VP, Digital Strategy

CommerceNext 2023: Takeaways & Insider Tips

Our team at Rise, A Quad Company recently attended CommerceNext with over 1,700 executives to discuss the hottest topics and growth opportunities in the retail and DTC industry. After two days of conversations, meetings, and a Rise presentation, we are sharing our top takeaways and insider tips from one of our biggest events of the year.

The AI Elephant in the Room

To some, AI is a dirty word. To others, it is a welcome new tool. For everyone at CommerceNext, it was the elephant in the room,  indirectly or directly part of almost every session and conversation. While AI is not a magical solution for everything, it is very helpful if tested and leveraged in the right situation. With effective prompts and usage, AI can improve efficiency, speed, and experience. Why not use AI for mundane tasks to help free human minds for more strategic work? 

Here are ways some of the event attendees are already making the most of AI

  • Kate Spade: Used Persado’s generative AI to test email subject lines that balance copy with emotion. Their ongoing testing provided smarter insights into best connecting with customers via email. 
  • Snipes: Sped up the creation of product descriptions for time-sensitive activations and competitive promotions.
  • J. Crew: Used Lily AI to optimize product searches and filters on their website. The additional details attributed to each product better-emulated customer intent when navigating their site.
  • Abercrombie & Fitch: Brainstormed product design ideas by feeding historical images into AI for new inspiration.

Heard at CommerceNext:

GenZ panelists use ChatGPT to follow the latest trends. Who is to say how much more insight it will give when the data is refreshed and no longer 2 years old?

Josh Tan, Rise’s Sr. Director of Media Strategy, briefed attendees on AI’s current reality during his presentation at CommerceNext. AI is here, and Risers aren’t denying it or scared of it. However, he noted that it is relatively in its infancy when it comes to digital marketing, and there is a lot we can still do in the meantime.

Audience-First, Backed by Data

Rise is audience-first, backed by data. Our proven marketing strategies are centered on the customer and their needs. We know that in the cookieless, privacy-protected world of digital marketing, brands that use consumer data to guide strategic decisions, will be the ones continuing to succeed. Data helps marketers justify brand roadmaps, advertising approaches, and budget decisions. 

For e-commerce and retail companies specifically, starting with your audience allows you to lean into the power of digital and amplify sales, especially inside and outside of the store environment. Below were three main themes of the audience focus that is fueled by data:

  1. Meeting Customers Where They Are. Successful e-commerce marketers create a frictionless shopping experience, focusing their advertising when, where, and how their audience wants to shop. So how do you figure out how to build a seamless shopping experience in your consumers’ existing pathways? Data.
  2. Listening to Marketplace Voices and New Perspectives. Susie Kuhn, former head of Footlocker EMEA, shared the importance to stop and truly assess the marketplace and specific consumers' needs, instead of defaulting to what you think you know. In her case, the European and Asian consumers had very different needs and buying behaviors than everything she had known previously. She needed to really study the marketplace and listen to the perspectives of those more familiar with the consumer. This mindset of using the data and customer insights, along with hiring diverse perspectives who are your consumer or understand their changing priorities and buying behaviors, was something that echoed throughout the conference. 
  3. Focusing on First-Party Data and Perfecting the hHook. There is an understood need for retail and e-commerce brands to build and strengthen their first-party audiences with the right lead gen value add - mobile apps, loyalty programs, free shipping, etc. - but a limited amount of action taken to actually incorporate these tactics. This creates a large opportunity for those who are forward-thinking and committed to providing valuable ways to connect with consumers. 

Heard at CommerceNext:

Impactful brands are connecting consumer reciprocity with emotion. Saks Fifth Avenue provides access to a personal shopper and recommendations tied to relevant fashion and buying patterns. Adidas goes beyond the buying experience by placing QR codes on top of mountains for consumers to win experiences and exclusive products.

Creative Counts

When many marketers think of the power of digital advertising, they think about targeting and tracking. In order to best navigate all of those targeting tools and fluently speak your consumer’s language though, you need strategic creative, and you need it personalized by user and platform. 

Heard at CommerceNext:

According to Saks Fifth Avenue CMO, Emily Essner, extensive testing proved that creative is the single biggest predictor of advertising performance.

Here is a simple example of how important creative is to conversions. Most social platforms can build an audience of users who have viewed a video or animated asset. You can then retarget that audience of viewers with a static ad to pull them further down the funnel. In order to make that happen, you need a video. The reality of current digital marketing includes an invested creative team or tools to personalize assets across consumer touchpoints. Targeting and tactics are just one part of the paid media wheel, and they need creative to continue the momentum.  

Rise is here to continue the discussion. Contact us today for even more insights and solutions!

06/28/2023 at 11:04