Retailers and suppliers are collaborating more than ever before. In a 2020 Coresight Research report, respondents said collaborating improves customer service and operations. It also creates a stronger promotion strategy and more advantageous pricing.
However, retailers and brands also agree they need to partner more to improve the customer experience and grow sales. The report found that of those who said collaboration is challenging, 62% of retailers and 56% of suppliers cited limited data transparency as a key barrier.
Advanced data analytics enables more productive use of data, streamlined promotional processes and stronger content—in a discreet, controlled environment. In this article, we highlight three key areas where retailers and suppliers can collaborate more effectively:
- Retailer data in exchange for product promotional support
- Shared technology and platforms for time-consuming tasks such as creative approvals
- Content and commerce integrations for better consumer focus
Collaboration between retailers and brands has been improving throughout the supply chain, but much more could be done to enhance the customer experience and optimize revenue opportunities.
“Ultimately, the shopper having a better experience is good for everybody,” said Leah Logan, VP of Media Products, at Inmar Intelligence. “Retailers are going to drive more sales. The brands are going to see better ROI from their marketing investment. Everybody wins when brands and retailers collaborate”
A 2020 report from Coresight Research found that 70% of retailers and 58% of suppliers said better collaboration yields added responsiveness to market and shopper trends. The report found that among those respondents who cited collaboration between retailers and suppliers as being challenging, 62% of retailers and 56% of suppliers said limited data transparency was a key barrier.
In an increasingly digitized shopping environment, collaborative retailer and brand efforts have become even more important. Ubiquitous digital access means shoppers have complete control over when, where and how they shop, and they have come to expect retailers to deliver convenience, value and personalization.
“Retailers are going to drive more sales. The brands are going to see better ROI from their marketing investment. Everybody wins when brands and retailers collaborate.” – Leah Logan, VP of Media Products, at Inmar Intelligence
Retailers that are committed to serving those needs — by providing curated product assortments or high levels of service, for example — can generate revenues from their brand partners over and above the sales they ring up at the register.
Retailers can be seen in three buckets somewhere along the continuum of leveraging their data to enhance the customer experience and attract brand investment, according to Spencer Baird, EVP & President, Martech:
- A limited number of retailers are trying to figure out how to generate alternate revenue from the data that they have collected from their shoppers, and these retailers are collecting any ad dollars from suppliers without optimizing their placement or coordinating the ads with store activity.
- Many retailers have graduated to the next level, and are already generating revenue from their shopper data. They are now trying to figure out how to optimize that revenue stream. These retailers have better coordination between the store and online and have more strategic deployment of their ads, but lack a high level of personalization.
- Some leading retailers, meanwhile, are further along this customer-centric continuum and are trying to figure out ways to make sure the mission of their alternate revenue streams works in concert with their everyday mission around the classic “four P’s” of marketing: product, price, place and promotion. These retailers are serving more personalized solutions to individual shoppers based on more effective use of their shopper data in partnership with brands.
The following are three key areas where retailers and brands can work together to achieve their common goals:
Collaboration through data
Brands would like to have access to more retail sales data in exchange for providing promotional support for their products, but retailers need to maintain control of the use of their data and also need control over and transparency in how it’s being used.
According to Inmar’s Retail Data Survey, 93.4% of retailers find data accessibility important for supplier activations to deliver personalized consumer experiences, and 13.21% find it extremely important.
In addition, 87.39% of brands would spend more on their top three consumer touchpoints if they had enhanced access to retail data and retail media inventory, the Retail Data Survey found.
Brands are more than willing to pay for the use of retailer data in order to help direct their marketing. However, they also expect to be able to use retailer data in order to measure the impact of that spending. Retail marketing platforms have evolved to offer better targeting and attribution of the connection between promotion and sales through different channels.
“I think the biggest challenge that exists today is that [some] retailers are asking brands to participate and to drive marketing programs to support their retail objectives, without making that data accessible, or making that data accessible in a limited use,” said Logan.
Retailers’ concerns, meanwhile, revolve around the security of the data and the protection of their customers’ information. Retailers need to have control and transparency around how their customer data is used, especially as shoppers spend more time outside the retail ecosystem.
Inmar’s Media Manager tool, which uses the company’s ShopperSync customer data platform, solves this challenge by allowing shoppers to grant permission for specific uses of their data and offering control and visibility to both brands and retailers.
“Ultimately both parties can stay aligned through Media Manager,” said Logan. “We think about it as a dual data marketplace.”
In addition, Media Manager also has the ability to make data available to facilitate media buys on third-party platforms, such as Facebook, on the open Web, or through data connectivity platforms such as LiveRamp.
Collaboration through technology/platforms
Brands are willing to collaborate with retailers on messaging, but their timelines don’t permit lengthy approvals and/or delays due to retailer backlogs.
Retailers, meanwhile, can’t afford to scale their teams to fully collaborate with brands at the levels they expect. Retailers need solutions that enable them to better work with brands on timeconsuming tasks such as creative approvals.
There appears to be a significant opportunity to drive sales by optimizing this process, however. Inmar’s In-Store Survey found 69.4% of shoppers recall seeing in-store product messaging. Furthermore, 68.7% of consumers browsed the product featured in the messaging, and 60.81% purchased the product.
Messaging through retailer loyalty programs is perhaps one of the key areas where retailer data is key to creating a more personalized customer experience through the use of shopper data.
Inmar’s Incentives Manager, which also leverages data from ShopperSync, facilitates the creation of individualized messagesbased on past shopping behavior. This goes beyond simple product recommendations, Logan explained, and encompasses timely offers and messaging that are tailored to drive sales based on each individual’s customer journey. Such messaging can be used to motivate historically regular customers who may be in danger of lapsing, for example, or to adjust the value of an offer to optimize margins based on each individual’s receptivity to discounts.
- 64% of consumers would share personal info with a brand or retailer in exchange for personalized experiences/coupons/benefits.
- 89.5% of consumers admit that personalized shopping experiences provided by a brand or retailer impact the amount spent/shopped with that brand or retailer.
- 98.2% of brands say that access to first-party retail data improves their ability to deliver personalized experiences to end consumers.
“Brands and retailers can work together on every stage of that execution, and every milestone of approvals. They can do all of this within a platform.” – Leah Logan, VP of Media Products at Inmar Intelligence
Social commerce is another opportunity where retailers and brands can collaborate. Influencers on social media have a tremendous impact on shopper behavior, especially younger shoppers.
Access to retailer sales data enables retailers and brands to better measure the effectiveness of influencer social media campaigns.
With Inmar’s Communities platform, retailers and brands can work together to curate a group of influencers that are well-suited for a particular retailer, and evaluate their performance.
“Brands and retailers can work together on every stage of that execution, and every milestone of approvals,” said Logan. “They can do all of this within a platform.“
Collaboration through content and commerce integrations
Retailers would like to have more content, and content that is exclusive, for the shoppers in their ecosystems. Brands want to reach shoppers both within ecosystems and outside of them. This includes collaboration outside of retailer owned-and-operated channels, and incentives, such as add-to-cart, and incentives outside traditional retail ecosystems。
The increase in online shopping in the past year — whether for pickup or delivery, or simply for product research — has exacerbated the need for better content that engages consumers and provides the information they are seeking when making purchasing decisions.
Retailers may be missing out on sales opportunities from shoppers who are viewing content on platforms other than a retailer’s own website, even if they are not shopping for a specific product, Logan explained.
By targeting consumers with messaging and offers on platforms such as Instagram that are related to content they are viewing, retailers and brands stand to reap potential incremental sales.
“In the social space, that’s an area where there’s a ton of opportunity for improvement,” said Logan.
Inmar’s Messaging solution allows for these types of integrations that can drive content-to-commerce shopper activations. In addition, retailers can leverage these tools to maintain communications with customers following the activation, inviting feedback on the product and the purchase experience, for example.
“I think retailers want those experiences to happen within their apps and within their own retail ecosystems, but at some point I think there’s more opportunity to take pieces of the retail experience and then go where the people are, to bring that experience to the shopper,” Logan explained.
“The goal,” she said, “is to make it as simple as possible for the shopper, so they have an optimal experience and are left with memorable impressions of both the brand and the retailer.”
The future of retailer-brand collaboration
Baird said he sees six key areas of retailer-brand collaboration evolving in the future:
- Both retailers and brands will need to shift their focus to the shopper experience and on driving frequency and basket size, rather than output metrics such as unit and dollar sales, margins and percent change.
- Retailers and brands also need to focus more on collaborative planning and learning.
- The fact that consumers are seeking both value and personalization lends itself to retailer-brand collaboration in digital channels.
- Retailers need to think of their brands as partners. The idea of a multi-vendor monetization scheme is a challenge today, and will be more so in the future.
- Shopper lifestage will become increasingly important, and it will require a level of planning sophistication that will only be enabled through sharper workflow improvement tooling.
- There needs to be a change in focus from return on ad spend (ROAS) to delivery on brand objectives (DOBO). This is a smarter, more targeted and more intuitive way to advertise that requires better upfront declaration of objectives prior to launching a campaign.
“The more focus a retailer places on the shopper, the more attractive they become to brands seeking to invest their marketing dollars.” – Spencer Baird, EVP & President, Martech
“I think that brands and retailers need to continue to remove barriers to put the shopper first, and they need to be extremely deliberate about how they do that,” said Logan. “There is a need for more planning, a need to really be deliberate about who you’re reaching and why, and with what, and when.
“Sometimes within brands and within retailers, there’s a lot of bureaucracy and red tape and complexity,” she said. “We’ve seen more and more desire from some of our retail partners to try to do some tests and pilots that are ‘shopper first’ or ‘shopper forward,’ and they work really well.”
The more focus a retailer places on the shopper, the more attractive they become to brands seeking to invest their marketing dollars, said Baird.
“One thing we can always bet very safely on is that manufacturers’ money will go where it grows,” he said. “I think that’ll be true 50 years from now, and the percentage of dollars ‘wasted’ by advertisers over that next 50 years is going to continue to shrink and shrink and shrink.
“The real ‘bright spots’ in the industry,” said Baird, “are those instances where retailers and brands are sitting down together and building really intentional plans that scream about value at the right times of the year, to the right shoppers — and they’re doing so in a very connected way between the in-store, onsite and offsite experience.
Retailer-brand collaboration will be essential to delivering a positive customer experience across channels in the future, and sales success will follow. Brands will invest in those retailers that can deliver a customer-centric experience that provides convenience, value and personalization.
Through solutions such as those provided by Inmar, retailers and their brand partners are both benefiting from the ability to collaborate in discreet, controlled environments. These solutions are enabling more productive use of data, streamlining promotional processes, and providing better consumer experiences through content and messaging.