The Oracle Data Cloud blog highlights the latest data-driven insights and trends in digital marketing and ad tech.

2018 Retail marketing: What you need to know

We talk with Jen McIsaac, VP & GM, Retail & Restaurants, Oracle Data Cloud, about 2018 trends in the retail industry and their effect on digital marketers.

Oracle: As we step into 2018, what’s most top of mind for retail marketers?

Jen McIsaac: Analysts predict that retail sales will grow in 2018 (3.8 percent per eMarketer)—a good backdrop to remember as much of the media coverage is focused on major retail chains comp sales declines and store closings—but that’s only part of the picture. 

Retail is evolving, and the growth we’ll see this year is not a one-size-fits-all equation.

There will be winners and losers as in any industry, but those who can manage operational complexities, while focusing on driving consumer value and fulfilling consumer needs in a meaningful way, will come out on top.

So, what’s on retail marketers’ minds? A lot! Retailers are thinking about what they can do to make improvements in their businesses across all areas of the P&L. 

That includes everything from improving product margins, spending ad money most efficiently, thinking about the customer experience across both brick and mortar and e-commerce, driving loyalty among their best customers, acquiring more customers that behave like their best customers … and the list goes on.

Oracle: Are there any trends the retail industry should pay close attention to?

McIsaac: Leaders in the space today enhance their in-store, online, and app experiences with augmented reality, as the industry as a whole leans in to tech trends.

In the home décor and furniture space, retailers like Wayfair, Chairish, and Ikea use this technology to enhance the shopping experience with features such as product visualization and room design. 

And in a move that really shows this is key to a retailer’s strategy, recently Williams-Sonoma actually acquired its AR vendor, Outward.

Another innovation on the tech front is chatbots. Early adopters of this technology included H&M and The North Face, which utilized chatbots as personal shopper/product recommendation services.

Chatbots also are used to enhance the in-store customer service experience. Macy’s, for example, uses chatbots to help customers find items while in the store.

Oracle: What should retailers understand about print vs. digital in 2018?

McIsaac: We need to change the mindset. It’s not print vs. digital or digital vs. TV anymore. 

It’s about a people-based marketing strategy that puts the consumer or the audience at the center, and the channels are merely means with which to engage consumers. 

We see traditional e-commerce only retailers getting into print because they value the physical connection a piece of mail brings to their marketing conversations. 

Alternatively, we see traditional brick-and-mortar retailers who focused on print, such as free-standing inserts (FSI), migrating over to digital channels. 

It all goes back to that marketing truth—delivering the right product, at the right place, at the right time, and to the right consumer.

Oracle: How can data help retail marketers connect the dots, especially in a more digital world?

McIsaac: It’s really exciting for our team to be at the forefront of helping our clients act on the notion of people-based marketing. 

It’s a term that has been thrown around for years. But delivering now on that promise in such a fragmented ecosystem is really rewarding. 

Not only can we create best-in-class audiences that drive our clients KPIs, but we can help them to understand the effectiveness of those audiences across touchpoints.

We help marketers leverage data to better understand who their customers are and what’s most important to them.

Ultimately, retailers know their customers best, and are driven every day to enhance that customer experience. We love being part of the journey that helps them get there.

Our teams at Oracle Data Cloud are here to help retail marketers find success in 2018. Contact The Data Hotline today. (What's The Data Hotline?)

About Jen McIsaac

Jen is the Vice President & General Manager of the Retail and Restaurant business unit at the Oracle Data Cloud, where she is responsible for managing sales, solutions, product development, and operations across the company’s data-driven advertising solutions. 

Jen and her team are passionate about using data to provide best-in-class expertise and strategy to drive revenue and ROI for their clients.

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