We’ve entered a new era of retail that is digital-first, customer-centric and experience-driven. Strategies centered around growing customer loyalty and lifetime value by scaling personalization, particularly as shoppers move fluidly across channels, will be key to competing effectively in this new era. And achieving that goal requires the right retail marketing technology.
But what exactly does the “right” technology look like? The retail marketing technology stack of the future is a modern set of tools on which retailers will come to rely to intelligently and efficiently achieve key outcomes, such as increasing customer loyalty.
While there is no one combination of technologies that will work for every single retailer, five characteristics must be present in any modern retail martech stack to achieve the desired success. Those characteristics include:
1) Digital-First & Cloud-Based
Regardless of your brand’s origins, everything in retail is quickly becoming direct-to-consumer and digital-first. Your technology stack must be equipped to meet this new normal, and as a result the retail marketing technology stack of the future is built around digital as the primary channel. In fact, many retailers are already moving to a cloud-based infrastructure, like Google Cloud, that provides the flexibility and scalability needed to meet the needs of growing digital experiences.
2) Highly Agile
Agility is essential to success in the ultra competitive and disruptive retail space. The ability to quickly pivot the business to respond to unexpected events — whether that’s a major shock to the system like COVID-19 or a smaller event like newly trending products — will separate the winners going forward. This makes agile processes that empower marketing users to take action quickly a critical characteristic of any modern retail technology.
Consumers now expect highly personalized and seamless digital shopping experiences as they move across channels. This expectation has resulted in the demise of channel-based marketing in favor of customer-based marketing that creates unique experiences for individual shoppers, regardless of where they are, as opposed to designing experiences around channels. Meeting this imperative requires technology that stitches together three key types of retail data (customer, behavior and product data) across the full lifecycle from discovery to purchase so that it’s manageable, accessible and actionable from a single place. Importantly, you either need a highly extensible system that integrates all your other technologies to make this centralization of data possible or you need a single system that can house those types of retail data.
4) Built for Retention
Loyalty is actually retailers’ best acquisition tool. Prioritizing customer retention and loyalty can help grow bottom line revenue, increase market share and create raving fans that make acquiring new customers less expensive. To achieve this goal, your team must use technology that’s built for retention, meaning solutions that help develop a deep understanding of your customers through first-party data. Your marketing team can then use that information to better engage shoppers, all with the intent of building relationships and driving continued repeat purchases (rather than just looking at each purchase as a single transaction).
5) Driven by Data Accessibility
Real-time access to data and the ability to act on that data in an intelligent, automated way is replacing manual segmentation. Data segmentation works when you have a large dataset about something that happened in the past, but it doesn’t help predict things like trending products or shopper behaviors so that you can respond to them in moments of need. In contrast, having easy access to actionable data allows retail marketing teams to create more timely and valuable experiences based on customer and product needs. For instance, this type of accessibility helps achieve goals like sell through without having to resort to discounts. It does so by providing the ability to (a) better predict inventory needs and (b) move that inventory through timely, value-based marketing.
Build Your Retail Martech Stack of the Future
Beyond these five characteristics, what else do you need to keep in mind as you build your martech stack for the future of retail? Download The Retail Marketing Tech Stack Guide, a comprehensive guide from Bluecore, Google Cloud and True Fit on how to optimize your technology for digital-first commerce, to find out everything you need to know.