Apr 20 2021
Ben Larrison

3 Ways Retail Brands Can Optimize their Digital Footprint


To say that retail has changed in the past year would be…well, a grave understatement. Since the COVID-19 pandemic upended commerce as we knew it, retailers have had to pivot hard toward digital. Retail marketers, in turn, have had to double down on their digital marketing efforts, investing their time, money and creativity into taking full advantage of these channels.

Here are three things retail challenger brands should know if they want to make the most of their digital marketing efforts:

1) Social Commerce is Booming

For most of us, social sits at the center of our online experience. It’s perhaps unsurprising, then, that we're seeing more and more shopping (and sales) taking place right within our social apps.

Social commerce has exploded since the start of the pandemic, and analysts say it will surpass $50 billion annually by 2023—an astonishing 100% growth from where those numbers were in 2020. All the major social apps now have some level of shopping enablement, and users can move from the discovery phase to the purchase phase the blink of an eye—especially for lower cost or aspirational items. The overall impact of this trend on a given retailer will, of course, depend on its target audience, but all retail brands should be looking to take advantage of these opportunities.

2) Learn from the Competition

As challenger brands have innovated in the digital space, established retail brands have taken notice and begun to borrow some of their tricks. Nike, for instance, has refocused much of its energy on direct-to-consumer efforts, which now make up nearly a third of their sales. This is a huge uptick that has tremendous value both in terms of profitability and first party data, not to mention customer loyalty.

Challenger brands, in turn, should take note of what they can learn from the success of those larger companies when it comes to driving consumer behavior. One way to do this, notes Centro’s Page Kelley (Group VP of Client & Media Services, South), is introducing a subscribe and save-type model into your direct-to-consumer experience, which can be a great way to get “stickiness” with your customers. As category lines continue to blur and digital continues to level the playing field, the differences between challenger brands and established retailers will grow increasingly muddled as they borrow pages from each other's books.

3) Think Multi-Channel

When challenger brands are planning out their campaigns and media strategies, it’s important they stay agile and create multiple touch points—across multiple channels—along the customer journey. Modern consumers don’t tend to operate in just one space, so brands need to meet their consumers wherever they are and then make the ensuing buying process as easy as possible, removing as much friction as possible between the first discovery/impression and the actual add to cart. Taking such a holistic view of the customer journey can help challenger brands create a better customer experience and, ultimately, increase conversion rates.

Want more insights on what challenger retail brands can do to up their digital game? Check out our Centro Institute webinar: Vertical Viewpoint: Conquering Challenges as a Retail Brand.