TMW #020 | BFCM special! Retail transformation, social commerce, ethical selling, and the buy now pay later business.

Nov 27, 2020

Welcome to The Martech Weekly, where every week I review some of the most interesting ideas, research, and latest news. I try to look to where the industry is going and make sense of it all.

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Happy Black Friday and Happy Thanksgiving (to our US friends)!

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For now… let’s talk about Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

In what has been the most unexpected year for our industry, and especially retail, we’re entering into completely new territory where the majority of holiday shopping is going to happen online for the first time. I’ll be looking at three big stories - retail and digital transformation, the rise of ethical practices for Black Friday and how BNPL companies are coming up with unique ways to take up more market share this holiday season.

Let’s get into it, here’s everything you might have missed in marketing and tech this week 👇

👨 The Movember Thread

This is the final week of Movember! If you’ve been reading The Movember Thread and enjoying it I would love a small $5 donation. This week I look at word of mouth marketing, our obsession with new tech, when to diversify products, a case for marketers to study ethics, the rashomon effect and product vs marketing led companies. Link

👌Top #3

🛒 Retail’s forced digital transformation. Can you really say that retail’s forced focus on ecommerce is part of a  digital transformation? On one hand, yes. But on the other maybe not, given that almost every other retailer on the planet has been severely disrupted by the pandemic and the consumer shift into online shopping. What’s interesting this Black Friday is that retailers are now seeing that digital is a core aspect to the buying experience regardless of if a retail store is open or not. Customers research, compare, read reviews online before they set foot in a store and it’s accelerating even more with the tail end of the pandemic. Of course marketing technology vendors from email to web and mobile are key parts in the retail to ecommerce transition.

But there’s other factors at play. With increased digital sales, there’s also a focus on the ways in which customers can be retained and motivated to increase their value to a company over time. Something that retailers haven’t had to think about in purely digital terms. In Australia (my homeland), ecommerce market penetration has increased by an average of 15% in almost all categories, since the onset of the pandemic, which means more people know how to buy online, and are increasingly becoming more savvy with how they do it. My prediction is that Black Friday will be a flash point for retailers and a wake up call to the need to build best in class digital experiences, competitive market strategies and thoughtful ways to retain and reward the slew of existing customers who will be transacting and entering into databases like never before seen this holiday period. Link

❓ The ethical takeover of Black Friday.  In attempts to cut through the noise, some brands are bucking against the Black Friday trend to carve out their own market segments. Some interesting research indicates that in the UK and EU, 1 out of every 10 people highly value a brand’s ethical stance when it comes to purchasing decisions and general attitudes towards fast fashion and disposable consumer products are trending down. Even Shopify have committed to offsetting all carbon emissions caused by orders placed on the platform. And while this year may be a boon for the more ethically minded companies, others are doubling down on an anti-black Friday, Cyber Monday message with brands like Bearably selling a Black Friday blankets to help “consumers sleep on it before they make a purchase” railing against the fast sale, and urgency pressure tactics that many other brands employ during the season.

The interesting take away here is that Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be detrimental to smaller sellers because it reinforces a sale driven behaviour for consumers that make it hard to compete with larger players like Amazon. For this reason, smaller companies like Bearably are working to build their brand in the opposite direction, and it’s a smart move - when you stand against something, you’re more likely to drive interest than if you go with the flow. There’s an interesting trend between the diversification of marketplaces away from centralised monopolies (like Amazon) and groundswell in ethical brand positioning. It may just be that smaller brands are trying to listen to their consumers in ways that big tech aren't. Link

💳 BNPL and the battle of the checkout. I look at how the checkout page, the internet’s most valuable real estate and how Buy Now Pay Later companies are in a battle to own more of the payments market share by taking novel approaches to commerce. Sign up here to get a link to the full version.

📈Chart Of The Week

This week I look at the impacts of social commerce on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and why people are deciding to spend their hard earned cash in the social marketplace more than ever. Sign up here to get a link to the full version and the chart.

📚 Everything Else

AI Trustworthiness. An Australian report by KPMG on the trustworthiness and ethics landscape of AI. Right now in Australia, the trustworthiness of AI as perceived by companies and consumers is quite low.  Link

Experimenting on personalisation. Experiment nation, a blog which interviews optimization professionals around the world has started a podcast. First episode is about how Amazon experiments on top of ML and personalisation. They go deep into the tech. Link

Salesforce to acquire Slack.  Currently a rumor, but it makes a ton of sense. Sales and user acquisition growth has been declining over the past two years. Integrating with a product like Salesforce through an acquisition might just give Slack the architecture it needs to properly compete against Microsoft. Link

The words we use in marketing. This week I got a big reaction on LInkedIn when I insinuated that words like “omnichannel” are not ok. That’s because marketers are sick and tired of buzzwords. This NYT article breaks open some of the fantastical language marketers use. When you think about it, marketers are tasked to communicate things clearly to consumers, but we’re also stuck in our own echo chamber of confusing language. Link ($)

Personalised Oreos. This is part of a bigger trend of FMCG companies and their adoption and use of marketing tech. Oreos are now letting their customers to customise their own cookies, which is quite a strange experiment, but hey at least they are trying something right? Link

Normalisation of data for ML. A deep dive into the concepts of normalisation vs standardisation of data sets for ML models. A helpful breakdown of some tricky concepts when looking at data transformation practices.  Link

Stay Curious,

Make sense of marketing technology.

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Juan Mendoza

Juan Mendoza is an expert in researching global media, marketing, data, and technology trends. He is the CEO of The Martech Weekly, a media and research brand with subscribers in over 65 countries.

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