4 Ways Digital Retail Will Evolve in the Next Five Years

Last October, Custora hosted our first ever summit, bringing together over 100 retail marketing leaders from over 40 brands.

Billed as the best ever single-day customer analytics conference for retail marketers in NYC on a Wednesday, and given a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 9 out of 10 by our attendees, we think we far exceeded this lofty promise.

The most popular session of the day was a keynote given by Mariah Chase, CEO of fast-fashion brand Eloquii. Mariah shared her perspective on what digital retail will look like in the next five years — from dynamic pricing to content to conversational commerce and data that drives to “why.” We’re now sharing Mariah’s presentation via a webinar we hosted yesterday as part of our “Webinarch Madness” series.

Here are Mariah’s top predictions for digital retail in the next 5 years.

1. Dynamic Pricing

Retailers do a good job talking about brand, merchandise, and value, but often still think of price as a dirty word. Because customers can compare prices across sites in mere seconds, digital retail effectively erodes pricing power. “Are we in a race to the bottom?,” Mariah asks.

In other industries, like travel, pricing is widely variable based on supply and demand. “What if dynamic pricing existed in apparel and was driven on scarcity?” Mariah asks. At Eloquii, the team talks openly with their customers about FOSO, or “fear of selling out.” Limited runs to capitalize on scarcity may become increasingly common.

2. Content

The distribution of content by consumer brands has become more diffuse over the past few year, yet branded content is still in its nascence. Mariah predicts that brands will get into the content game in a far more pronounced way—creating content that would not be a branded advertorial piece, but content so good that advertising could be sold against it. Mariah envisions a seamless experience of buying what you want from the show while watching it— or “next generation bookmarking.” We’ve already seen great content being produced from Amazon.

3. Conversational commerce

Mariah is constantly asked about Eloquii’s mobile strategy. In the past few years, many retailers have been focused on developing mobile apps, but Mariah believes the future is not through branded mobile apps, but through existing chat-based apps. She envisions a world where customers interact with brands and make purchases via text messaging.

4. Data that drives to “why”

Good use of data should not just answer questions, but lead us to ask more questions. Mariah is excited about technologies that allow retailers to ask and answer questions like,

“What are our customers’ affinities? What risks do we see? What are our margin opportunities? What is each customer’s purchase cadence? What might each customer do in the future?”

Advances in predictive analytics and machine learning are allowing retailers to look through the proverbial crystal ball and glean insights about what their customers might do in the future, with these insights leading to further questions.

Eloquii looks at predictive customer lifetime value as an annuity stream. The team uses this predictive metric not only for revenue projections, but also to plan inventory — to validate their buyer model.

To learn more, watch Mariah's keynote presentation below.

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