Building consumer trust in an environment where forces outside your sphere of influence are continuously threatening to erode it.

The pandemic continues to drive a tsunami of change in consumer behaviors just as consumer privacy movements are triggering seismic shifts in how brands can track and measure engagement with their customers online. In the immediate aftermath of the pandemic closings, every company with something to sell had the digital-first tidal wave wash over them. This was closely followed by iOS 14.5 wiping out the instrumentation marketers had relied on to navigate to their customers in digital waters. And the next wave is already in sight. In a recent virtual roundtable, Dentsu Commerce President and Chief Strategist Jon Reily and RealEats CMO Richard Leslie led a discussion that unpacked these challenges and more.

Channel strategy diversification is the new black but every company has a completely unique look 

  • The mix of direct-to-consumer, third party marketplace, retail, and other channel strategies is constantly shifting and changing. The elasticity in your system is now the most important attribute of it. 
  • If you’ve done a hard move to pull inventory online, think aggressively about what the product mix should look like to sustain a long term online presence.  
  • Recognize that your retail channel partners and other resellers are constantly dialing their mix too. Closely watch their movements. Expect the unexpected and more competition. 

Negotiate search term ‘no-fly zones’ with your brick and mortar retailers up front. As rolling pandemic closures continue, expect them to get more aggressive online. Without these handshakes they can drive up your search term costs for sale that ultimately yields lower margins because they got to the customer before you did.
– Richard Leslie

Questions to ask before diving deep into building your own third party marketplace: 

  • Do we see the marketplace as an extension of our existing business, or as a new business?  If you have two product managers – one for the current business and a second for the marketplace – that’s a flag. 
  • Is the marketplace a way to bring more SKUs to the market or is it a way to provide more services and deepen our relationship with customers? If it’s looking like an endless aisle, that’s a flag. 

The customer journey is now even more of a labyrinth

  • Scenario planning used to be a nice-to-have luxury, a domain reserved for the biggest, multi-billion dollar corporations. Now it’s table stakes for companies large and small.  

Customers always have a screen in arm’s reach. We don’t go shopping, we’re always shopping. From a marketer’s perspective, it’s as if consumers suddenly have a time machine, appearing, disappearing, then reappearing across stages of the ecommerce experience and through time. This makes scenario planning so strategically vital because it helps you see the openings where you can drive conversion.
– Jon Reily 

Going old school is new again

  • With algorithms, behavioral, and profiling data failing and the accuracy of forecasts more closely resembling that of fortune cookies, marketers are going back to basics to strengthen the connection to customers. 
  • Focus more on the messaging, developing the story, and investing in the creative. In this transition where the digital marketing instrumentation is breaking, invest in the storytelling.

The most volatile currency: trust 

  • The owners of marketplaces have incentives to flood them with vendors, creating a space where unscrupulous merchants can have equal footing with legitimate ones. Knock-offs and fakes can be sold side-by-side with authentic products, with the consumer none the wiser. 

There’s a degree of trust involved in every marketplace, and these trends are eroding it. The challenge for every vendor is to lock arms with their customers and create a trusted connection where it’s “me and you against the world.
– Jon Reily 

➡️ CMO Club members can watch the virtual roundtable replay here.

➡️  Join your peers for an upcoming CMO Club virtual roundtable. Check out the calendar of events