Vice President, Business Development

21st Century Retail Insights from Digiday’s August Event

We're living in a new age with fast-moving consumer trends. In 2020 especially, retailers have been expected to adapt to the heavily-digital world while simultaneously telling a strong brand story. The actions of retailers are under a microscope as buyers are paying closer attention now more than ever before with a rising number of consumers purchasing based on what the brand stands for (i.e., its social mission).

An overwhelming 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize, remember, and provide relevance to their customers. The good news is that DTC e-commerce has a steep competitive edge: data collection, which can be leveraged into creating the highly personalized user experiences consumers demand.

This quote was shared during the introductory session of Digiday’s Modern Retail Event on August 10-11. It was an important moment of optimism for an industry that’s dealt with massive turbulence in the last six months.

For those that didn’t attend the virtual event, there were 4 big themes:

  • Now is not the time to sit and wait
  • Leverage the current landscape to inspire new ideas to serve your guests both live and digital
  • Now more than ever, know your audience and be authentic
  • Be prepared for change; normal doesn’t exist anymore


These themes were exemplified in dozens of sessions from digital marketing leaders. To learn what you missed, read on for Rise’s biggest takeaways.

Changes in Perception of Brick and Mortar

Before the pandemic, we started to see a significant upward trend in brick and mortar for brands, especially direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands such as Warby Parker and Everlane. In a quick pivot, brands have had to refocus resources on creating a high-converting digital presence.

Inspired by their audiences, marketers have been looking ahead at the next wave of customer engagement, and we’re seeing:

  • More strategic investments in pop-up experiences versus permanent brick and mortar spaces
  • DTC “malls” being established through Facebook’s latest shopping features
  • Digital out-of-home (OOH) placements becoming more competitive
  • In-store safety regulations leading to contactless, expedited payment systems
  • Delivery app trends going beyond the food & beverage industry


Moving Toward Mobile-First eCommerce

Every year we have seen a huge share of traffic moving to mobile—up to 10% growth YoY. By 2021, mobile is forecasted to take over the greatest share of engagement and commerce.

David Cost, VP of Ecommerce & Digital Marketing at Rainbow Shops presented that Short Message Service (SMS) advertising, commonly thought of as brand texting, is taking off. Driving customer engagement and revenue through SMS, Rainbow Shops found that revenue performance is 10x higher with 30% higher click-thru rates via SMS than via email. The channel operates in three major ways:

  • In-store promotions
  • Online promotions
  • Transactional messaging (shopping cart abandoners, package is on its way, etc)


For brands needing to scale their digital strategy and test new channels, SMS advertising is a worthwhile consideration for incentivized engagement (e.g., discount upon sign-up). The major benefits mentioned in the event’s session are fast activation, large-scale communications, and always-on availability.

However, before jumping into this new channel, we recommend looking closely at your measurement options. Is your team positioned to accurately measure SMS KPIs affecting your brand’s bottom line? If this is a reach play, how will you drive sign-ups with increased privacy regulations? If this is a revenue play (it always is!), what technology do you have available to track ROI from SMS customers? Reach out to Rise for a data-driven agency partner that can help you test new channels with growth in mind.

eCommerce’s Role in Your Larger Revenue Strategy

The event illuminated a variety of eCommerce blind spots shaping the future of our industry.

For example, Amazon’s share of total eCommerce sales is growing steeply, now capturing 44% of the market. Not only is this remarkably greater than its marketplace competitors like Walmart (7% of eCommerce sales), Amazon is an 800-pound gorilla compared to brand-owned websites.

Now more than ever, brand growth relies on a dynamic and innovative strategy created to drive revenue while growing and defending market share. The race to engage new shoppers, while delivering exceptional service to returning customers, is on. This is especially true for Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) brands wherein many are moving into a multi-channel DTC ecosystem, including Amazon.

Affiliate marketing was also heavily discussed during the event as a strong channel for building and sustaining customer loyalty. For consumer services and eCommerce brands alike, affiliate is an exceptional opportunity to pay only for the performance that meets your brand’s KPIs.

Agility Wins the Race

“How can we help?” Surely your marketing team has taken this angle in recent communications to customers, and you’re not alone in that approach.

Many brands shared in the event sessions how agility has paid off lately. Brands whose original marketing strategies focused on mass reach and experiential tactics are now turning to always-on digital media channels and brand ambassadors. In the last 6 months alone, one event speaker reported a 70% lift in social engagement.

The acceleration to digital has had other advantages this year for brands willing to act bravely and quickly. Reformed return policies, paid social boycotts, and social justice movements have shined a spotlight on what brands stand for, and 58% of consumers have said they’re more likely to engage with brands based on this information. Moreover, increased competition in influencer marketing means securing a high-value partnership could hinge on their interest in for-good campaigns.

As marketers, our storytelling is two-fold: we’re communicating the value of our products while driving the brand’s position in today’s society. With consumers making more intentional purchases toward brands that align with their perspectives, it becomes essential for marketers to tell a well-rounded story.


If you’re a forward-thinking eCommerce brand seeking explosive growth, let’s talk. Rise is uniquely positioned to solve your digital marketing with cross-channel, closed-loop technology paired with the brightest minds in the industry.

08/18/2020 at 01:50