If holiday 2012 was any sign of the aggressively evolving retail landscape, we can expect 2013 to hold the same promise. Industry experts recently gathered at the National Retail Federation’s Annual Retail Big Show in New York to discuss just this. The four day conference featured +27,600 attendees from across the globe, each bringing a fresh perspective on their industry’s outlook.

Today we’ll take a look at the top emerging themes from the NRF Conference for 2013. Below each, you’ll also see some the ways Google is getting involved to assist you in driving these initiatives in the months to come.

1. Omnichannel: This is certainly the buzzword of 2013! Many research groups (Foresee, Deloitte, and others) featured recent studies focused specifically on the changing behavior of shoppers across channels. Others discussed the importance of a seamless customer experience between online, mobile and in-store channels.

  • Because of this trend, Google recently upgraded its AdWords advertising platform, by rolling out enhanced campaigns. Enhanced campaigns help you reach people with the right ads, based on their context like location, time of day and device type, across all devices without having to set up and manage several separate campaigns

2. The Multiscreen Experience: Not only are mobile devices becoming mainstream, but their usage among retail shoppers continues to grow as well. With this being said, mobile has become a vital piece of retailers’ ecommerce marketing strategies. However, not only was mobile highly touted as a marketing channel, the use of mobile technology in business operations (payments, inventory, shipping) was also emphasized- ultimately the use for employees to become more connected and more efficient.
Google offers a number of mobile tools to assist you with optimizing your own website across devices. This also includes providing you access to a wealth of mobile ad platforms across search, video and apps. Check out www.howtogomo.com for more info!

3. Globalization of Retail: International attendees were a major focus this year, with translators in each breakout session and entire sessions focused on international and globalized retail strategies. The upcoming World Cup and Summer Olympics in Brazil are driving a boom in retail infrastructure in South America. Tesco CIO Mike McNamara spoke at length on how they leveraged consumer technologies to grow Tesco into a global brand without losing grasp on their supply chain.

  • Google’s custom settings provide you the opportunity to geo-target your ads to specific global regions, as well as alter the language of the ad text
  • The Google Trends tool is an excellent resource to leverage. It allows you to visually see how specific queries geographically trend
  • Google also has a platform of business tools to foster team collaboration and internal efficiencies. Read about the Google Enterprise Platform at www.google.com/enterprise

4. Engaging with the Always-Connected Consumer: Consumers are more connected than ever before. Many NRF sessions focused on the need and ability to engage with your audience beyond the sale. Coca-Cola's Keynote presentation discussed the importance for brands to create experiences for consumers instead of just transactions. The brands that can do this will thrive in the future. Also emphasized was the use of video and social media platforms in doing so. Personalization has also become a top action item for retailers given the ability to significantly influence shoppers across every touchpoint - online, email, in-store, and mobile.

  • Make it easy for consumers to identify your brand across devices and channels - whether that be online or offline. Your messaging and graphics should be unified within each, allowing the consumer to gain immediate brand recognition no matter where they find your brand
  • Customers want to feel valued and appreciated. Show them that you know and understand their interests and needs by leveraging Static and Dynamic Remarketing Ad formats

5. Product, product, product. Many NRF speakers discussed the importance of differentiating oneself among a growing competitive set, as well as the ever-changing consumer shopping habits. As opposed to the old adage of “location, location, location,” retailers must focus now on product. With mobile and the web, your customer may never make it to the store. ShopRunner's Chief Strategy Officer, Fiona Diaz highlighted this quoting,“The reason you stand out among a sea of competitors is product. In Amazon’s case, their vast product assortment dwarfs what other retailers offer. In the case of Nordstrom, it’s quality over quantity with beautiful, curated product. Whichever you choose, companies need to develop a differentiated product strategy, otherwise, you will struggle.”

  • Google’s Product Listing Ads provide a visual search ad format that allows you to include a product image, company name, title, price and promotional message
  • Shoppers are always looking for promotional deals and values. Google continues to innovate in this area - recently releasing Google Zavers. Zavers assists companies in offer the right coupons to the right shoppers, expand rewards programs, and track redemption in real-time

Although we’re certain the retail ecosystem will continue to evolve and change in 2013, we hope that the five themes listed above will help you get a successful start this year!

Posted by Terra Hess, The Google Retail Team