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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Going, going, gone. What's going to happen to retail when the sales are over?

Sale Ends Today

Oh, Banksy. Always bang on the money with your witty observations (although - ironic art fact! - this oil on canvas swipe at consumerism didn't actually sell when Sotheby's tried to auction it in 2008). We are totally obsessed with sales, which is why it comes as no surprise that everyone from Buckingham Palace to the 99p Store chain is knocking off money quicker than the late Ronnie Biggs (incidentally, how do 99p Stores have sales?!).

Unsurprisingly, that's led to a slightly busier high street than usual (though not everywhere, it seems), but let's not kid ourselves here: people aren't shopping because the recession's over and they're merrily splashing the cash. They're stockpiling in preparation for the moment the sales end, making sure they have everything they need before that 80% off is actually off.

At which point, everything's likely to get rather bleak.

Traditionally, the post-sales period between leading up to Easter has been retail's time to experiment: click-and-collect, loyalty cards, even the world's first ever online store (1992's Book Stacks Unlimited) all came into being during Februaries past (as did the mobile internet and Facebook, incidentally). So now's definitely the time to plan something fresh and innovative.

The


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2014: the year social media management grows the hell up

2014: the year social media grows the hell up

This is our fourth prediction for 2014. For our other predictions, click here.

Everybody's favourite Page on Facebook is Condescending Corporate Brand Page. If you're not a fan, stop reading this (just for a second!) and go get clicky. They post things like this: More genius

Brutal genius. But C.C.B.P.'s war against meaningless 'engagement' by brands too scared to admit they're trying to sell stuff isn't just funny, it's gut-punchingly insightful. For far too long, social media managers have been chasing utterly meaningly metrics (engagement, likes, sharing) in a desperate race to the bottom. The tail isn't just wagging the dog, it's started bashing Fido violently against the nearest wall until he's had to be put down for his own good.

So, blam. Here's the humane injection, the brutal truth: if you do the social media for a brand who sell things, your job is to sell things. There is only one metric you should care about: how many sales have your posts generated? Cute kitten pictures may get liked and shared like crazy, but they've never, ever sold a bottle of multivitamins. And, trust us, your CEO will be on the warpath in 2014, looking for cold,


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2014: the year shopping becomes a game

2014: the year shopping becomes a game

This is our third prediction for 2014. For our other predictions, click here.

The internet has always been about competition. I'm the Foursquare Mayor of this kebab shop. Her cute kittens blog just jumped up 1,000 places in the Alexa rankings. You have 934 unread emails in your inbox since the Christmas break (yeah, we know - painfully true). And these things have massively benefitted the bewildering growth of the 'net.

But the one aspect of the internet which hasn't - until now - profited by man's inherent need to compete is shopping. Don't get me wrong - we all like to brag about how we bought our house for £Xk less than the asking price, or how we jumped in and 'won' an auction seconds before it closed. But there's only ever one winner in those scenarios. Competition (until now) has never helped promote growth; it's never benefitted the masses.

That's going to change in 2014.

Up until now, when you said "Social-Commerce" people would think "f-commerce" and remember those terrible store-fronts bolted onto brands' Facebook Pages. Now, there's nothing wrong with aspiring to sell to a billion people on Facebook but, if you're going to distract people


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2014: the year writers become sellers

2014: the year writers become sellers

This is our second prediction for 2014. Keep up to date with the next ones here.

The past few years have seen retailers storm into the world of content, grab it by the baubles and stuff it like a turkey. That's why Tesco Magazine is now the most read publication in the UK. Bigger than The Daily Mail. Bigger than The Sun. Bigger than The Daily Prophet. Amazing.

And it's not just print media. Retailers have started dominating the world of online content, too - be that bespoke recipes from Heston and Delia on the Waitrose website or the uniquely useful product videos at Appliances Online. So... where do old-fashioned content players fit into this? How do the newspapers and the magazines and even the blogs compete?

They compete by dishing out a dose of the same medicine, that's how. If retailers are going to do content, content producers need to reciprocate by doing retail. And they're uniquely positioned to do it, too - with amazing audiences, established positions of authority and unique sway with brands and suppliers. But a commercial play won't work if content producers just try to bolt some crumby old affiliate store onto their websites. They


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