The retail industry has faced some of the biggest hardships in the 21st century as digitalization has taken over both the consumer buying journey and the advertising realm. In order to stay relevant to consumers and compete against giants such as Amazon, retail advertisers need to know how to take advantage of digitalization and make it work for their brand. Some long-standing staples of the advertising industry remain popular and viable with retail advertisers. At the top of that list, you will find search advertising. Roughly 90% of retail advertisers already direct marketing spend to search advertising and 86% plan to increase that amount in 2020. Search advertising is great, but to succeed in retail advertising means staying ahead of the trends.

Why Retail Advertising Trends Matter

Understanding the trends shaping retail advertising isn’t just a matter of spending the ad budget effectively. By keeping up with trends, retailers can understand how consumers are searching, comparing, and buying online. These trends showcase the customer journey, how it weaves through online and offline verticals, and, perhaps most importantly, these trends show the complexity of retail advertising. By understanding these trends, retail advertisers can effectively promote the brand, capture a target audience, and drive sales both in-store and online in order to maximize their advertising revenue.

We examine key retail advertising trends that are set to shape the industry in 2020 and beyond.

1. Introduction of Programmatic Advertising

Automation, also known as programmatic advertising, is expected to be a leading trend in retail advertising in the years to come. Programmatic advertising has reached unprecedented adoption rates in recent years with the vast majority of digital ad dollars transacted using programmatic technology with eMarketer estimating that approximately 88% of US digital display advertising will be purchased programmatically by 2021.

Consumer data is critical to automation as it allows retail advertising to adjust to changing consumer trends and demands without falling behind. Rather than guessing and hoping to stay ahead of consumers, retail advertisers can lean on accurate data from consumer purchases and interactions with the brand to adjust ad campaigns intelligently so the advertising budget is managed effectively without sacrificing on the quality of the outreach to consumers.

2. The Rise of eCommerce Platforms

Amazon changed the way that e-commerce is conducted and revolutionized retail, giving rise to the situation that many retail advertisers find themselves today. But the general trend of eCommerce has already changed with social shopping, a current trend that is growing fast. Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are just a few examples of the sites pushing the envelope on social shopping. Instagram has a particularly interesting feature called “Checkout.” Users can scroll through Instagram feeds and, without ever leaving the app, purchase looks, styles, and products that catch the eye.

3. The Adoption of Visual Search

Nowadays, consumers don’t necessarily need to know a brand name or the name of a style with tools such as Pinterest available at the click of a button. Thanks to Pinterest, social shopping takes on a whole new format with consumers being able to identify trends and purchase immediately.

Recent developments have seen another  AI-powered retail trends which allows shoppers to both find and buy a product simply snapping a photo of the item. A number of eCommerce sites, such as Google, can avail of this new visual search tool but Pinterest takes this a step further. Consumers can scroll through photos on the site from anyone and when they find something they like, they “shop the look” and instantly connect with retailers that carry the items that help them build that look for themselves.

This adoption of visual search is a trend that is due to take off in the next few years and is a space that should be watched by retailers as it has the potential to provide multiple advertising opportunities for retail to multiply their revenue streams.

4. A Surge in Omnichannel Experiences

Although digitalization is moving at breakneck speed, this does not mean everything occurs in the digital realm. Customers may be drawn into a brand by the mailer, do their own research through comparison sites, visit a retail landing page, download that retailers app to get shopping ideas and conclude a purchase by visiting a brick-and-mortar store. Due to an increase in consumers using an omnichannel approach to shopping, retailers need to respond in kind with a unified omnichannel experience. Consumers aren’t thinking about their searching and shopping in terms of channels, they are simply just researching. In order to respond properly, retail advertisers need to focus on providing consumers with experience and interaction that is the same at every step of the customer journey. Whether it is a mailer that lands in their mailbox, an ad they view on social media or the content they read on a landing page it is important that the retailers offer a consistent buying experience across multiple channels both online and offline.

The combination of online & offline advertising provides retailers with multiple advertising opportunities while boosting sales both online and in-store. By understanding the importance of an omnichannel experience for consumers, retailers can ensure accurate and targeted advertisements in order to gain a competitive advantage while also maximizing their advertising revenue.

5. Voice Activated Search Advertising Continues to Soar

For search advertisers, one of the toughest verticals to adapt to has been voice search. The way in which consumers conduct voice searches and the manner in which those are sorted and presented is vastly different than traditional text searches. Consumers speak in conversational tones, ask questions the majority of the time while only looking for short and concise answers.

Therefore, retail advertisements have to be up to the challenge to establish and create content that delivers in all of those areas. This trend is definitely one that is important for retailers to get on board with too as according to Google 20% of all searches are now conducted via voice searches and with this rise in voice-activated search advertising, more than 55% of households will own a smart speaker device by 2022.

6. Email Personalization For Increased Loyalty

Personalization is the best way to ensure that consumers don’t feel like just another email address on a million-person mailing list. In 2020, although retail advertisers are going to have to go beyond the proven email personalization tactics such as a first-name greeting at the top and a banner with recent purchases. With so much data being captured on consumers including demographic information, location, previous purchase history, this can be hugely valuable and advantageous for advertisers. For example, consumer data can be used to personalize emails for special occasions such as a customer’s anniversary in a loyalty program or their birthday to offer them special deals no one else is receiving on items that they frequently purchase, at that moment as a result of reaching those landmarks.

By utilizing this valuable data, personalization throughout emails is an extremely important tool for advertisers as it can be used in order to resonate with a brand with a customer via email. If implemented correctly it can provide retailers with a competitive advantage with regards to brand loyalty.

7. New Technology Enable Streamlined Transactions

With the rise of click and collect, easy returns, mobile order-ahead, and cashier-less checkouts it is time that retailers adjust accordingly. Retailers such as Amazon have made quick decisions and faster checkouts a reality that consumers enjoy. For example, on Amazon, a user can initiate an instant purchase in their account with one-touch purchasing. They can also complete the checkout of an entire basket with a single swipe. In order to streamline transactions for retailers it is not long before the majority of retailers have adopted features such as the cashier-less checkouts in-store, easy returns by scanning mobile QR codes, and even the option to order ahead on mobile, skip the line and pick up an order if they have not already done so.

Without digital advertising, the rise in streamlined transactions could not be facilitated as advertising is crucial in order to drive these functions. This trend is definitely one not to be missed by retailers who are looking to succeed in this ever-evolving industry.

Retail Advertising Continues to Evolve

The trends highlighted above have already started to impact retail advertising and are already changing the journey for consumers. In 2019, Retail advertisers were expected to spend $28.33 billion on digital ads with that number continuing to grow at a rapid pace. If you want to make sure that your ad spend is being used effectively, growing brand awareness, and boosting your in-store visits and online sales, it’s time to take a close look at these retail advertising trends to take full advantage of the benefits and supplement their current revenue with advertising revenue income. By understanding the impact of these trends on advertising, retail companies can benefit and increase advertising revenue via embraced ad sales management.