Innovative Retail Technologies

JUL-AUG 2017

Innovative Retail Technologies (formerly Integrated Solutions For Retailers) is the premier source for innovative yet pragmatic technology solutions in the retail industry.

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M arketers are under an enormous amount of pressure to deliver growth-driving opportunity for the business while delivering flawless, omni-channel experiences that last a lifetime to today's connected customers. This is especially true of fast- moving, consumer-obsessed industries such as CPG manufacturers, retailers, and e-tailers where the customer is expecting to be treated as a unique individual rather than a broad persona. Today's connected customer expects to be met with personalized experiences that consider their lifetime engagement history right alongside actions and behaviors they engaged in moments before. They expect that, in recognition of past engagements and business, brands will take their individual actions and circumstances into account (including purchase history, preferences, timing, locations, devices, problems, etc.) and engage accordingly, regardless of where or when the customer initiates that engagement. Should brands not meet this expectation, the customer is more than happy to take their business elsewhere. So what is the state of engagement for most marketers? Most are challenged with a fundamental disconnect between their intentions for engagement and their ability to actually engage. While customer engagement strategies are in place, outlining where, how, and at what pace the organization reaches out, responds, and connects with the customer, the ability to follow through and deliver the intended experience is often derailed by a lack of data and intelligence to make that moment of engagement meaningful for the customer. According to the most recent study from the CMO Council, titled "Empowering the Data-Driven Customer Strategy," marketers are actually quite optimistic about their growing abilities to leverage data and deliver personalized experiences in real time. Unfortunately, while optimism is growing, the majority of marketers are still struggling to engage consistently. In fact, many marketers are delivering these rich engagements only through marketing-owned campaigns and across select digital channels, stymied by the increasing fragmentation across execution systems and platforms. Here is the reality: There is a gap between customer experience strategy "There is a gap between customer experience strategy and customer engagement execution. And no, technology is NOT to blame." Liz Miller, senior VP marketing, CMO Council and customer engagement execution. And no, technology is NOT to blame. In fact, marketers are all too willing to bring on new solutions. Some 32 percent of marketing respondents believe their organizations are ready to bring on new channels and systems. But there is some caution as many marketers admit that they are still catching up in managing the huge influx of data hitting the organization. This hesitation becomes far clearer when marketers are asked to describe the mindset the organization has specific to developing and managing its engagement technology infrastructure. Most believe that they are in a state of constant motion and development (37 percent), evolving as the customer and technology have evolved. Another 32 percent admit that their organization's mindset is one of conflict — specifically the conflict between old and new with legacy infrastructure battling new cloud- based systems that have been brought on to manage individual points of engagement, analytics, or deployment. Marketers are not in a position to strive for the Best-Of model of technology, and they admit that the solutions implemented now have, at best, limited connectivity across all tools, as only 3 percent of marketers are totally connected and aligned across all systems with data, metrics, and insights flowing seamlessly across all technology platforms. This lack of connectivity and an overall frustration with the failings of fragmented systems are further exacerbated when you realize just how large the technology stack has become. Consider this: In the past five years, 42 percent of marketers have installed more than 10 individual solutions across marketing, data, analytics, or customer engagement technologies; 9 percent have brought on more than 20 individual tools or solutions. But, in that same five -year period, 43 percent of marketers have spent over 25 percent of their marketing budgets to replace existing technologies. This cycle of "rip and replace" has not only created the fractured technology landscape that marketers are most frustrated by but has also torn the focus away from actually engaging with the customer. Without doubt, the fractured systems landscape has had significant impact on the marketer's ability to effectively 15 Jul-Aug 2017

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