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“While our digital revenue continued to grow during the lockdown, our profit margins have wafered-thin.” If this statement resonates with your business, it is time to relook at your marketing approach, ipso facto your eCommerce-capabilities-slash-digital-maturity.

Chances are a lot of your profit margins are either guzzled by the online marketplaces (for CPG brands), listing sites (for service retailers), or the competitive pricing by your well-funded competitors. Although we don’t recommend to wage market-share-war with the marketplace behemoths, we do recommend balancing your focus equally on branded digital ‘promotion’ in your marketing mix, and not be bogged down with the ‘product,’ ‘place,’ and ‘price’ alone.

An intrinsic approach of digitally transforming your brand and tapping into the experience-led business will not only add the revenue stream with higher profit margin, but also help you to understand your customers from the inside out to build the much-needed brand loyalty.

In the infographic below, we have listed down 5-MarTech opportunities – in the order of the digital maturity – that will modernize and accelerate your brand to gain the competitive advantage:

 

What do These Statistics Suggest:

75% of US consumers have tried different stores, websites, or brands during the COVID-19 crisis. 60% of those are expecting to integrate these new brands into their post-COVID lives. Brand building in the digital age starts with establishing a robust web presence of your brand while embracing the top web development trends of 2021 gives brand-building an upper edge. D2C websites provide direct communication with your consumers giving you detailed insights into the consumer expectations and behavior. These insights, in turn, can help the brands better regulate the inventory, price, product upgrades, or even advertising or marketing strategies. With the right tech stack and digital innovation consultation based on business needs, a retailer’s web presence can become the top grossing revenue stream.

Irrespective, you are a hybrid brand or a digitally native brand, consumers are on a lookout for better deals, products, and services – i.e., a better experience. This consumer behavioral shift had accelerated manifold since the lockdown, and it is most beneficial for the brands that manage to create trust. Most of the brand-hopping consumers are likely to stick with the new online brands in their post-COVID lives; provided, of course, the offline-to-online user experience is seamless and delightful throughout.

9X Faster recovery is witnessed by businesses that engaged in brand-building exercises following the 2008 financial crisis. It isn’t a stretched thought to compare the 2008 financial crisis with the COVID-19-induced financial crisis. The economic uncertainty, the consumer behavioral change, the collapse of the US stock exchange, and the monetary/fiscal policies in reaction to both depressions are strikingly similar. Whether the economic recovery this time around is V-shaped, K-shaped, or any other; it will vary greatly for each organization based on myriad factors.

Since the adverse effects of the pandemic-instigated lockdown have commonalities with the 2008 crisis, it only makes sense for marketers and business leaders to emulate the learnings of those days to today and focus on recovery through the proven methods, i.e., digital transformation and innovation for brand building and increasing brand love. The learning applies more so when we consider having come a long way since 2008: According to Pew research– the share of U.S adults that own a smartphone in 2021 is 85%, up from 35% in 2011 (first surveyed); that's a 2.4X jump in 10-years!

80% of the online consumers have at least one retail app installed. 72% of consumers prefer to engage with brands via their apps. ‘Long-term customer relationship,’ that is the key takeaway. And this relationship can be built only with a direct connection with your consumers. A top-notch customer experience is possible when your brand has the avenue to provide it; custom software for your brand can provide what the biggest marketplace couldn’t, i.e., value-added services like loyalty services, personalized recommendations, and product comparison (note: product comparison not with your competitors).

It comes as no surprise that a third of the consumers prefer to engage with their favorite brands via mobile apps. Although it does take dedicated marketing efforts to promote your native apps, the results are worth the efforts, and it debunks the myth that custom software development comes with a high cost.

More incremental revenue & 18% more cost-efficiency; that’s how much, on average, brands garner/secure users' data to tailor the online shopping experience. Data is the new oil; it is a platitude in the business world these days; however, the brands that make it their mission to extract and reap the benefits of data are the ones that are gaining the competitive edge. By relying 100% on the marketplace or aggregating website, your business is giving away the ‘new oil.’

The first-party data of your consumers reside mainly in the physical and digital assets you own, i.e., physical store transactions, visits to brand websites, and interactions on social media channels. Weaving these disparate data with an omnichannel digital presence and data intelligence tools gives you holistic insights into who are your consumers. How best you harness the data to tailor your products/services, promotion, and pricing will determine how successful is the win-win situation for and your customers.

The outcome of utilizing first-party data is evident, and it comes from the horse’s mouth – Google internal studies – suggesting 2.9X more revenue is generated by retailers that use sophisticated solutions that leverage first-party data. Besides, with growing global uproar for privacy concerns and data-sharing-tussle between the technology (Apple) and advertising network behemoths (Facebook), first-party data strategy is no longer an option for retailers. The sooner retailers gather the first-party data, less they will lose, because brands cannot gain uncaptured data retroactively.

70% of customer engagements will be done using AI modes, namely Virtual Assistants, Chatbots, and Instant Messaging, by 2022. Growth brands are adopting new technologies such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to alleviate the repetitious task's burden for the right reasons: improving efficiency, reducing operational cost, and ensuring uninterrupted business continuity with elevated customer experience.

ML-based chatbots are particularly gaining traction to improve customer service and the success story, like that of Opun Limited is inspiring. Yet, retailers are struggling to integrate it with their customer experience journey. The key is to supporting AI with human intelligence for closer collaboration.

75% of retailers said that personalized CX based on online behaviors is ‘important’ or ‘critically important' for meeting customer expectations. Data is the key to bringing exceptional CX. Marketers are racing to gather first-party data from as many streams as possible and process it for highly targeted marketing activities. Using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, brands combine personalized content and commerce to ramp up conversion rates, all the while improving the customer experience.

2/3 of revenue will come from digital channels for retailers by 2024 in the U.S & U.K. The numbers speak for itself and there is only one inference for this prediction – use it (digital channels) or lose it (revenue).

94% higher conversion rate is shown by the interactions with products having Augmented Reality compared to those without it. The social distancing norms encouraged demand for the virtual in-store experience. Besides, we humans crave immersive experiences, and we love to experiment with newer playful technologies.

Augmented and virtual reality (A/VR) is the newest technological disruption, especially in the retail industry, increasing brand engagement and conversion. Apart from providing a compelling user experience, A/VR comes with the benefit of reaching out to the customer where they are, at scale, and the ability to personalize information tailored to them.

‘Try-before-you-buy’ has a virtual twist to it now, and the demand is overwhelming (94%). It is up to retail brands to embrace its true potential to create a real impact.

The conclusion – don’t miss out on the opportunities that MarTech reform can bring for your brand.

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