Sara Richter
Sara Richter 28 April 2021

unPredictions, Part 2: Retail Marketing Priorities for 2021

Part 1 of our unPredictions series examined how to prioritise the customer; how to guide them through the rapidly evolving digital world of ecommerce, how to treat their data with respect and integrity, and how to provide them with the most value for their loyalty.

Part 2 now looks at the technologies that help you to achieve this. From omnichannel comms to genuinely scalable 1:1 personalisation, the technological arsenal at your disposal will inevitably dictate how effective you are at achieving your marketing goals.

5. Omnichannel CX is fundamental

The immense influx of customers turning to ecommerce has required retailers to quickly shift to a digital-first approach, but simply bringing our engagement online isn’t enough. You need to be able to recognise a customer no matter their means of reaching you; 71% of customers want a consistent experience across all channels, according to Forbes, but less than a third (29%) actually get it.

This is no mean feat. Customers are intelligent and agile, moving effortlessly between channels like your website and your mobile app. However, customers will also opt out of certain channels – your business has to deliver the right content, on the right channel, at the right time.

Your approach to personalisation, therefore, needs to be based on a tech stack that’s fully integrated with every system, all relevant data, and any digital and physical customer touchpoints. That stack needs to be as close as possible to the customer without breaching their personal space, maximising data while respecting opt-outs. A ‘mobile inbox’, embedding comms directly into a brand’s app without contravening customers who decide against of email marketing and/or push notifications, is one such example.

Ultimately, personalisation should provide the platform for proven omnichannel strategies that incorporates and coordinates mail, website, social media, SMS, mobile and in-store engagement, all based on that centralised data repository.

6. Intelligent Personalisation Anywhere

While marketers are still ultimately responsible for defining their goals and shaping the strategy to hit them, you simply cannot scale your 1:1 engagement without technology. Personalisation simply has to access the right data, and draw the insights from a 360* view of the customer:


Deep personalisation, or hyper personalisation, uses machine learning and strategic automations to match up permissioned data with individual customers, no matter which channel they use. It provides context for features like personalised shopping cart recommendations, for example, which influence 92% of shoppers when it comes to buying online.

With 77% of retail marketing execs intending to use personalisation to drive ongoing relationships, including loyalty programmes and customer retention initiatives, organisations have to organise and unify their tech stack to unlock the full value of customer, product and sales data – and then use that to provide the most comprehensively personalised experiences possible.

7. Break Down Your Operational and Data Silos

Not only are data silos more expensive than a unified alternative for brands, but they’re one of the most common and problematic obstacles for genuinely customer-centric marketing. 84% of CMOs consider data collection, management and analysis as priorities for their future success, but less than half (49%) believe that they’re effectively delivering on them.

Customer centricity requires a single source of truth. If you’re siphoning different elements of customer engagement into operational silos, you’re denying yourself a holistic view of the customer lifecycle as a whole. Different teams need to be able to refer to the same data points to recognise the collective journey that customers take, and the motives behind it – silos are an obstacle to genuine collaboration.

In an ideal world, that data is then made available in real time. Whether it’s a campaign driven by lifecycle, product or customer data, marketers are able to make quicker and better-contextualised decisions if they can receive and act on that data in real time.

This makes the removal of removing any barriers to data and analytics a fundamental priority to achieving company-wide goals. Every digital and physical customer touchpoint should be available to any team at any time.

8. Growth lies in customer lifetime value

Customer lifecycle marketing is often hugely undervalued when it comes to overarching strategies for ecommerce. Repeat customers spend two-thirds (67%) more if they’ve been loyal to a brand for more than 30 months; they are far more valuable than one-off purchases based on fragmented and sporadic exchanges.

To achieve this sort of loyalty, organisations need to transition from transaction-based touchpoints and take a wider look at customer-focused lifecycle marketing. Enticing, engaging and educating customers about what it means to be a customer involves every element of the customer experience, and a less aggressive language; helping rather than hunting customers, inspiring them rather than selling to them.

It’s therefore important to think about acquisitions as the starting point of a long-term engagement, rather than a purchase. A ‘customer-first, business-second’ ethos and a switch from team ownerships (sales, marketing, support etc.) to experience ownership will help to drastically change the perception of your brand to customers who could offer you a huge amount in the long run.

For the first part of this series, read unPredictions, Part 1: Retail Marketing Priorities for 2021.

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