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QuickWit Weekly (9/13), WitsNotes volume 2 & top retail news

Volume 2 of WitsNotes features a new eBook from emarsys (a SAP company) on 8 Retail Marketing Priorities for 2021. 

  • Title: unPredictions: 8 Retail Marketing Priorities for 2021
  • Topic(s): Retail Marketing, Personalization, Data, Loyalty
  • Length: 56 Pages
  • Author: emarsys
“In periods of stress, it is the companies that are customer-obsessed that will survive and thrive.” - Shar VanBoskirk, VP and Principal Analyst, Forrester


Today, for brands and marketers to be successful they must put the customer first, with deep personalization across every channel. First-party data is a brand’s most valuable asset, but as cookies die and greater data privacy regulations go into effect, they must guarantee that customers will get a valuable experience in return for allowing you to use their data.

To properly leverage that valuable data asset you also have to ensure you’ve eliminated data silos, and leverage a customer engagement platform best solves that challenge.

Customers have permanently chosen omnichannel shopping and will gladly exchange their purchase history and preferences if retailers provide value and a more personalized seamless experience

The 8 Retail Marketing Priorities for 2021:

      1. Customers Must Be the Priority
      2. Customer Data, Policies & Privacy Are Rapidly Changing
      3. Earn the Right to Use Customer Data
      4. Loyalty Is More Than Points and Prizes
      5. Omnichannel CX Is Fundamental
      6. Intelligent Personalization Anywhere
      7. Break Down Your Operational and Data Silos
      8. Growth Lies in Customer Lifetime Value
"Our customers are everywhere, they’re very, very demanding, and they’re expecting a really personalized and really informative experience at all [the] different touchpoints.” 
- Alex Timlin, SVP Verticals emarsys


1. Customers Must Be the Priority – Deliver Personalized Experiences and You WILL Drive Growth

Fact: e-commerce growth permanently changed shopping

  • Brands (retailers & pure players alike) will win or lose on the quality of CX
  • Customer centricity is vital in your marketing strategy
  • Double down on personalization
  • Evaluate your technology stack to ensure data connectivity and accessibility
“We then have to think about how to make shopping easier at every step of the journey. So how slick is your mobile checkout? How integrated are your online and in-store experiences? Is your mobile site easy to read? Are you using messaging to connect with your customers? So getting obsessed with removing friction from the customer journey is key here.” 
- Beth Horn, Head of Industry, Retail & Ecommerce, Facebook
2. Customer Data, Policies & Privacy Are Rapidly Changing – You Must Build a First-Party, Permission-Based, Data-Driven Strategy

Fact: Marketing permission is tightening as new laws, regulations, and stricter privacy controls continue to emerge

  • Customers expect it – When it comes to their data, customers have increasingly greater expectations for privacy
  • Governments will require it – 107 countries have data privacy policies (GDPR, CCPA, PDPA, etc.)
  • Marketing technology is changing – Apple’s iOS 14 includes privacy controls, Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox now block third-party cookies, and Google will be doing away with third-party cookies by 2022
  • Most Tech stacks are not prepared – Many are siloed, which renders them unable to cope with the impending change in data ownership, and makes it difficult for brands who deal with external barriers outside of the marketing team’s control.

If you don’t have permission, you have no way to personalize the experience. Brands will need to be clear in your plan to gain the necessary permissions for acquiring a customer’s data, and for managing, processing, and enabling that data in a safe, compliant way.

“Data is the new sexy and the reason that data is the new sexy is because you cannot create great customer experiences without a great data strategy." 
- Brendan Witcher, VP/Principal Analyst of Digital Business, Forrester
3. Earn the Right to Use Customer Data – Make It Your Competitive Edge

Fact: First-party and zero-party customer data allows you to provide 1:1 interactions and personalized customer journeys that your competitors can’t.

  • Data collection is changing – It is no longer a one-way, one-time deal.  Customers have a right to view the information a brand collects on them and revoke permission anytime.
  • The best data is earned – You learn a great deal about your customer based on how they interact with your brand, but you have to earn the right to use it.
  • Data is your competitive advantage – The first-party and zero-party data you obtain is unique to your brand. Thus, if you know how to leverage it, you’ll be able to differentiate yourself from competitors and unearth unique business opportunities.
  • Fortunately, customers desire highly individualized content. So if you are upfront about how you’ll use and protect their data, and what value you will offer the customer in terms of truly personalized experiences, they are likely to give you the necessary consent.

Undoubtedly, stricter data privacy regulations make marketing efforts more difficult. Customers are increasingly empowered in a way that allows them to be more judicious with who they share their data with, and to what extent. Brands must earn the right to connect with customers by observing their privacy and ensuring they have explicit permission to market to them and provide true value in exchange for the right to continue to use their data.

“This has become pretty table stakes in most e-commerce stores now, since 64% of consumers do ask for personalized offers from retailers and brands. And even in a world of heightened privacy, 90% of consumers are willing to share behavioral data if it benefits them and provides them with an easier shopping experience.” 
- Fatima Yusuf, Director of Partnerships, Shopify
4. Loyalty Is More Than Points and Prizes – Create Meaningful Value Exchanges That Deliver Personalized Experiences

Fact: Loyalty goes beyond points in exchange for a purchase — it’s all about building long-lasting customer relationships that lead to greater revenue.

  • Loyalty is crucial for brand success – Loyal customers have a 306% higher lifetime value and will recommend a brand at a rate of 71%. A 5% increase in customer retention corelates with at least a 25% increase in profit.
  • Loyalty is no longer a nice-to-have program – It’s a vital opportunity for a brand to deliver true 1:1 personalized experiences, and the most effective way for maintaining an ongoing relationship with a customer
  • True brand loyalty is built on experiences – Loyalty doesn’t mean just discounts and free gifts (hard benefits). Consider what value-adding experiences (soft benefits) you can offer your customers in return for being loyal to your brand:

You may always have a use for discounts in your marketing strategy. But focusing on members-only experiences lets you break away from indiscriminate discounting, while still providing attractive, high-value experiences that earn a customer’s continued loyalty.

"for us, it’s all about that personalized experience, because if you only lead by price and product, you’ll really lose relevance.” 
- Elisse Jones National Loyalty Manager, Total Tools.
5. Omnichannel CX Is Fundamental – Connect Customer Engagement Across Any Touchpoint

Fact: 71% of customers confirm they want a consistent experience across channels, but only 29% say they get it.

  • Seamless experiences are key – The ability to reach customers across channels isn’t enough, the customer must have a continuous, seamless experience along every touchpoint.
  • The customer is in the driver seat – The modern customer is more savvy and demanding than ever moving quickly and effortlessly between multiple channels making it imperative to deliver interactions at precisely the right moment, on the right channel, with the right content — all in real time.
  • Every channel can yield revenue opportunities (when leveraged properly).
    • Email – 70% of brands fail to use personalized emails (which deliver 6x higher conversion.
    • Website – As the main brand interface that customers engage with, your website is as critical as a brick-and-mortar store, 80% of brands report an uplift after implementing web personalization.
    • Social Media – In growing numbers, customers discover brands and products via social media ads as well as social recommendations. 54% of customers research products using social media before purchasing, and positive comments and likes influence customers to purchase. What’s more, influencer marketing has become an increasingly popular way to engage customers.
    • Mobile – 52% of all web traffic comes from mobile. If it’s not mobile-friendly, 50% of customers will stop shopping with a brand, even if they like the company.
    • SMS – Like email and mobile, SMS continues to be a strong channel for brands to connect with customers. Omnichannel campaigns that include SMS are 47.7% more likely to convert.
    • In-Store – Technology has been the savior for brands this year, specifically in extending the offline in-store experience to include an online component, from research and recommendations to ordering online and picking up at the store.
    • Direct Mail – Tried and true, direct mail is having a resurgence. The fact that this physical touchpoint can also be highly personalized can make for a particularly impactful customer experience, and lead a customer to more interactive, digital channels, like your website or mobile app.
"we wanted to make sure that we could really coordinate our messaging across the channels, so when a customer shows interest in a particular product, we can support them in that moment of need.” 
- Elisse Jones, National Loyalty Manager, Total Tools.
6. Intelligent Personalization Anywhere – Invest in AI to Power Relevant and Contextual Experiences Across All Touchpoints

Fact: 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, or knows their purchase history. 95% of companies that implement personalization see 3X ROI in the year after the personalization investment and are seeing a $20:1 return.

Even though marketers still shape strategy and define goals, technology plays a big role in truly personalizing the customer experience. Today, basic personalization doesn’t cut it anymore, for solid and consistent engagement, your personalization has to access the right data (with permission) and draw the right insights about past purchases, preferences, and behavior, and you have to be able to do it consistently across all your brand’s touchpoints and provide relevant offers and content.

  • Live Chat Personalization – Marketing technology and access to customer data makes it easy and frictionless for a customer to get help through live chat on a brand’s website.
  • AI-Driven Personalization – Deep personalization, also called hyper personalization, runs on customer, product, and sales data and allows a brand to go beyond basic personalization. With AI, machine learning, and strategic automations running in the background, deep personalization matches up permissioned data with individual customers no matter which channel they come through.
  • Deep Personalization – Advanced AI can help personalize web and mobile experiences for the customer in the moment, or deliver a highly relevant loyalty incentive at just the right time, bringing the real-time element into your marketing.
“It’s about shifting from thinking about broad terms like ‘demand’ to the individual preferences and need of individual customers. 
- Paul Gunn, Head of Digital Marketing and CRM, Frasers Group
7. Break Down Your Operational and Data Silos – Unlock Personalization and Experience Potential

Fact: 84% of CMOs believe data collection, management, and analytics that drive consumer insight are important to future success, but only 49% believe they are effectively delivering on that today.

You can’t have seamless experiences without connected data – Seamless end-to-end experiences customers demand only happen when silos are dissolved, and your data is organized, unified, and centralized in a way that allows it to be fully utilized. Most companies are now recognizing there is a silo problem.

  • Customer-Centricity requires a single source of truth – Many brands built their companies around their business or industry, not the customer. They ended up with departments and leaders that were cut off from each other with their own data (and thus a different view) of the customer.
  • Holistic view of the customer’s journey – Operational silos, by their nature, keep teams focused on only one aspect of a customer’s engagement with the brand. But the goal is to work in concert to obtain a holistic view of the entire customer lifecycle.
  • Silos hinder cohesion and compliance for the business – CMOs and their teams are beholden to help deliver results for the business. This makes attribution, and establishing marketing’s impact on the bottom line, critical. Silos prevent teams from collaborating and aligning on the broader business goals of growth and revenue.
“One of the biggest challenges that we had in our existing environment is that our channel data was in silos, so we couldn’t deliver that coordinated
communication or conversation with our customer.
- Elisse Jones, National Loyalty Manager, Total Tools.

By unifying your product, sales, and first-party data into a single platform where everyone’s dealing with the same truth, you keep the customer at the center of your marketing.

8. Growth Lies in Customer Lifetime Value – Market Across the Full Customer Lifecycle

Fact: Brands have a 60%-70% better chance of selling to an existing customer than to a new customer.

Customer lifecycle marketing is one of the most undervalued overarching strategies for e-commerce companies, and it should be a priority in 2021. Successful brands are increasing purchase frequency and driving revenue by making the transition from sporadic transactional-based touchpoints to customer-focused lifecycle marketing.

Customer lifecycle marketing means matching customers’ experiences with both reactive and proactive marketing strategies — that includes personalized content — at every moment when, where, and how customers interact in a truly channel-agnostic way. It includes: awareness, acquisition, first-time purchase, payment, delivery, returns, second-time and repeat purchases, service, win-back and re-engagement.

"We see it as though we're here to show them that the whole journey can be quick and hassle-free. And then when they do have that great online experience, they come back to us again and again.” 
- Jodie Gardner, Head of CRM, AO


  • Omnichannel – The integration of all physical channels (offline) and digital channels (online) to offer a unified customer experience.
  • CX – Customer Experience is how a business engages with its customers at every point of their buying journey—from marketing to sales to customer service and everywhere in between. In large part, it’s the sum total of all interactions a customer has with your brand.
  • Customer Centricity – The ability of people in an organization to understand customers’ situations, perceptions, and expectations. Customer centricity demands that the customer is the focal point of all decisions related to delivering products, services and experiences to create customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.
  • GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation in Europe
  • CCPA – California Consumer Privacy Act in the US
  • PDPA – Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) in Singapore


The eBook is available at emarsys.com.

*All views presented in this article are those of emarsys and the original authors, not necessarily the views of RetailWit.



Walmart launches local delivery service. Smart move from Walmart to capitalize on their strengths, network, (eventually) detach themselves from third party reliance, and capture another alternative revenue stream. A white-label service called Walmart GoLocal, it reaches 70% of the US population (for the record, Instacart is ~85%). They will own the data that was formerly collected by other 3P platforms and allows for more leverage in negotiations. Amazon tried something similar and ultimately folded the service this year. If Walmart was watching to learn and improve, they could succeed.

Instacart is developing a digital advertising business. The clock is ticking for Instacart. Simo (CEO) even says so: “We have such a big opportunity. The challenge is executing fast enough to capture it.” And we can see why, with retailers like Walmart developing their own solution and rolling it out to other merchants. See: above. If they can execute, they could extend their runway—but there is a possibility it will become a negative spiral (less share, less traffic, less ads, less revenue) as well. It’s a tough space to compete in.

Hy-Vee is adding eyewear kiosks at stores. Another innovation to expand their non-grocery portfolio, Hy-Vee has continued to make an effort to move beyond grocery. This particular move is a hybrid experience: customers can try on “base frame’s” in-store, while ordering lens and “top frames” through the kiosk. Will customers feel like this decreases friction (physical trial with endless aisle) enough to overcome the alternatives (Warby Parker’s shop and try on 5)? This will be a great CX trend to watch.

2021 Retail Risks from Lisa Goller. A sharp piece of thought leadership that captures the challenges Retailers and CPGs will face for the remainder of 2021 and, likely, heading into 2022. We won’t spoil it too much, but she hit the nail on the head.

AB InBev makes changes to firm’s structure. The changes reflect support of their consumer-first strategy. They’ve added both a CMO role (Benoit Garbe, formerly US Chief Strategy Officer), and Chief commercial officer (Kyle Norrington, formerly President Labatt Brewery). They’ve shifted US Chief Sales officer to Simon Wuestenberg. AB InBev will allegedly be more data-driven, especially in regards to media, digital transformation, and within channels (ie. DTC).

Dollar General focusing on “Health Deserts” for business opportunity. Vasos, CEO, said yesterday that the retailer is going after healthcare (recently hiring a Chief Medical Officer) for one data point: “65% [~10,000] of the company’s stores are located in ‘health deserts”’. The watch out here is that customers that live in these rural and small town areas might not have the means to afford care or the desire to adhere to the treatment. So, it’s a big opportunity and an equally big challenge.

Target’s Shipt announces biggest expansion in years. Shipt will add 1,000 stores, or ~2MM additional HH’s, across the United States from coast (Seattle) to coast (Charlotte). If they can execute, this will be huge—leaning into the customer’s desire for convenience could continue to win Target customers and propel their growth. With other large retailers (Walmart, Kroger, etc) upping their game in this area, Target needs to succeed here.

Walmart consolidates and rolls out new features on shopping app. Reducing customer friction, Walmart is consolidating its search and checkout to a single, universal feature versus two fragmented user journey’s. And, they are partnering with the firm Meredith (Allrecipes, Better Homes and Gardens, etc). It will enable shoppers to more easily search, order, and prepare meals. Nothing new, but our bet is by simplifying the customer experience and pain points, Walmart will see more adoption and increased sales down the line.

Kroger released their second quarter results, showing 14% growth on a two year stack and 114% digital growth. Pretty solid quarter from Kroger!

Second Quarter Highlights:

    • Identical Sales without fuel -0.6%; two-year stack +14.0%
    • Digital Sales two-year stack grew 114%
    • EPS of $0.61; Adjusted EPS of $0.80
    • Operating Profit of $839 million; Adjusted FIFO  Profit of $947 million
    • Alternative profit business continued strong growth

But this wasn’t the only news this week from Kroger, as they unveiled their new logo. They are calling this the Fresh Cart, and calls it a nod to their focus and commitment to fresh items in their stores. This logo will be incorporated across all of Kroger’s banners and divisions.

Adding a shopping cart as your icon, what a great idea! I wish we would have thought of that…

Amazon announced that they will pay full college tuition for its front line employees. This is an incredible piece of news coming from Amazon, and a very generous offer to its 750,000 employees that this impacts. We’d love to see if other big companies follow suit. Well done Amazon!


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Comments to: QuickWit Weekly (9/13), WitsNotes volume 2 & top retail news