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Tsuey Lee, Senior Planner
Tsuey Lee, Senior Planner 17 November 2020

Why consumer centric retail marketing gets results (and how to do it)

From in-store marketing to direct-to-consumer selling, brands have a range of new challenges to navigate in retail. Customer centric thinking is the thread that'll make your retail marketing work

Tsuey Lee, Senior Planner
Tsuey Lee, Senior Planner 17 November 2020

From in-store marketing to direct-to-consumer selling, brands have a range of new challenges to navigate in retail. Customer centric thinking is the thread that'll make your retail marketing work

The world of retail is transforming at an unprecedented speed. And with change comes challenges, but also tremendous opportunities.

Like many others sectors, retail is being disrupted by technology – whether it’s influencing demand, upgrading brand marketing, or reinventing physical stores.

Increased technological capabilities also introduces a more demanding and empowered consumer. Smartphone-enabled, tech-savvy consumers expect a unique and streamlined experience at their fingertips. With online search and research playing a role in buyer journeys for most products, retailers (and brands that sell through retail) need to adapt their marketing to fit those journeys.

You can read more about this shift in our whitepaper, Get retail right in 2021. Download it now!

The impact of COVID on retail

Shifts in consumer expectations have been fast-tracked on a global scale in 2020 due to various market-changing factors such as the COVID-19 outbreak.

In order to succeed in such turbulent times, you need to keep the consumer at the heart of everything you do, going beyond just a simple customer focus.

We aren’t only talking about employing innovative technologies. True innovation and customer-centricity lies in the deployment of data-driven insights alongside technology, to precisely define customers and optimise their entire experience. This informs everything before, during and after the sale, and is key to encouraging repeat sales and brand loyalty.

The customer centric opportunity

Research has found that customer-centric companies are a staggering 60% more profitable compared to those that still take a product-centric approach to their marketing.

We have helped clients achieve similarly outstanding results by adopting shopper-led strategies.

How does customer centricity translate to retail?

Employing a customer-centric strategy in retail relates to so much more than just in-store experiences. Customers will experience your brand both online and offline, before, during and after the sale. From your brand identity to your website to in-store displays, all touchpoints act as messages that combine to form your customer experience.

So, every touchpoint, across each of your channels, needs to be customer-centric and driven by customer-data.

Amazon is a great example of how a brand can use customer data to drive experience. All its touchpoints and strategic decisions from its CRM, loyalty programmes and disruptive mindset are guided by shopper behaviours and trends.

Read the blog – What we can learn about from Amazon.

But Amazon has two big advantages over most brands – scale and ubiquity. Most brands have to fight hard for their share of sales, and use a mix of online and offline sales channels.

It all points to an omnichannel retail approach

What we’re really talking about above is adopting an omnichannel approach to winning sales through retail.

What is omnichannel retail?

Adopting an omnichannel retail strategy has the goal of aligning all your channels so that the customer has a joined-up experience, no matter where they encounter your brand.

What’s more, an omnichannel strategy means that each channel is integrated – so each interaction develops the user through your sales funnel.

There are loads of ways brands can make their users’ experience more integrated. For example:

  • Ensuring that no matter what device the consumer uses, their experience is informed by their previous interactions

  • Ensuring customer service interactions can be picked up on any device, without starting from scratch

  • Enabling in-store sales assistants to order out-of-stock items and have them sent straight to the customer’s home

  • Providing content to a customer based on their loyalty app behaviours

Why is omnichannel so important (and what’s the difference between multichannel and omnichannel)?

Consumers now shop in a variety of ways. Physical stores have their place, the smartphone is now seen as a shopping and payment device, and online experiences are central to product research and buying.

So omnichannel approaches like the examples above (and there are thousands of other ways to implement omnichannel approaches) makes the user’s life easier.

Contrast with a simpler multichannel approach. Most marketers understand that they need to be present in multiple channels – online, in-store, TV, and so on. But if the user’s activity in those channels doesn’t join up, the user starts their relationship with your brand from scratch every time they encounter it.

In today’s hyper connected world, this leads to frustration, dead ends for the customer journey and ultimately missed opportunities to make sales.

Use customer-centric thinking to inform your omnichannel strategy

Understanding your consumers is the key that’ll unlock the potential of omnichannel.

The implementation of a customer-centric strategy starts with understanding your audience’s demographics, preferences and behaviours. For example, transaction data allows for segmentation in terms of lifetime value and profitability, whereas demographics and life stage data may inform your messaging and creative strategy.

Different businesses have different quantities and quality of data at their disposal. That’s OK. The key is to assess your data collection, join it up where you can, and identify the gaps that your marketing activity needs to fill in to fully inform your strategy.

Once you have a comprehensive understanding of your audience(s), you can then identify and build out your full customer journey, spanning both online and offline environments. That’s where omnichannel strategy comes in.

An integrated approach to planning your customer journey is essential, ensuring all customer-facing messages and touchpoints ladder up to your overarching brand experience.

It’s vital you base all the above on your various data sources. At Indicia Worldwide, our Intelligent Decisions suite of products and services is designed to do just that – empower and inform your strategy based on real-world data.

Find out more about Intelligent Decisions today.

Your customer journey mapping exercise will highlight ways that you can be more customer centric. Here are some thought starters…

Omnichannel – from SEO to ecommerce to in-store

Many brands find that the customer buying journey starts online with search and research. Being found online therefore becomes a vitally important part of your marketing – and an SEO strategy will need to be written and rolled out. SEO doesn’t detract from in-store shopping – in many cases, it’s the first touchpoint that leads to purchase. 

There's an interesting case study of the DIY industry, which explores this in more detail,  featured in Get retail right in 2021 our quick-read paper. Download it now!

Read it now

The growing importance of direct to consumer

Direct to consumer (D2C) sales were already growing in importance even before COVID-19 hit the world. Now, brands that lack a D2C sales channel are at a clear disadvantage, because consumers need to be able to buy in a variety of ways. We wrote about this in some detail on our paper, Get retail right in 2021 – get it today.

Physical stores and delightful experiences

For many retail brands and brands that sell through retail, the role of the store has changed. Experiential marketing has got closer to the retail world, because consumers use stores differently.

If consumer buying journeys start online, does your retail space need to be more of a place to experience the products? Would your focus be best honed upon providing friction-free click and collect services?

Every brand will have different priorities – that’s why that customer journey mapping exercise is so important.

Test and learn methodologies

Putting robust data collection and analytics capabilities in place for your brand means you can apply the kinds of test and learn methods usually reserved only for digital marketing to all areas of your omnichannel strategy.

From your store design and POS to your email marketing and social media, turning your business into a customer-centric machine means you’ll be able to constantly optimise your marketing.

Global considerations

Global brands have more to consider, because consumer behaviour isn’t the same the world over. What works in one territory might not work well in another. For example, consumers in some parts of the world are less likely to transact on mobile, whereas in other parts of the world it’s virtually the norm.

Only by analysing the data you have at your disposal will you be able to land upon the omnichannel strategy that works for each consumer.

We talk about all this on more detail in our paper – 5 steps to success in ‘new normal’ retail. Download it now!

Some practical ideas and resources for customer centric retail strategy

There are many ways to introduce customer centricity into your retail business and environment. Here are 5 key trends and techniques that could get you started on your road to customer-centric omnichannel marketing…

How to use social media to boost in-store sales

social-media-shopping-1196722184How do you unify your social media channels to drive sales in-store? Read the blog to find out.

individuals-in-a-crowd1181760380Deliver data-driven journeys across devices to join up user-experiences. As a brand, creating a digital presence that’s driven by individuals receiving a personalised experience will lead to optimised conversion. So how can you create deeper personalised web experiences for users? Find out more here.


Unify your brand message through integrated marketing. Creating consistent experiences across channels is a must as we see the number of channels increase. Find out the top 10 tips for creating an integrated campaign here.


Bring mobile experiences into retail. This can also help retailers adapt to changing customer behaviour post-COVID. Find out how to integrate mobile experiences in-store today to improve your customer-centricity.


Prioritise D2C sales. Most brands haven't moved beyond using data for 'insight and research' purposes. The ecommerce techniques in use aren't joined up across channels. The missing link to achieve high-converting, laser targeted, measurable D2C brand experiences is the ability to build 1st party data and an addressable audience. Read the blog here.

The need for test and learn

Being customer-centric isn’t just a one-off process or set-up. As a consumer focused business, you need to continually evolve your approach as your dataset and customers change. All testing should start and end with customer data, aligning with your business objectives and be an unceasing cycle to analyse, ideate, test and improve.

There are various tools that you can use track performance and effectiveness between channels. For example, you can track actual footfall conversions from online ads with Google Analytics. You can now even measure the effectiveness of your in-store POS using a combination of cutting-edge technology and clever data processing.

Find out how we measure the effectiveness of your point of sale marketing.

How to get your whole business onboard

If you are going to be truly customer-centric, you need to consider how you communicate with the rest of your business. Success in this field requires the backing from the whole business, not just one team or department. Consider how you will get buy-in from board level through proving the concept and putting your customers at the centre of everything your business does. The potential rewards are huge.

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