Advertisement

CCS 2021: Levi’s, 1-800-FLOWERS, Under Armour Reveal How They’re Meeting Fast-Changing Consumer Expectations

Connected Consumer Series 2021
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on reddit
Share on email

The 2021 Connected Consumer Series reflected the challenges retail (and society as a whole) have faced during the past year, but also the growing sense of optimism that is taking hold this year. The 15 sessions, now available on demand, encompass critical areas of the retail enterprise, including: customer loyalty strategies; visual tech developments such as AR and 3D modeling; fulfillment and delivery management; the power of social networks; fast-growing Buy Now, Pay Later services; and the all-important customer experience.

The advice and insights delivered in these sessions come not just from analysts and consultants but retailers themselves, representing companies large and small including Under Armour, Levi’s, 1-800-FLOWERS, CarParts.com and Mystery Ranch.

5 Social Advertising Trends for Retailers to Know in 2021: Featuring Under Armour

During COVID-19, social networks became powerful vehicles for driving product awareness, education and, in some cases, real-time engagement and community building.; that’s why marketing teams are allocating more of their spend towards them. Smartly.io research found that 74% of marketers spend one-third or more of their budgets on social advertising.

But how can a global retail enterprise streamline and scale its social advertising strategies? Ayanna Colden, Digital Marketing Specialist at Under Armour, shared how the brand was able to automate its social advertising and adapt its approach based on local tastes, behaviors and even COVID-19 conditions.

Advertisement

Previously, the Under Armour team had to create dedicated catalogs for all the different countries and languages for which it wanted to run advertising campaigns, meaning team members had to manually adjust 25-plus campaigns at a time. By automating this process and creating a cross-border catalog, Under Armour was able to double the ROI of its social campaigns.

Listen to the session on demand.

Retail CX Trends 2021: New CX for a New World

The pandemic is finally ending, but the new/remade world will require a refined approach to the customer experience. Omnichannel now means not just offering services across channels, but also providing seamless communication that connects all touch points.

“As consumers, particularly older consumers who are a little bit more affluent, get vaccinated they’re going to come back to the stores,” said Bryan Amaral, President and CEO of Clientricity LLC. “That experience in the store is going to matter, as is the online [experience] and communicating with the customer across all channels — that’s what’s really going to matter.”

No matter how customers choose to shop, informed associates will be a key part of this process. In 2020, 56% of retailers added phone and text chat to replicate elements of the in-store experience online. Soon, they’ll need to find ways to make in-store shopping as convenient as online ordering.

Listen to the session on demand.

Redefining Retail: How Location Data Removes Friction from Shopper Experiences

With consumers more attached to their mobile devices than ever, retailers are turning to location data to allow for more targeted marketing campaigns, greater operational efficiencies and frictionless shopper journeys that close the loop on omnichannel strategies. Crafting frictionless experiences that elevate convenience are essential, as this is now the customer expectation: 83% of consumers said convenience is more important to their shopping experience versus 5 years ago, according to a recent study.

By using location-aware marketing to analyze data and segment audiences, brands can reach customers in their app in real time as well as via different marketing channels (think push notifications and location-triggered email). Harnessing this data is especially crucial when it comes to BOPIS and curbside services. Brands and retailers that can reduce their pickup time window to under two minutes are 4X more likely to gain customer loyalty and repeat customers, versus orders that take 10 minutes to fulfill in the parking lot.

Listen to the session on demand.

What’s the Point of Loyalty? How to Take Consumer Engagement and LTV to New Levels

Loyalty programs have evolved dramatically since the days when their sole goal was to drive more profit from existing customers, according to Houman Akhavan, CMO of CarParts.com, and Matt Roche, CEO of advocate marketing platform Extole. Today, loyalty program goals should include creating brand advocates, fueled by the understanding that non-transactional behaviors like referrals or positive reviews can be just as valuable as purchases.

Even the forms of loyalty programs have changed since the days of the punch card: membership, an app download, a credit card sign-up and creating an online profile all are forms of modern day loyalty. And all are equally valuable in their own right, especially as third-party cookies are phased out and first-party data becomes key to understanding and marketing to your customers. “The main goal of a loyalty program is to enable everyone to participate in the brands they love and be recognized for their contribution,” said Roche.

Listen to the session on demand.

Augmented Reality: Like Real Reality, but Better (for Retailers)

While AR technology is commonly associated with trying on accessories or virtually placing furniture into physical spaces, it also has useful applications for showing off products in other ways. For Mystery Ranch, the retailer’s hand-built, high-quality, user-specific designs are a major differentiator.

“When we’re talking about quality and the ability to showcase that, the 3D experience gave us the ability to allow the user to really zoom in on a product, which we didn’t really have before,” said Ryan Holm, Director of Marketing at Mystery Ranch. “You can have a zoom into product imagery, but we didn’t have a zoom into a full 3D image like we have here.”

Mystery Ranch launched its AR experience in March 2020, and over the course of the year the retailer saw a 115% increase in desktop conversion rate and a 70% increase in mobile conversation rate.

Listen to the session on demand.

Retailers, Are You (Socially) Listening? Your Customers Are Speaking

Increasingly, brands need to take a localized approach to their online communications, advised Chad Jordan, Regional Sales Director at SOCi. COVID made this truer than ever before, said Jordan, with business closures and safety guidelines varying wildly from state to state and even county to county. Many consumers no longer trust a company’s website for up-to-date information; instead, they are turning to social media and listings on sites like Google or Yelp.

A company’s presence and engagement on these platforms is critical to success. In fact, consumers now trust Google so much that most people end up going with one of the options in the “Google 3-Pack” — the first three results in a Google search. A few tips to get into the 3-pack:

  • Make sure you have a large number of good reviews, and solicit them from customers if you don’t;
  • Make sure you’re responding and interacting on social media to positive feedback as well as negative; and
  • Ensure that your Google My Business listing is accurate and up-to-date.

Listen to the session on demand.

Accelerated Ecommerce: 21+ Trends and Transitions That Will Shape the Industry in 2021

COVID has accelerated ecommerce by two to three years, and across all demographics consumers plan to shop online more than they did before the pandemic. While traditional retail has suffered during the pandemic, Link Walls, VP of Digital Marketing Strategy at ChannelAdvisor, noted that the record number of retail bankruptcies in 2020 was driven more by outdated business models than by COVID itself. Walls offered insights into how brands can thrive in this new era of retail, including:

  • Be everywhere: Consumers today consider themselves channel-agnostic, so brands need to be on multiple channels to meet shoppers where they are (this can include owned sites, social and third-party marketplaces);
  • Diversify: Build durability across your supply chain so you’re not dependent on any one source; and
  • Focus on fulfillment: The bar is always moving, and consumer expectations of all brands are being set by the offerings of big players like Walmart and Amazon.

Listen to the session on demand.

How 1-800-FLOWERS Boosts Shopper Loyalty with Data & Analytics

Winning — and keeping — customer loyalty has always been a challenge for retailers, but COVID-19 made it even tougher. In fact, 57% of people said the way they engaged with companies transformed in 2020, which means retailers must work harder to understand their consumers’ evolving wants, needs and preferences.

To successfully adapt its loyalty program and engage with consumers in a more meaningful way, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM dove into the data. Neil O’Keefe, Vice President of Enterprise CRM and Loyalty Marketing at the retailer, shared the company’s key lessons from 2020 and priorities moving forward:

  • Balance company-led motivations with customer-led motivations: Retailers may have their own objectives for loyalty programs, but they must focus first on creating value for customers, according to O’Keefe: “We think people are seeking more meaningful relationships, so as we move forward, our brands will need to refocus on their purpose and be authentic in the experiences they build for consumers.”
  • Engage beyond the transaction: 1-800-FLOWERS.COM wanted to build its community to tap into the emotional side of loyalty creation. “We’re trying to deepen our relationships with customers…so they can form meaningful connections and celebrate moments big and small,” said O’Keefe. For example, the company developed an eCard service, held Facebook and Instagram Live events and shared DIY activities that families can do together.
  • Harness data to adapt and improve: “The entire culture of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM is focused on data and analytics,” O’Keefe explained. “We’ve been a direct-to-customer brand since our inception. Our goal is to build a relationship with the customer and data is the language for that relationship.” Whether it’s through personalization or unearthing new opportunities to better serve customers, data and analytics is what drives these decisions.

Listen to the session on demand.

Buy Now, Pay Later: How Millennials & Gen Z Want to Shop

It’s a common misconception that Millennials eschew physical payments; in fact they embrace a wide variety of payment methods: 68.2% use credit cards, 66.3% use debit cards and 42.1% use digital wallets, according to data from PayPal. Even that old standby cash is the preferred tender for some members of the cohort.

“There is a generalized view about the lack of diversity millennials have in their payment preferences,” said Hemal Nagarsheth, Associate Partner at Kearney. “In particular, there’s often an underrepresentation of credit. In Kearney’s consumer research what we often find is that, especially for older millennials, one in three prefer to pay with a credit card.”

Millennials prefer payment methods that are rewarding, convenient and match their existing habits, according to Nagarsheth. So while they’ll pay in many ways, matching their preferences can be a sales driver for retailers.

Listen to the session on demand.

Why Effective Management of Visual Media is a Must for Ecommerce

Humans are visually oriented creatures: viewers process images 60X faster than text, and retain 80% of what an image shows, versus only 20% of text. Online retailers already are well aware of images’ power: visual content receives 94% more total views than text alone on average, according to Jason Khoury, VP of Corporate Marketing at Cloudinary.

Additionally, recent advances in visually oriented technology, including AR/VR, 3D modeling and live shoppable videos, mean that marketers who don’t master visual communication and adopt a media-first approach run the risk of falling behind competitors.

For Levi’s® Footwear and Accessories, these visual tools bridged the gap between the brand and its distributors when COVID curtailed in-person events. Working with Cloudinary and Geos Consult, Levi’s “delivered an immersive experience for distributors to view products online, displaying 360-degree interactive product views of more than 40,000 items,” said Gaetano Curci, Creative Service Manager, Global Consumer Market, Levi’s Footwear and Accessories. “This helped our wholesale distributors purchase with confidence, and allowed us to capture sales despite the pandemic by engaging with vendors safely and virtually. Now we’re looking at other areas of Levi’s portfolio to mimic these results.”

Listen to the session on demand.

Harnessing In-Store Shopper Data to Improve Experience and Engagement

As stores continue to reopen, retailers are being tasked with reconfiguring the in-store experience to meet still-shifting consumer needs and behaviors. To ensure the shopping experience remains responsive to these shifts while still addressing bottom-line needs, retailers are using in-store shopper analytics to help craft improved in-store experiences in five key areas: Store Design; Merchandising; BOPIS and the Checkout Experience; Marketing and Promotional Activity; and Employee and Task Scheduling.

Physical retail is still a big part of the retail ecosystem — and in-store metrics that measure traffic can provide actionable insights on how shoppers move through the store, what displays they’re stopping and looking at, and which areas they’re spending the most time in (as well as wait times for BOPIS and checkout). This data can help brands evaluate what in-store real estate isn’t being leveraged to its full advantage, and to make changes that meet actual shopper behavior and needs.

In-store traffic data also can help “fill in the blanks” for marketers looking at why promoted products don’t sell or grab customer attention. Additionally, it offers invaluable insights for employee and task scheduling as retailers go through the “re-setting” process in 2021.

Listen to the session on demand.

Redefining Product Discovery: Improve Your Entire Customer Journey

Brands are upping their discovery capabilities to match shoppers’ needs by using AI-powered machine learning tools to find patterns in user behavior at scale. Product search can be a tricky puzzle for retailers to solve, as false positives and false negatives pose challenges for the user experience (and for sales). A false negative is the worst outcome for search results, leading consumers to assume you don’t have what they’re looking for (even though you do), and raising the risk that they will quickly move on or completely abandon their search on your site.

During search, understanding a user’s meaning — not just the literal query — is key. Semantics are everything when it comes to optimizing results. User behavior can be baffling, so tapping into the power of signals, vectors and AI can greatly improve retailers’ ability to refine the customer journey. Tools such as smart chatbots and virtual assistants also can help interpret user intent, to deliver relevant results and power conversational experiences by understanding how people speak.

Listen to the session on demand.

Connecting to Your Ideal Customer: Laser Focus on Convenience

Retailers need to redefine “convenience” to encompass today’s complex, multi-touch-point shopper journeys. “Convenience has to be thought of by a retailer as the moment when a person first starts to think about solving a problem,” said Flora Delaney, President, Delaney Consulting. “If I ask Alexa or Siri, will it provide directions to your store? Will your store show up on a local map if I Google that I want, say, fishing poles? If you’re not ‘convenient’ in these ways, I may not even think about your being ‘convenient’ in terms of your store’s location.

Tyler Gardiner, Subject Matter Expert for Retail at Podium, believes the definition of convenience needs to stretch even further: “Convenience really looks like the state when you know a consumer — that you understand what they want and where you’re meeting them, and that you’re anticipating their needs even before they encounter you.”

COVID-19 also has forced retailers to make different forms of convenience a priority, with changes that will continue to affect shopper behavior even after the pandemic ends. “When folks do go to an in-person shopping experience, they will have all-new kinds of expectations before entering your store,” said Delaney. “Some of the folks asking whether you have something in stock at that moment are literally sitting in your parking lot, making their decision about whether to go into the store or not.”

Listen to the session on demand.

Redefining Retail: How Location Data Removes Friction from Shopper Experiences

With consumers more attached to their mobile devices than ever, retailers are turning to location data to allow for more targeted marketing campaigns, greater operational efficiencies and frictionless shopper journeys that close the loop on omnichannel strategies. Crafting frictionless experiences that elevate convenience is essential, as this is now the customer expectation: 83% of consumers said convenience is more important to their shopping experience versus 5 years ago, according to a recent study.

By using location-aware marketing to analyze data and segment audiences, brands can reach customers in their app in real time as well as via different marketing channels (think push notifications and location-triggered email). Harnessing this data is especially crucial when it comes to BOPIS and curbside services. Brands and retailers that can reduce their pickup time window to under two minutes are 4X more likely to gain customer loyalty and repeat customers, versus orders that take 10 minutes to fulfill in the parking lot.

Listen to the session on demand.

Omnichannel Strategies for the New Normal: Scaling Up to Exceed Customer Demands

Everyone knows that the pandemic was an enormous boon for online shopping, and the industry is now getting a more accurate tally of just how big the boon has been. According to the Adobe Digital Economy Index, “Ecommerce was given a boost of $183 billion during COVID, and we believe it will be sustained into 2021,” said Tory Brunker, Director of Product Marketing for Adobe. “In fact, we believe 2022 will be the first-ever trillion-dollar year for ecommerce.”

The categories that consumers are shopping for are continuing to shift. As vaccinations have expanded, “We’ve seen a trend toward [people buying] more luxury goods,” said Pete Olanday, Retail Practice Leader – Consulting for Vertex. “Maybe it’s less uncertainty, or maybe you just have enough toilet paper at this point.”

And even though the pandemic’s impact is lessening, retailers will still need to manage an ecommerce-heavy holiday season in 2021. “Be ready for the peak shopping season to start earlier,” said Olanday. “In 2020 we saw holiday promotions starting as early as October, and that trend will probably continue. One effect of this is that retailers may need to adjust their return policies, because with earlier gift-buying, the time between the original purchase and its possible return will be longer than usual.”

Listen to the session on demand.

Delivering the Perfect Order: Provide a Buy-Anywhere, Fulfill-Anywhere and Return-Anywhere Experience

According to Chris Benner, Master Industry Principal, Oracle NetSuite, retailers’ top investment priorities this year all are tied into order management systems — and for good reason. COVID-19 accelerated trends toward BOPIS and other customer pickup options as well as deliveries, and order management systems are vital to making all of these offerings work efficiently and cost-effectively.

“It’s all about putting data at the center of the strategy — and delivering profitable fulfillment options,” said Benner.

One path to profitability is automating inventory management. “By introducing modern systems, it’s actually possible [for a retailer] to sell more with less inventory,” said Benner. “When an inventory management system can automatically match your demand with supply, you get out of the business of carrying too much stock and reacting to inventory problems after it’s too late.”

Retailers can up their game even further with dynamic order reallocation solutions, which go beyond intelligent order routing and autonomous fulfillment. If a customer wants an item that isn’t currently in stock at a store or a distribution center, such systems “can look anywhere in the supply chain, at purchase orders, inbound shipments, transfer orders, work orders and sales orders,” said Benner. “It can manage in a matter of seconds what it would have taken minutes or hours to solve, if you could solve it at all.”

Listen to the session on demand.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Get a $5 Amazon Gift Card for five minutes of your time!

The next 25 respondents to complete the 2021 Customer Loyalty Benchmark Survey will receive a $5 Amazon Gift Card!

Access The Media Kit

Interests:

Access Our Editorial Calendar




If you are downloading this on behalf of a client, please provide the company name and website information below: