Trends in Retail: 2017 Digital Intelligence Briefing

The recent­ly released Adobe/Econsultancy Dig­i­tal Intel­li­gence Brief­ing: 2017 Dig­i­tal Trends in Retail pro­vides insights based on the respons­es of almost 500 retail­ers who par­tic­i­pat­ed in the 2017 dig­i­tal trends sur­vey. These retail­ers were among more than 14,000 mar­keters across a wide spec­trum of busi­ness sec­tors who respond­ed to the sur­vey. This report gives an indi­ca­tor of how retail­ers are embrac­ing dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy com­pared to mar­keters in all sec­tors.

Cus­tomer Expe­ri­ence Con­tin­ues to Dri­ve Strat­e­gy

The focus on cus­tomer expe­ri­ence is seen in retail­ers’ con­cen­tra­tion on mobile and per­son­al­i­sa­tion. Retail­ers under­stand that their suc­cess depends on a mobile-friend­ly, per­son­alised expe­ri­ence that is rel­e­vant through­out the cus­tomer jour­ney. The stakes are high: year-on-year growth of mobile sales was 47 per­cent in the UK and 45 per­cent in the US. Mobile becomes even more impor­tant after tak­ing into account its role as a con­trib­u­tor to pur­chas­es made in oth­er chan­nels.

Retail­ers show their grasp of mobile’s impor­tance in sev­er­al ways. Mobile leads all chan­nels as an area for invest­ment, with 62 per­cent of retail respon­dents report­ing their mobile mar­ket­ing bud­gets will increase in 2017. “Under­stand­ing how mobile users research/buy prod­ucts” is ranked “quite” or “very” impor­tant by 98 per­cent of retail­ers, and 99 per­cent give the same impor­tance to “opti­mis­ing the cus­tomer jour­ney across mul­ti­ple touch­points,” show­ing a strong focus on con­sumers’ behav­iour as they use mobile as well as an under­stand­ing that mobile is just one of sev­er­al chan­nels a cus­tomer might use in the pur­chas­ing cycle. Final­ly, retail­ers lead oth­er sec­tors 44 to 32 per­cent in their con­fi­dence in the abil­i­ty to mea­sure return on invest­ment for mobile mar­ket­ing cam­paigns.

Retail­ers also pri­ori­tise per­son­al­i­sa­tion as an effec­tive means to achieve lead­ing cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. Thir­ty-three per­cent of retail respon­dents report that tar­get­ing and per­son­al­i­sa­tion are top pri­or­i­ties for 2017. Bud­gets for per­son­al­i­sa­tion will also increase, as 57 per­cent of retail­ers will increase bud­gets for per­son­al­i­sa­tion, right behind the 62 per­cent who are increas­ing mobile bud­gets and tied with email, also at 57 per­cent. “Mak­ing our expe­ri­ence as per­son­alised and rel­e­vant as pos­si­ble” was the high­est empha­sis on improv­ing cus­tomer expe­ri­ence for 25 per­cent of retail respon­dents, lead­ing all choic­es and 5 per­cent ahead of the sec­ond choice, “mak­ing our expe­ri­ence as valu­able as pos­si­ble.”

Dig­i­tal Matu­ri­ty in the Retail Sec­tor

Mar­keters have made progress on the path to dig­i­tal matu­ri­ty, show­ing some strengths com­pared to oth­er sec­tors as well as some areas for improve­ment. Retail­ers are more like­ly to report they are a “dig­i­tal first” organ­i­sa­tion at 13 per­cent of respon­dents as com­pared to 10 per­cent aver­aged across all sec­tors. How­ev­er, retail is sixth among all sec­tors, well behind the gam­ing and gam­bling sec­tor, which leads with 25 per­cent of organ­i­sa­tions being “dig­i­tal first.” Among com­pa­nies that are not “dig­i­tal first,” retail still com­pares well against all sec­tors with slight­ly more retail­ers report­ing that “dig­i­tal per­me­ates all of our mar­ket­ing activ­i­ties” (16 per­cent com­pared to 15 per­cent) and “dig­i­tal per­me­ates most of our mar­ket­ing activ­i­ties (48 per­cent com­pared to 46 per­cent).

Retail­ers are also ahead in cre­at­ing the cul­ture need­ed for suc­cess­ful dig­i­tal oper­a­tions. More retail­ers (78 per­cent) report they are com­bin­ing dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing skills with ana­lyt­ics and tech­nol­o­gy com­pared to non­re­tail­ers (73 per­cent), and 66 per­cent of retail­ers have tools that stream­line work­flows between cre­ative, con­tent mar­ket­ing, and web teams, com­pared to 60 per­cent across oth­er sec­tors.

One area of con­cern is tools to use data for cre­at­ing per­son­alised, real-time expe­ri­ences. Despite their gen­er­al­ly aggres­sive pur­suit of per­son­al­i­sa­tion, retail­ers are a bit behind here, lag­ging 58–61 per­cent in hav­ing these tools.

Look­ing to the Future

In addi­tion to pro­vid­ing insight into the retail industry’s dig­i­tal matu­ri­ty, the report also shows where tech­nol­o­gy is lead­ing retail­ers into the future and pro­vides a look at the future as envi­sioned by retail­ers.

Using cus­tomer expe­ri­ence as a means to dif­fer­en­ti­ate from the com­pe­ti­tion is the over­whelm­ing choice for retail­ers, with 34 per­cent of retail­ers choos­ing this approach, well ahead of the sec­ond-place choice, cus­tomer ser­vice, at 14 per­cent. Only 7 per­cent will use price to dif­fer­en­ti­ate from com­peti­tors. Retail­ers will be look­ing to tech­nol­o­gy to help them achieve this goal, as 28 per­cent of respon­dents report that engag­ing audi­ences through vir­tu­al or aug­ment­ed real­i­ty is the most excit­ing prospect for 2020. The next choice is also high tech—using arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence to dri­ve expe­ri­ences, with 24 per­cent of retail­ers see­ing this as the most excit­ing prospect for 2020.

These are a few of the find­ings in the report. Read the report now for more insights, region­al dif­fer­ences, and action­able tips.

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