‘Be your brand’ and other lessons for succeeding in the phygital world

Discussion
Source: eTail West 2020
Feb 28, 2020
Patricia Vekich Waldron

E-commerce and omnichannel executives came together at eTail West in Palm Springs this week. After a short drive to the desert, I had the chance to participate in this event and get an update on digital strategies that are working in the marketplace today. My top takeaways for those seeking success are:

  • Be your brand
  • Get discovered
  • Engage dynamically

Be your brand

Retail success (still) starts with a good plan and a strong vision. Brands with a purpose who infuse their vision, mission and value into everything they do, turn consumers into fans and advocates. In an age of ad fatigue, consumers crave authenticity. Retail presenters at the conference that stood out from the crowd in this respect included:

  • Sephora, which makes beauty fun for all through “Inclusive Beauty”;
  • Moosejaw, which calls itself the “Most fun outdoor retailer in the world” and is known for its disruptive marketing;
  • ThirdLove, the anti-Victoria’s Secret that sells “bras and underwear for every body”; and
  • Bombas with its mission-based model that provides a sustainable solution to the most requested clothing item at homeless shelters — socks.

Get discovered

There is a new generation of search, and it’s not just keywords or SEO. Done right, search is a sophisticated set of strategies to attract micro-audiences at specific points in time. Discoverability must be coordinated across third parties and owned platforms: social channels, websites, retail/wholesale partners, influencers, Google, Amazon and others. Constantly changing algorithms, relationships and costs make maximizing discoverability, improving the experience and promoting products super complex.

Engage dynamically 

Everything around connecting with customers has changed: the path to purchase, the marketing funnel and the concept of personalization. Using customer data, social signals and artificial intelligence and/or machine learning to understand intent allows brands to personalize dynamically and serve up relevant content in the form of product information, reviews, design options, style guides, etc. Overstock.com shared its transformation — a new approach, tech stack and library of 40M digital assets that can be deployed based on where each visitors’ journey takes them on the site.

It all comes down to retailers and brands understanding customers and fulfilling the reasons for their visits. My advice: stand for something, live your brand and make it easy for customers to interact with you regardless of where they are along the purchasing continuum.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are brands taking discoverability seriously or are they stuck on your father’s search?  What retailers and consumer-direct brands do you think are doing a good job of understanding and engaging consumers moment-to-moment?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"The marketplace has only a select few rarified brands and retailers who get it. These retailers and brands are perceived as authentic, dynamic and sought after by consumers."
"I cannot argue with anything written here, but there is one huge message missing — “get the basics right first.”"
"Consumers expect transparency, authenticity and – most of all – personalization that puts the brand when and where they want it."

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9 Comments on "‘Be your brand’ and other lessons for succeeding in the phygital world"


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David Weinand
BrainTrust

The newer DTC brands (Bombas is a perfect example) have a better handle on discoverability as they are able to better attract talent than most of the legacy brands. We are just completing a study on this and most legacy retailers are super concerned with their ability to attract the right talent. That said, folks like Sephora and Ulta are doing a nice job (at least that what my daughters say!).

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

Your daughters are right on, Dave! Look forward to your study — digital talent and hiring are must-win propositions!

Cynthia Holcomb
BrainTrust

Brands try to take discoverability seriously; unfortunately, most brands try to engage in search without a clear mission. Retailers are faced with overwhelming search and engagement technology solutions, believing snippets of consumer behavior will transform into the nirvana of customer experience resulting in “Be Your Brand.” Retailers and brands are like ships sailing and hoping to stumble upon a new land. The bottom line is retargeted ads, segmentation based emails, and the continuous attack of online ads that are a source of annoyance during a peaceful web search are clear indications of which retailers and DTC brands just don’t know what to do. Hence the marketplace has only a select few rarified brands and retailers who do get it. These retailers and brands are perceived as authentic, dynamic and sought after by consumers. It’s not rocket science, as some might say.

Jeff Weidauer
BrainTrust

There is no “silver bullet” for marketers (was there ever?). Consumers expect transparency, authenticity and – most of all – personalization that puts the brand when and where they want it.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

I couldn’t agree more, Patricia! What is a brand if it doesn’t stand for anything that compels shoppers to shop! Make it easy. Make it obvious. Make it genuine. Make it consistent. Let’s get away from consumables for a moment and think about a brand that has truly stood the text of time. For some 40 years, BMW has been “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” If a driver wants to drive well, they know where to shop.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

Consumption was a big topic in Palm Springs, Ralph! Consumers are way more conscious of where and what they invest in.

Andrew Blatherwick
BrainTrust
I cannot argue with anything written here, but there is one huge message missing — “get the basics right first.” In the last paragraph it states; “It all comes down to retailers and brands understanding customers and fulfilling the reasons for their visits,” which sure says that they need to do all the techy stuff written about, but they also need to “fulfill the reason for the visit” which is buying something and being able to get it. Too many conferences are held and white papers are written about all the technologies and processes surrounding retail and e-tail. They often miss the basics of getting their supply chain right and having stock to fulfill the customer demand. Many new retailers fail because of this as it is now so easy to move your business elsewhere. I was in a shop today. They were out of stock of the two items I wanted to buy. They said they could order it for delivery to the store for me to collect tomorrow. Well I could have done… Read more »
Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

It’s becoming table stakes to close the decades-long gap between corporate strategy and field execution. Your example shows that discoverability is one prong of an operational strategy to satisfy the purpose of (any) consumer visit regardless of channel.

Steve Dennis
BrainTrust

You lost me at “phygital.” 🙂

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"The marketplace has only a select few rarified brands and retailers who get it. These retailers and brands are perceived as authentic, dynamic and sought after by consumers."
"I cannot argue with anything written here, but there is one huge message missing — “get the basics right first.”"
"Consumers expect transparency, authenticity and – most of all – personalization that puts the brand when and where they want it."

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