OPINION: Crunch time for the retail industry

Lee Hawksley
By Lee Hawksley | 6 February 2014
Lee Hawksley

Marketing is all about the seamless customer journey. This was the key take-out from the recent ABS quarterly retail figures, which for the first time included online sales data. Significantly, the ABS found that retailers who combine an online store with a physical store are not only growing faster than offline-only retailers, but crucially, are outperforming pure-play only competitors.

For retailers, this proves that success is no longer about on- or offline sales, but about delivering a 1:1 customer experience. Instead of viewing their strategy as a series of siloed campaigns, retailers recognise activity as a set of related interactions, that when integrated together across channels and time, make up a personalised customer experience.

Omni-channel marketing needs to extend to a brand’s overall marketing plan and organisational structure, not just the technology they use. Customers should be taken on a journey across all the channels, which when combined delivers them with their own personalised journey.

The key link to providing a truly integrated omni-channel strategy is to provide personalised communications based on the individual customer. Australia’s most forward-thinking retailers are already taking this approach and providing their audience with a 360-degree customer journey.


Marketers lead business transformation because they are closest to the customer – they own the teams, data, tools and technologies to connect their company with their customer. Smart marketers are using data to drive communications that are relevant, personalised, timely and tailored based on each individual customer. The value isn’t just from the marketing message itself, it’s from the intelligence and optimisation with each interaction that builds a 1:1 relationship with each customer to increase brand loyalty and drives sales.


Nearly everything and everyone today is mobile, and companies are evolving to ensure their customer experience incorporates this new mobile reality. As consumers continue to use their smartphones as the dashboard for their lives, consider optimising the customer journey for mobile. The Salesforce ExactTarget 2014 State of Marketing report found that almost a third are carrying out location-based marketing as a way to combine the consumer’s online and offline experience – and in doing so are capitalising on an array of lucrative sales opportunities.

Predictive Analytics

Today, marketers are taking personalisation one step further to deliver 1:1 communications to customers based on real-time behaviour, interests, preferences and customer data. Marketers can now define customers by thousands of attributes with fully automated analysis of every click and interaction which helps them to understand how the customer wants to interact with the brand. These attributes can then be leveraged in predictive analytics, enabling marketers to leverage predictive product recommendations and content to create personalised experiences throughout the customer life cycle.

It’s crunch time for the retail industry. As more and more brands vie for their share of the shopper’s dollar, marketers need to ensure their brands are investing in the technology that excites consumers and will keep them coming back for more, whether that be online or offline.

Lee Hawksley
Managing Director
Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, Australia

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