Look beyond algorithms and learn from publishers’ mistakes, retailers told

Retailers risk repeating the mistakes of the media industry if they rely on algorithms and allow companies like Amazon to dominate their markets, Clean Thinking founder James Greet has told a conference in Sydney.

Rather than relying on algorithms and programmatic offerings, which allow the tech giants to dominate industries, Greet and co-founder James Skykes described how retailers need look beyond seeing customers from a transactional view and start build relationships with them.

Retailers need to differentiate experiences and get to closely know their customers said Clean Thinkging’s James Greet

Speaking at the Mumbrella Retail Marketing Summit alongside Sykes, Greet described how the successful media companies focused on customer experience rather than following their competitors who allowed the technology giants to dominate and commoditise their markets.

“If you go back a few years, publishers put their faith in Facebook and Google algorithms,” Greet said. “And look what happened.

“Suddenly the whole business of publishing, news telling and stories became highly commoditised, and only the really strong brands survived. It took a heap of money out of the market.

“There’s probably a danger that with the massive growth of new retail brands, without time to really build differentiated experiences, you start to rely on Amazon to do that for you. And you know how that turned out.

Greet suggested the brands that did survive the digital onslaught were those who had created a strong consumer message, saying: “Every media and entertainment brand is built upon a really strong core idea. they are really clear on what their story or brand is.

“Secondly, they understand their customers better than anyone else. They genuinely listen to what they are saying and watch how they are behaving to be able to slowly, but confidently, evolve that story.”

Despite saying retailers should tread carefully with technology, Greet said the successful media and entertainment brands also provided lessons in using data wisely: “That’s because they lean into data in a interesting way, they want to learn how people are using something.

“They want to learn what’s working and what isn’t and ensure they get more people staying, watching, listening and sharing for longer.

“When a great content idea is created these days, it’s not just conceived to live on video, or in a publishing format or as an experience. It’s conceived to understand how that idea can be richer than any single channel and how those channels can complement the experience.

“They are genuinely focused on customer engagement, not just on journey or conversion but what is real customer engagement, because when you have people spending time with you, you don’t have to bore them and irritating them by constantly interrupting.

“If you do that, you keep on getting people coming back for more. You don’t have to keep on reminding them and they become advocates for you.

“Think of your favourite content or media brands, that’s the relationship you have with them.”

Greet’s business partner Sykes reflected that retailers are still in a good position compared to media companies, saying: “Retail is as profitable as ever. It’s badly practised retail that’s suffering.”


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