The Key to Pivoting From Pandemic Recovery to Profitable Growth

Shift from a position of customer-focus to customer-obsession to future-proof your business

In 2021, retailers are being held to the same—if not greater—ecommerce sales targets that they were in 2020. Walmart and Target have raised their financial targets for 2021 based on the success of 2020, and Wayfair will be up against even more difficult growth comparisons as revenue soared 84% last year. While Chewy fetched a profit in 2020, the retailer has large hurdles to overcome on the long-term path to profitability.

So, how can retailers meet, and even exceed, these challenging online sales targets head-on? Which performance marketing channels will yield their greatest return on ad spend (ROAS)? Let’s find out the answers to these questions and more.

Adopt a mindset of customer obsession

Accenture suggests that retailers achieve profitable growth by adopting a culture of customer obsession. Indeed, the consulting firm’s route to profitability involves making customer obsession a top priority across the entire C-suite. Retailers who adopt this strategy, argues chief strategy officer Baiju Shah, will experience 6-times faster profit growth. Allison Peterson, chief customer officer at Best Buy explains that true customer-centricity requires retailers to develop a customer-facing mindset across their organizations, actively breaking down silos and creating coordinated cross-functional workflows that create seamless and consistently positive customer experiences.

To remain customer-first, retailers also need to adapt in real time to a changing digital landscape, ensuring that digital buying processes are as quick, simple and intuitive as possible. In fact, Bertram Schulte, CDO at SAP explains, “Revamping digital channels and digital-purchasing processes is a great starting point for building better customer experiences and making your organization customer-centric.”

Discover customers’ online habits

So, how do retailers begin revamping their digital channels and purchasing processes to create the best possible experience for customers, enhancing customer acquisition, loyalty and meeting all-important targets along the way?

The first step to becoming truly customer-centric is to discover where your shoppers spend the majority of their time. According to ComScore and Nielsen, Americans spend:

  • 22% of their time online using social media sites
  • 21% of their time online using online search
  • 20% of their time online reading content
  • 19% of their time sending and receiving email
  • 13% of their time online watching multimedia content
  • 5% of their time online shopping

Delivering the right message to the right buyer at the right stage of their shopping journey is complex. Connexity, a performance marketing and technology network, serves advertisers’ campaigns across shopping content, search listings and social media placements, meaning that they address over 60% of the time spent online identified by ComScore and Nielsen.

Retailers across the home and garden, fashion and apparel, beauty and cosmetics, and electronics verticals reach shoppers wherever they are in their shopping journeys by working hand-in-hand with Connexity. Let’s dive into those three channels a little more:

Content. Specifically, highly contextual shopping content produced by premium, enterprise publishers with loyal audiences primed to convert. When Connexity acquired Skimlinks in May 2020, Connexity gained access to 18 of the world’s 20 largest publishers, including Meredith, Condé Nast and Hearst.

Social media and influencer recommendations. Influencer marketing is poised to reach $13.8 billion in 2021 and businesses are generating $5.20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing, according Influencer Marketing Hub. The Connexity influencer network enables retailers’ products to be promoted by nearly 6,000 sophisticated social media creators with large and highly engaged audiences of followers hungry for inspiration.

Search. Just as retailers strive to be customer-obsessed, search platforms continue to update their algorithms to reflect the growing importance of user experience (UX). Marketers must adopt a nimble and proactive dual-focus on SEO and PPC campaigns, both of which are critical to significant traffic, and to reaching consumers at the high purchase-intent phase of their shopping journeys. Connexity’s proprietary bidding algorithm delivers PPC campaigns for retailers at scale, with a proprietary bidding algorithm that ensures campaigns are complimentary, not cannibalistic, to any existing search campaigns. This takes the burden of PPC off overstretched teams, freeing them to focus on the SEO tactics that matter most to their brands.

Future-proof your business

Faced with growth comparison targets that are equal to, if not greater than 2020 figures, retailers must pivot from a position of customer-focus to one of customer-obsession. Discovering where and how consumers spend time online is critical to success. Partnering with a reliable technology vendor can unlock access to incremental advertising placements and meet retailers’ consumers at the exact moment that they make purchase decisions.

Chelsea Wyman is the director of retail and brand partnerships at Connexity. Driven by results, she takes pride in helping leading retailers to acquire new customers and drive incremental sales to their websites while achieving ROI goals.