GUEST POST: Wednesday’s Antonia Thompson has had years of experience in creating innovative and relevant digital messaging for fashion and luxury brands. Each project requires tailored strategy and messaging to work for individual client’s needs, and of course, there are a few challenges along the way!
Antonia candidly talks us through her checklist of the challenges brands must consider as they compete to create the crème de la crème of digital spaces.
1. IT legacy issues
Retail has changed more in the last decade than in the last century — we are moving and evolving at such a fast pace that the biggest challenge for brands and retailers today is waiting for the back-end to catch up. It’s impossible for technology and practice to keep up with the speed at which the thinking and strategy is developing (e.g. recommendation engines, virtual fitting rooms, etc.).
2. A single view of the customer & inventory
In order to create tailored and relevant brand experiences across channels, it is crucial to have a centralized view of your product inventory as well a consolidated record of your customers’ interactions. This is something many retailers are talking about, but few are finding easy to achieve.
3. Using data wisely
Gathering data about your product inventory, your customers and their interactions with your brand is only the first step. The challenge is knowing how to analyze this data to translate findings into actionable insights, and then put these into practice.
4. Understanding & entertaining the consumer
It’s critical to keep up with an ever-informed and increasingly self-indulgent customer. Let’s be honest, whether we like it or not, retail has entered a world of “ME” in recent years: cater to me, speak to me on my terms, entertain me, give me what I want when I want it… We’re creating a whole world of little Veruca Salts and unfortunately brands have to keep up if they want to remain competitive!
5. Implementing change
Getting people (or brands) who tend to be quite set in their ways to embrace and adopt new behaviours is tricky. The old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” comes to mind here. You can introduce new features and functionalities but you can’t force someone to follow a process. And you have to acknowledge that change can be difficult for people who are used to doing things in certain ways that have historically always worked for them.
6. Battling inertia
The challenge to remain fresh and dynamic can be daunting for brands today. Generating, producing and maintaining branded content across multiple channels – and ensuring that content is maximised across paid, own and earned media – is not a small undertaking. It requires strategy, planning and coordination of internal resources and teams.
7. Cutting through the noise
Today people are bombarded with an intense amount of information, stimulus and offers. Many brands feel they need to create content just for the sake of it, but it’s critical to be strategic about the nature and frequency of content, and how your customers wish to engage with or digest brand information. Those brands who are able to cut through the ‘noise’ and communicate with customers on a one-on-one basis, offering utility, relevance and real reasons to engage, are the ones who will succeed.
8. Thinking globally, acting locally
Consistency is critical in an omni-channel world. It can be tricky to project a consistent image of your brand across channels, customer segments and geographic markets, and yet still tailor messages, services and offers according to cultural specificities.