What happens when massive digital companies decide to open offline businesses in more traditional sectors? The results of Amazon’s foray into supermarkets and beauty salons offers some interesting clues.
The Amazon Salon in London is more than 1,500 sq. ft. and offers all the services of a regular hairdresser. But it’s much more than that. It employs all the cutting-edge technology that could be useful in the industry and allows clients to purchase salon products directly through their Amazon accounts.
Amazon is using the salon to test the latest technology. For instance, clients can see how a hair color would look on them before they dye it through augmented reality. They are also using new point-and-learn technology, where clients can just point at a product they are interested in on a display shelf and relevant product information will appear on a display screen. If they want to buy the products they’ve pointed to and learned about, they just have to scan the QR code, which will take them right to the Amazon store. Fire tablets are also available at each styling station so customers stay entertained.
Amazon Salon is one example of a changing trend that has been emerging in recent years. We had gotten used to physical retail stores moving online, but now we’re seeing how digital companies are opening brick and mortar stores. The goal is to get closer to clients and establish new ways of interacting.
The goal is to get closer to clients and establish new ways of interacting.
This is where we arrive at the concept of omnichannel commerce. It’s a newly emerging trend that still has a long way to go and a lot of room for innovation. This isn’t just for big companies like Amazon, but for any company that is deeply experienced or knowledgeable in a particular sector or product. Any company that wants to innovate in this sense will have two main targets: improving the relationship with their customers and implementing the right marketing technology.
Improving customer relationships with MarTech
Properly defining clients is a crucial first step before designing the marketing strategy. Marketing technology (MarTech) tools can help in this process. The digital strategy has to be solid. All the activity in the physical and digital world will have to be linked in a coherent and all-encompassing way.
The main benefit of using MarTech tools is that they help eliminate the distance between the client and the company. They also help us with customer segmentation and definitions. But all businesses, large and small, have to decide the best way to use these tools to offer better services and products to their clients.
Companies have to first understand where they want to go, who they want to reach and which clients they want to attract. From there, they can choose the most suitable tools.
MarTech tools are generally quite helpful, but many companies don’t use them to their full potential. The key is using the intelligence they generate to create a strategy that helps companies reach their clients in the best possible way. Companies have to first understand where they want to go, who they want to reach and which clients they want to attract. From there, they can choose the most suitable tools.
In recent years, MarTech tools have undergone a major transformation. Before, they were very focused on specific areas of marketing that had very technical needs. Now, they are intertwined with digital transformation and have become much more transversal. For instance, they can also be applied to business strategy to help companies get closer to their customers.
Companies have different needs when it comes to MarTech. A B2B company, a B2C company, a large corporation or a small business are very different. For example, a small business will probably have much more specific technological needs. That’s why it’s key to consider how to adapt these tools to the company’s strategy.
MarTech tools applied to e-commerce and Marketing Automation
Besides omnichannel retail, we’d like to highlight some other growing trends in e-commerce. The industry has undergone a rapid transformation thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the most powerful new approaches has been proximity e-commerce, which is a digital model that serves very specific geographical areas. This has been the most popular option for traditional retail outlets, which face the challenge of refining their internal operations to manage their online sales operations. If done right, it can be lucrative. The pandemic has made more customers willing to buy more and purchase more expensive items online.
In this context, the direct-to-consumer trend is on the rise. That’s because brands that sell to consumers are finding more success. Putting the client at the center, giving them more information about the products and providing them with attractive tools and experiences are important differentiators. Retail outlets have to think about a lot more than price if they want to stand out.
One important challenge within e-commerce is to connect all the agents in the value chain. This includes the manufacturer, retailer, wholesaler, marketplaces, etc. That’s because some of the players haven’t gone through the digitization process, which redners seamless digital automation impossible throughout the entire value chain.
On the other hand, MarTech tools and platforms face another major challenge from the legal point of view — adjusting to new laws, regulations and approaches to digital privacy. Data has become the most relevant aspect of our digital economy, but some of the fundamentals are on the verge of change. That’s why companies should be especially aware of their marketing automation, their use of AI, how data is shared amongst providers, platform migrations that entail data transfers and other technological innovations that are centered around data.
Complying with the General Data Protection Regulation in the EU, similar laws elsewhere or even dealing with changes pushed forward by large tech companies like Google and Apple may become crucial when it comes time to choose the data automation platform. At the same time, this change presents a huge opportunity for new businesses that can come up with powerful ideas around how to use data in a way that respects privacy.
Integrating different marketing automation tools is another big challenge for marketing departments. It requires multidisciplinary teams that understand how to use these tools while also integrating them with other applications. The added challenge for these teams is understanding how to make the most of the tools, as they are often used at just a superficial level. Using AI technology is one of the best ways to maximize the usefulness of marketing automation.
Choosing the right tool is key for any company that decides to go in this direction. Instead of choosing complex tools that are difficult to use and implement, and therefore aren’t used to their fullest, companies often opt for using a variety of MarTech tools linked together. That, however, still presents the challenge of connecting the various data streams. But overall, choosing a tool that is not part of the big software ecosystem, that generates differential value, and is adapted to the team or businesses is often the most successful approach. At the end of the day, the goal with any of these tools is to build closer relationships with clients and get to know them on a deeper level.