Avoid Becoming a “Zombie” Brand With These 3 Lessons


It’s not so much people but the retail stores in malls that are likely to become zombies, so says The Wall Street Journal writer Christopher Mims. In this context, “zombies” are the stores that continue to have a lot of overhead, fixed costs, and short-term goals.

It probably won’t shock you to hear that traditional retailers are struggling to keep up with consumers’ preferences for online shopping. Consider last year’s Black Friday – according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), more than 108 million people shopped online over the weekend, 5 million more than the previous year. Meanwhile, 99 million people said they shopped in stores, down 3 million from the previous year. These figures aren’t mutually exclusive. (Read more about our viewpoint on Black Friday on our blog)

Regardless of where they are shopping, today’s customers demand convenience, value, and personalization wherever they interact with a brand—on or offline. Top brands like Google and Amazon are aware of this and deliver relevant experiences to their customers across all touch points. That said, it is clear that a more efficient hybrid online and offline model is the retail format of the future, which is why Amazon and e-commerce retailers are beginning to open brick-and-mortar stores.

So who will conquer the hybrid retail model faster – e-commerce or traditional retailers? That’s a question we ask often at ActionIQ. In this post, we’ll share best practices that we developed working with leading retail brands to transform their business. Act on these 3 lessons to avoid becoming a zombie, and compete in the new digital economy:

Lesson 1: Data is king

Move over content, data is the new sheriff in town—it is one of your most valuable assets. Yet most companies leverage less than 1% of their data, which is a huge waste. Data has been a vital part of Amazon’s strategy, and brick-and-mortar retailers should follow suit.  

Lesson 2: Personalization + automation = profits

Personalization at scale is extremely difficult to execute, but it is critical to your store’s sustainable growth. Data by itself isn’t valuable. It’s being able to use that data for predictive models and personalized customer experiences that creates value. Then you need to scale that personalization to across all your customers and touch points. This is where automation is key. As a businesses, you quickly reach a point where you can no longer throw bodies at the problem – you need better tools.

Lesson 3: Legacy technology won’t cut it

Ecommerce retailers have the advantage of working off a blank slate. Most were built on new systems and are more nimble with less fixed costs. On the other hand, traditional retailers have the advantage of more channels and customer touch points. But that comes with the baggage of legacy technology, which duplicates and silos their data. The growing number of data sources, complexity of data silos, and volume of data is overwhelming. It’s also a barrier to the growth of your retail business.

ActionIQ was built on the principles of the lessons above. These are challenges that all B2C brands face today. We are passionate about data and what it can do for brands. It’s hardwired into our platform, it’s in our team’s DNA and it’s our promise to customers.

Read the full article on WSJ.com.

George Phipps
George Phipps
Director of Product Marketing
George is dedicated to educating enterprise businesses about the impact on customer experience and organizational performance enabled by centralizing customer data. He works closely with creative and prolific engineers, UX designers, marketers to help design and enhance technologies that improve access to customers' data.
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