Data: digital retail's top three priorities for 2014

 Digital Retail Priorities 2014

Following a mixed Christmas - overall gloom leavened by the occasional boom - 2014 is shaping up to be a year of radical change for the digital retail industry. More so than ever, those who can't adapt won't survive the lean Q1 months ahead, so what changes lie in-store now that the tinsel's down and the profit warnings are looming?

We surveyed over 200 Heads of eCommerce and Heads of Social from across Europe and the United States to gauge their top strategic priorities for 2014. What changes will they be making? How will they be spending their budgets? What are their goals for the year ahead? Below are their top three responses: smarter promotions, innovative customer acquisition and generating real ROI from social. But, first, here are a few surprises from the survey.

  • Is this the end for old social? In previous years, we’d have expected to see lots of digital retailers and marketers focusing on growing their social audiences by adding 'Likes' and followers. But our survey indicated that only 4% of respondents regarded this as critical goal for the coming year, with the emphasis shifting towards monetisation of that audience instead (see below).

  • Money talks. Two

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Pepsi's crushing Coke in social

Pepsi's crushing Coca-Cola in social

The social media marketing world has been all in a tizz about Coca-Cola Senior Manager of Marketing Strategy and Insights, Eric Schmidt's, recent comments about their industry. Specifically, his revelation that all the positive buzz generated by his social team only bolsters Coke sales by a miniscule 0.01%.

Well, forgive us - this is going to sound a wee bit blunt. But what do Coke expect? No one buys a can of Coke online. Not unless they're seriously patient and a little bit strange. And, sure, there might be a little ambient goodwill that ferments in the soul of a Fan or Follower until they next pass a newsagent but a) you're going to really struggle to track this and b) you're ceding all control at that stage to the retailer. One big promotion for a rival and all your hard work will probably be undone.

But Coke's problem isn't that they're using social. It's that they're using social media marketing instead of social commerce. The moment you start selling in social, everything changes. Why? Because there's an immediate action. There's instant engagement. You create a desire and serve that desire right there in the social arena. And, if that sounds a little theoretical, it really isn't. In fact, we're already doing exactly that with Coke's biggest rival, PepsiCo - and it's working amazingly. Here's a lowdown...

Pepsi Max Social Commerce Case Study

So, here's the good news for Mr Schmidt and Coca-Cola - brands like his can sell via social. But you need to think about what you're selling and you need to sell it socially, where the audience is, not wait for them to purchase later or send them off to a faceless e-commerce store. Get that nailed and you'll see a massive upswing in engagement, sharing and sales. Carry on doing what you have been doing (and Coke have been quick to clarify that they have no plans to change their strategy) and the results will be disastrous.

Robin Bresnark

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