As 2015 comes to a close and with 2020 only four years away, what are the biggest retail marketing challenges we need to consider now?

As part of our much-anticipated Retail 2020 Report we have been considering the future of shopping. Everything from understanding millennials and the most important trends to a future of robots has been carefully researched and pondered. You can sign-up to receive the report for free now. But what of the challenges?

Here are four of what we believe to be the biggest challenges facing retail marketing professionals as we move ever closer towards 2020.

  1. Big Data

There is an unprecedented amount of data at our disposal today and experts estimate that around 90% was created just in the last two years.

While data opens the way to real-time knowledge of the customer and enables multi-channel and cross device performance marketing, it can feel like a formidable ally because of the huge software infrastructure demands and complexity. There is also the challenge of volume – how do you personalise a response to millions of customers?

Few industries have greater rewards to reap than retail through best use of big data. While this is a journey that never ends as our customers, and how they shop, constantly evolve, what’s important is to begin the process of collecting data and addressing it – today.

  1. Infrastructure Investment

Big data software systems are just one example of the kind of infrastructure investment that will be necessary to meet the expectations of future shoppers.

Internet commerce has to keep up with Amazon levels of customer service, as they set the bar for expectations on range, availability, delivery and service. Bricks and mortar stores need to keep their environments and retail marketing fresh; change is much more frequent, it is expected and powerful.

  1. More participators

A GI Insight survey showed that while 94% of consumers belong to at least one loyalty programme, just under 50% of scheme members are actually active users.

This is all set to change, as wide adoption of mobile wallets will drive participation in loyalty schemes and promotions. Mobile wallets, incorporating paperless loyalty cards, will create a by-product of increased participation in schemes. Participation could rocket as loyalty points automatically notch up.

This means that retailers will need to completely reframe and redesign their schemes to make them commercially viable. For those shoppers who have been using schemes like Nectar or Boots Advantage points for years there will also be the requirement to re-educate the shopper – a process that carries enormous risk to ensure that the rewards are seen to have the same value.

  1. Real time marketing

Interaction between retailers and shoppers will become increasingly weighted towards social, which demands immediacy.

The main challenge here for retailers and brands is that as the social nature of shopping continues to develop, social interactions will need to be handled on a large scale, and nimbly.

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 This blog is a shortened version of a feature in The Behaviours Agency’s Retail 2020 Report – a guide to the most pertinent trends that retailers and brands need to be aware of to plan successfully for the future. Sign up for a free copy of the report today.

Adam Tregaskis, Head of Retail, The Behaviours Agency