Reimagining Retail: 5 Winning Themes

Last week, I bought 2 pairs of running shoes online, tried them at home, kept the one that fits well, and returned the other by dropping off the brown box at a logistics provider next door.

This research, selection, buying, and return process was orchestrated solely by me, at my whim after watching an interview of the CEO of the shoe company, aided by some quick social feedback, and the promise of speed from the online retailer.

Across all segments and channels, shoppers like me are looking for frictionless experiences and rewarding brands who brings a promise of transparency, convenience, authenticity, curation, and personal touch.

Digital media, mobile computing, and videos have helped create this shift in commerce that defies all tradition. Increasingly brands and retailers are rearranging their marketing spend to deliver a seamless, integrated shopping journey across multiple touchpoints as the customer is orchestrating her relationship with the brands — engaging whenever, wherever and however she wants.

The new playbook for customer engagement is successfully created and adopted by millennial business leaders, resulting in the rapid growth of brands like Bonobos, BooHoo, Casper, Chubbys, Warby Parker, Nordstrom Local, Patagonia, Nike Innovation Shop, Enze, and more. These winning brands stand out in the middle of the proverbial retail apocalypse and keep their audience hooked to their products using sophisticated content marketing, especially video.

In our research over the last few months, we see the following five (5) recurring themes across these paradigm-shifting businesses

  • Personalized Moments
  • Anytime Anywhere
  • Immediate Fulfillment
  • Identity
  • Memorable Experiences

Each of these themes is self-evident and appear to be the basics of marketing, yet we find many brands and retailers to be repeatedly struggling with creating/nurturing the narrative to include these elements in their messaging.

From absolute and affordable luxury to value and discount segments, these five core themes are impacting the following broad areas of the customer journey — Discovery (Interactive and shoppable media, brand positioning, and contextual messaging), Shopping (3D fitting and styling, crowd shopping, and virtual assistants), and Fulfillment (integrated point of sale, just-in-time inventory, and hyperlocal, free delivery).

Taking a cue from Alexa Chung (reporter with British Vogue Magazine), we can surely say that digital media have a significant role to play in this journey as customers become more open to experimentation with innovation. Having said that, we believe that technology needs to be adequately paired with the art of rich storytelling to attract the customer and keep them engaged through the complex journeys across different digital marketing channels.

What got to do with all these?

When my co-founder and I were on extended research to find domains where we can apply our mutual expertise and experience, we realized that the global retail industry is moving into a decisive phase of digital adoption by the mainstream consumer, and online sales of apparel, footwear, and makeups are projected to grow rapidly.

In our interviews, we also found that the process of creating, monetizing and distributing content for creative businesses is broken and physical stores are an important touchpoint in the shopper journey. Our early pilots validated that when the content is fresh, relevant, properly targeted, and aligned to great product offers and includes contextual interactivity, customer engagement can be as much as 5X higher than the average. At RealValue, we are building such sophisticated solutions that marry storytelling + cognitive technology to enable faster brand-customer alignment.

RealValue is an AI-company that is helping brands and boutiques refine customer engagement while on their digital transformation journey. We do visual content creation, monetization, and distribution while brands focus on doing what they do best — creating fashion and style that customers love. Our breakthrough AI-powered interactive media platform provides an organic way to monetize media content assets. Our solution empowers marketers and e-commerce teams to showcase products without seeming too sales-y or spammy.

Learn about 5 essential content marketing trends to address these recurring themes of success.

Drop us a line here if you are inquisitive and/or have a comment or two about the five themes mentioned above.

Polymath: dad, husband, co-founder, strategist, Computer Vision enthusiast, visual thinker and dog lover.

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