From customer data to in-store technology, the role of retail marketing teams is just one element within the fashion industry that’s been shaken up in the digital era.
Retail marketing teams can no longer just focus on PR and creative elements. Denise Anza, the former svp of marketing at Saks Fifth Avenue and now a brand consultant, joined this week’s Glossy Podcast to discuss the fast-shifting retail marketing landscape.
Edited highlights below.
Store associates need to be retrained and “armed” for the digital era.
Consumers today seamlessly integrate their digital and brick-and-mortar shopping experiences, like searching for a product online before going into a store and buying it. But retailers have been slow to bring store associates up to speed with using customer data and why it can be used to their advantage.
The problem stems from the boom of e-commerce, said Anza. Saks Fifth Avenue for example, along with other retailers set up separate e-commerce units rather than integrating them into the wider marketing teams, so retailers weren’t structured to use and spread data across teams. But that’s slowly been changing in recent years. Anza said retailers are beginning to retrain store associates to understand how data can be used in store to their advantage.
“From your entire purchase history or browse history online, retail has really started to put some of that information in the hands of associates,” said Anza, who added that at the beginning of the e-commerce boom, associates would view online shopping as competition. “It was to some extent it was perceived as money out of their pocket in a commission-based culture.”
Bloggers are just one piece of the puzzle for retailers.
Neiman Marcus CEO Karen Katz took a swipe at influencers and bloggers last week, blaming them for playing a part in the retailer’s poor sales, because people don’t want to wait for fashion anymore. The comments came in the wider bloggers versus Vogue fight which erupted on social media last week.
Anza said the luxury industry has been slow to catch on that there’s demand for influencers and the culture of immediacy. “It is not just what the brands and retailers tell people anymore and that’s a big shift. It’s been happening for a long time, but when it gets to the point that you really realize the balance of power has shifted, how do you then adapt the industry?”.
Brands need to balance spending money on “sexy tech” with “basic tech.”
In-store tech needs to enhance a customer’s experience and not be “tech for tech’s sake,” said Anza. “It’s not about putting social feeds in a certain floor because it’s cool and snazzy and the coolest new thing.” Anza pointed to Barney’s iBeacon, a mobile app which uses data to personalize a customer’s in store experience, as a smart technology integration.
Retailers at times get trapped into “sexy tech” like virtual reality and in-store technology because it’s the newest and most newsworthy thing, and often retailers feel they see more results because they hear and read about it, said Anza. Instead, retailers instead should be making sure they have the foundations down first: free shipping, free returns, same day delivery where possible, as well as easier checkout. Brands need to get better at balancing both of those elements, she said.