Ad Week – Retail Remixed

It has to be said – I love Ad Week. While it would be impossible for anyone with an actual job to sit through all four days of it, it has a certain buzz and scale that no other event in our category can match.

I was lucky enough to be asked to moderate a panel at this year’s event. “Retail Remixed” was our theme, and we had the loosest possible brief – to discuss the challenges and opportunitiesfor retail in today’s digital world.

I was fortunate to have a panel of experts from cutting edge technology and media firms. Placewise deliver personalized retail experiences across multichannel; Sparkfly concentrate at the end of the purchase cycle, delivering offers and vouchers through mobile at the point of sale; HookLogic deliver a paid search marketplace within eCommerce sites allowing brands to elevate themselves up site search results; and Kuapay are working on new forms of mobile payment. Add in a general overview from Rick Chavez, the head of solutions at Microsoft Advertising.

We covered a range of topics:

Who will win from Digital Disruption?

The concensus here was undoubtedly – The Consumer. With so may tools available to us – mobile shopping, click-and-collect, price comparison, enhanced loyalty etc, we are now all becoming empowered shoppers. Those brands or retailers who don’t make themselves attractive or flexible to our increased demands will quickly slip off the radar.

Another thought was that empowered shoppers actually create new business opportunities for nimble start-ups. Rick raised the example of Gustin who crowd-source fashion designs into production. Gustin create a range of product designs for garments, then wait for enough users to ‘sign up’ to each one before they make it. This type of new business is proliferating – upgrading the consumer experience in many verticals: think about ZipCar, Just Eat etc

Location Location…

The whole panel sees a bright future for the future of location marketing. The leading thought was that the nature of location is going to become smaller and smaller, with today’s capability to target malls set to be elevated to the ability to target shelf by shelf. Tools such as iBeacon may help enable this.

Evolution of Payment

It can be argued that mobile payment is a solution looking for a problem, and that with Apple’s continuing failure to support NFC, it is a dream that might never happen. But the panel’s view was that there could be something juicier about to erupt on the payments landscape. With retailers forming the MCX consortium to try and cut credit card schemes out of the loop, we might soon see an entirely different dynamic, with payment going directly from phones or cards directly to the retailer, without a traditional payment card relationship required.

Sales attribution

No conversation about retail can or should be complete without some discussion of attribution. It’s perhaps a little unfair to expect digital to solve this issue overnight – after all, the advertising industry has been happily ignoring the issue for the past 60 years while spending on TV! But with so many digital projects offering potential to drive revenues at any point in the purchase cycle – how do you decide which are the ones to prioritize? On this point the panel agreed that there is no standard framework for multichannel attribution, and this is likely to remain a challenge for some time to come.

As we push forward into the omnichannel future, we are going to see all of these issues continue to rise up the priority stack of CMOs and CFOs across retail, and it’s been intriguing to get a view of others working in different silos at the coalface of the retail future.

If you missed the Retail Remixed panel, check out the full video below!