Davids vs. Goliath: Five Ways Retail Marketers Can Stay Relevant in the Age of Amazon

To many retailers today, Amazon.com seems unstoppable. The website that ate retail has overtaken a fellow titan, Wal-Mart, as the second-largest seller of consumer electronics, and it has category No. Here are five ways midmarket retail can stay nimble in the face of the Amazon giant: 1. Clean up customer data Data is the lifeblood of retail, and it's more plentiful and valuable now than it has ever been. Identify missed opportunities Recently, home-improvement retailer Lowe's recognized it was losing billions of dollars per year because consumers were feeling so overwhelmed by planning their home remodels that they gave up altogether, without ever making a purchase. Embrace beacons Beacons will drive $44 billion in sales this year, up $4 billion from last year, according to predictions. By partnering with like-minded brands and organizations, retailers can gain valuable exposure to new audiences for significantly less than it would take to acquire those audiences independently. In addition, partnerships allow brands to capitalize on the trust their partner has already built with customers. * * * Amazon might continue to dominate the retail scene in the years to come, but that doesn't mean the midmarket won't have an opportunity to thrive alongside the mighty giant. By harnessing and applying the powers of technology, creativity, and innovation, retailers large and small can carve out opportunities with the digital natives of tomorrow and continue to give goliath a run for his money—for years to come.

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To many retailers today, Amazon.com seems unstoppable. The website that ate retail has overtaken a fellow titan, Wal-Mart, as the second-largest seller of consumer electronics, and it has category No. 1 Best Buy in its sights.

As retail witnesses the shuttering of former retail heavyweights, including Sports Authority and Sports Chalet, and the slimming of long-term players, including Macy’s, Walgreens, and the Gap, smaller retailers are often left wondering whether there is, in fact, a path to success when you don’t have millions to spend on marketing.

Here’s the key: An underdog doesn’t win by beating a giant at its own game, but by outwitting, outmaneuvering, and out-strategizing it.

Offering hope to retail are the stories of nimble retailers, including Ulta, TJ Maxx, and H&M, which are continuing to grow and open new stores year after year. Those successes prove that although midmarket retailers might not be able to compete with Amazon on price or inventory, they can compete—and win—by harnessing the power of their data and getting creative.

Here are five ways midmarket retail can stay nimble in the face of the Amazon giant:

1. Clean up customer data

Data is the lifeblood of retail, and it’s more plentiful and valuable now than it has ever been. But retailers often have multiple siloed databases hindering their ability to create, then benefit from, a complete picture of their audience.

With a staggering 88% of companies reporting that bad data has affected their bottom line—to the tune of roughly 12% of their revenue—the importance of clean data should not be underestimated.

For retailers with multiple types of purchase paths, ignoring data siloed in e-commerce, catalog, and brick and mortar databases is like dragging around a 50-pound weight when trying to outmaneuver the giant. For direct-mail retailers, if even 10% of your database has inaccurate contact information, that means that 10% of your direct mail campaigns have zero chance of being effective.

When looking at data from this perspective, the value and ROI of keeping it clean become apparent pretty quickly. Your data needs to be consolidated, accurate, and frequently updated if you are going to be able to move and personalize marketing efforts at customer speed.

2. Identify missed opportunities

Recently, home-improvement retailer Lowe’s recognized it was losing billions of dollars per year because consumers were feeling so overwhelmed by planning their home remodels that…

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