though.
Retail is experiencing a seismic shift, driven by, I believe, the symbiotic relationship between technology and empowered shoppers. Each pushes and feeds the other, making demands and offering rewards. Together, these forces have upped customer expectations, redefined the idea of value and re-mapped the path to purchase.
In turn, the job of the retail marketer has evolved. And it will continue to evolve as shoppers more boldly articulate their desires, and technology uncovers fresh possibilities. It’s a brave, new, omnichannel, friction-free, on-demand, always-open, in-time world. Marketers don’t have to keep up; they have to keep ahead.
What attributes will best serve the retail marketer five years* from now (aside from the creativity, strategic thinking skills, showmanship, high EQ and strong personal fortitude required now)? How will retail shift as the next generation of marketers steps up?
A healthy skepticism will be needed as breakthrough app after breakthrough app bursts onto the retail marketing stage…and then promptly disappears. Not every new piece of technology is great, or even necessary. Digital advances that do nothing to enhance the shopper experience serve only as distractions. Smart marketers will ask questions, and will identify pitfalls as well as possibilities.
As much respect as the retail marketer has for technology, there should be an even greater respect for people. The way shoppers do things will continue to change. Why they do things is timeless. Emotion drives behavior, in the store and in the world. Always factor in the human touch. Tap into universal needs and desires of the shopper first, then find the right technology to satisfy them.
And do it fast. Retail marketing requires agility and quick response time. That time is only getting tighter. Shoppers want what they want when they want it. And they’re getting it. Marketing is becoming more fluid and more responsive, which means more work. The days of placing a marketing program in-store and then leaving it for a month are coming to an end. Real-time monitoring, and a willingness to quickly change course, will become the norm. It won’t hurt to have nerves of steel.
Balance that resolve with an unbridled imagination. Marketers should have the mindset that anything they can dream up is do-able. Say “yes.” The options and opportunities to innovate retail marketing will only grow more numerous as time advances. New technology, production breakthroughs and access to deeper insights will mean that the only roadblock to executing a big idea is having the idea in the first place.
*OK, maybe not five years. More like five months.