Every Marketer Should Work Retail

Dec 18, 2018

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Whether you’re a B2B technologist, a CFO, or a CPG brand marketer, consider a part-time stint in Retail for a quick path to identifying new ways to grow your business. Whatever you are building, creating or operationalizing, your work eventually impacts your consumers’ experiences. Sometimes that’s hard to see in our corporate silos and day-to-day tasks. A day in Retail is one of the quickest, most transparent places to see how discrete business functions come together to fuel (or detract from) a consumer experience – important across industries, not just Retail.

Understanding that most people reading this blog aren’t interested in making $10.10/hour in a Retail job, instead take some time to bring a critical business lens to your own consumer Retail experience (whether physical or digital).  Here are things you’ll quickly learn:

Integration is essential to business growth. In Retail, back-end meets front-end, product meets human resources, and corporate strategies have to play out in the dressing room and at check out. All these facets and more have to come together to interact with the consumer. Retailers haven’t figured this out in full. In fact, 87% of retailers agree omnichannel is a critical business function, yet only 8% believe they have mastered it. Retailers are working toward it more aggressively than most industries, looking for the pay-off of the 30% higher LTVs that retailers with omni-channel strategies see.

Learn how to talk in consumer’s language. Your company vocabulary isn’t for the uninitiated. If you want consumers to understand your value and act on it, you need to tell your story in a compelling way during the span of time it takes to check out a consumer. If you can’t, then your story is too long and too complicated. The Elevator Speech becomes the Register Test or the Load Speed Test.

  • 53% of mobile site visits leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. The same is true in-store or in a sales pitch. The consumer may not leave your physical space, but you’ve lost their attention.
  • There’s a very real revenue impact to making the consumer’s perspective a top priority. Brands that don’t provide simple, easily digestible consumer experiences are leaving an estimated share of $86 billion on the table.

Embrace consumers that think differently. Don’t assume you have a single consumer type or a single consumer path. It’s not true – in any industry. Consumers buy for a variety of reasons, even if a business sells only one product. Businesses that put a priority on relevance that responds to consumer needs will be more successful than those that require consumers to fit into limited, scaled and rigid processes.

  • Research from Accenture shows that companies are losing $1 trillion in annual revenues to their competitors because they are not consistently relevant enough.
  • On the upside, HBR has seen that personalization can reduce acquisition costs up to 50%, lift revenues by 5%-15%, and increase marketing spend efficiency by 10% – 30%.

Adopt a nimble, test-and-learn culture. Retail’s fast pace is pressure-filled, but also full of opportunity to test into new ways to drive revenue, stay ahead of the competition and connect with consumers. Moving away from a set-it-and-forget-it mentality creates a more dynamic consumer relationship that pays off. Culturally, it’s hard to fully embrace a test-and-learn culture, because it also requires a culture that embraces failure. Optimizely estimates that it takes 6 – 10 tests to reach a positive result. Made even harder by the fact that most companies short cut the extra steps to create statistically significant results. The pay-off is a consumer experience and value proposition that doesn’t stagnate, but finds new ways to connect, retain and generate revenue.

So, let’s get outside the white-board walls of our marketing ivory towers to understand how we’re fueling (or not) the consumer experience. Whether that’s working in Retail or getting to the front lines of your own business, let’s understand how a business’ back-end meets its front-end. Let’s tell our stories with language that works for consumers. Let’s embrace more consumer types as more consumer opportunity. Let’s test into new ways to connect with those consumers. The Result: A consumer experience that makes it easier for consumer to love your brand and buy your products. A better business experience where your work makes a material difference in how your business grows.