A mix of digital and physical: How retailers can remain relevant in the digital age

Growth in retail media creates opportunities to invest in customized shopping experiences

par Carol Mason , AdForum (NYC)

Havas Media Network UK
London, Royaume-Uni
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Pedro Ramos
Head of eCommerce Havas Media Group

The digital transformation in consumer purchasing habits has shifted the landscape for brand strategy and media planning. Giving insight on how retailers can invest in the growth of retail media, Pedro Ramos of Havas Media speaks on adapting an integrated strategy to improve the customer journey.


In your opinion, what has been the catalyst for this explosive growth of retail media?

Several major reasons have contributed to the UK retail media's tremendous expansion. The digital transformation in consumer purchasing habits has been a key factor. As more people shop online, merchants have realized the importance of using their digital platforms as advertising places. This transition is facilitated by advances in data analytics and technology, which allow retailers to provide tailored advertising based on consumer data and purchasing habits collected both online and offline, with the majority of it fed by loyalty schemes that merchants have instituted. This expansion enables more personalized and effective advertising techniques, giving businesses direct access to consumers at the point of purchase, where buying intent is highest, making it an increasingly appealing channel for advertisers.


Retailers are becoming media owners. How will this impact brand strategy and media planning?

As retailers become media owners, the landscape for brand strategy and media planning is shifting. Brands must increasingly consider retail media networks as an important component of their advertising strategy. This shift means that brands cannot rely solely on traditional media channels or performance channels, but must also invest in retail media to ensure visibility at vital touchpoints in the consumer purchase journey, thereby closing the loop and being present at every single touchpoint with consumers. It needs a more integrated strategy, merging data from retail platforms with traditional and digital media insights to produce consistent and personalized consumer experiences. For media planning, it emphasizes the necessity of leveraging retailer-specific data to optimize ad placements and generate appropriate audiences to target. By taking this approach, businesses can better target and reduce budget wastage throughout their media efforts.


What opportunities do AI and CX data offer brands in the customer journey?  

AI and CX data provide an unparalleled opportunity for brands to improve the customer journey. AI technologies enable the analysis of massive volumes of data to identify trends, preferences, and behaviors, resulting in highly personalized marketing campaigns. This can result in better consumer engagement, higher conversion rates, and improved loyalty. For example, AI can optimize product recommendations and personalize advertising content in real time, ensuring that consumers see the most relevant and appealing products. However, this is not limited to consumers; brands are seeing efficiencies through the use of AI, product information management, and targeting, among other areas where we have witnessed efficiency improvements through our work with customers at Havas. Meanwhile, CX data provides insights into consumer satisfaction, pain points, and desires, allowing businesses to build experiences that match or surpass their customers' expectations. AI and CX data may help businesses design more complex and effective customer journeys, from discovery to purchase and beyond.


What kind of retail experiences do GenZ and GenA value?

Gen Z and Gen A want authentic, engaging, and socially responsible retail experiences. They prefer to purchase with businesses that share their personal values, such as sustainability and ethical business practices, and retailers are following suit, with 73% reporting to have invested in these areas in 2023. Try-ons and immersive pop-up events are especially popular because they combine digital simplicity with physical interaction. These generations also look for businesses that promote a feeling of community and connection, whether through social media or in-store activities. Personalization, not just in product offerings, but in the shopping experience itself, is critical to capturing their interest and loyalty; in 2023, 71% of consumers expect customized interactions from merchants.


How can brick and mortar locations evolve so that they remain relevant in a digital world? 

To remain relevant in the digital age, brick-and-mortar stores must modernize by improving the consumer experience and incorporating digital technologies. This progression can take different shapes, including deploying in-store technology that combine online and physical purchasing experiences. For example, interactive displays, virtual try-on stations, and mobile checkout alternatives can improve convenience and engagement. Stores can also function as fulfilment sites for online orders, providing click-and-collect services or same-day delivery choices; retailers in the UK are already doing this, with 80% offering Buy Online, Pick in Store solutions.

Creating experiential retail spaces that hold events, workshops, or other community-building activities may elevate stores above simply shopping destinations, as GymShark demonstrated with its Regent Street location that opened last year. Furthermore, leveraging data to offer personalized in-store experiences, from tailored product recommendations to individualized customer service, can significantly elevate the brick-and-mortar value proposition in the digital era, with most retailers sitting in data from their customers via loyalty cards. This is an opportunity not to be missed.