Five retail marketing trends that will define 2019

Calendar 2019 is set to see a significant retail marketing revamp as the industry goes through a phase of rapid and dramatic technological change. The key for retailers amid all the innovation is to remember to keep their customers at the centre of everything they take to market.

Here we look at a number of trends that are set to continue or come to fruition in 2019, including retailers looking to take greater ownership of their customers’ data, the importance of apps and mobile platforms for reaching the modern consumer, and how the Christmas season will be coming around faster than ever.

1. The importance of apps

Mobile now accounts for more than half of online purchases across APAC, and native apps generate a conversion rate that is six times higher than mobile web. This increasing importance of mobile as a platform – and particularly mobile apps – will drive a spike in video advertising spend through private marketplaces. These marketplaces will begin to take a larger share of video advertising budgets, as marketers aim for premium inventory and better performance by displaying video ads on high-quality platforms.

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For businesses that actively promote their retail apps, the share of online purchases on mobile rises to 71 per cent in APAC, and there is a strong growth trend year-on-year for those businesses. The message for retailers is to invest in your apps for 2019 – as mobile grows in importance, so will the importance of owning your own platform and marketplace.

2. The Christmas rush

Possibly the last thing retailers want to be thinking about at this time of year is the pre-Christmas rush in 2019. But Christmas seasonality trends in Australia are shifting forwards through the year, and retailers need to be ready to adjust earlier.

While November’s individual shopping days, such as Black Friday and Click Frenzy, are major events that retailers must take advantage of, October is becoming increasingly important for the Christmas season. After analysing data from millions of shopper transactions from 2017, we found that even for purchases happening later in the season, decisions are being formulated earlier than ever.

More than a quarter of all buyers during Click Frenzy had visited the retailer’s website before November, and the figures show that first visits in October heavily contribute to sales in November and December, when shoppers come back to buy. 2019 will see an increasing number of retailers frontload their marketing campaign budgets to capitalise on the early browsing habits of the modern shopper and maximise their profits in December.

3. Data management

With a number of recent data-breach incidents globally, the tech giants have come under greater scrutiny on how they share and protect user data, their corporate footprints and the taxes they are paying.

Across the world, these vast tech corporations have seen their favourability plummet and regulations, such as Europe’s wide-reaching GDPR, are leading to a shift in attitudes towards data. In Australia, the competition regulator, the ACCC, is now calling for a new authoritative body to oversee Google and Facebook’s local operations, and has also proposed an ombudsman to deal with consumer complaints about these digital platforms.

In 2019, expect Facebook, Google and Amazon to introduce new policies on data sharing and user privacy. These tighter controls will lead to an increased prioritisation on user consent management. Retailers will have to find better and clearer ways to gain user consent on how and for what purposes their data will be shared or used.

4. Data-driven marketing

Brands and retailers are looking for opportunities outside of the walled gardens and marketplaces, and many will start doing so by developing their omnichannel capabilities through collaboration and data sharing. For example, retailers can share real-time POS and inventory data with brands, and both can access the analytics and insights to plan for promotions and operational efficiency.

For brands, consumer insights are critical to make the right investment decisions for their product pipeline. Walled gardens offer very little to brands in this respect – and collaborating with other retailers can help them access consumer insights on a large scale. 2019 will see an increasing number of brands and retailers looking to super-charge their data-driven marketing and looking to own as much of the data journey as possible.

As part of the drive to put data at the heart of 2019 marketing strategies, owning the customer relationship will be central for brands and retailers.

5. The year of customer relations

Marketers are starting to embrace the power of smart technologies like machine learning to better predict shopper behaviour and understand how they can effectively own the customer relationship. Today, shoppers are inundated with offers and promotions competing for their attention across mobile web, in-app, in-store and online, but machine learning can help retailers identify their target buyer, their past and present interactions and predict what they will need and do next.

This opportunity to provide optimised customer interactions is particularly pertinent for global retailers. Chances are Aussies won’t be shopping for woolly scarves and coats during the Christmas holidays, yet these will be flying off the shelves in New York. Creating authentic and targeted messages that fit the consumers’ interests and interactions is crucial to winning the customer engagement battle.

People want to be spoken to as human beings, not as profit opportunities. Understanding who your customers really are is the first step for retailers to create effective communication strategies.

Pressy Sankaran is Criteo’s head of ANZ.  Pressy is a proven business leader with over 10 years of experience across all performance marketing channels. He has experience in both the US and AU/NZ market, and understands performance marketing from simple ROI model to complex, consumer-oriented strategy.


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