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How digital is changing retail across EMEA – Marketing Week

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How digital is changing retail across EMEA – Marketing Week


Digital adoption is sweeping the globe. The uptake of mobile phones and increasing access to the internet have huge ramifications for businesses in all industries. Retailers can’t afford to ignore this new reality.

Shoppers around the world no longer simply go to the nearest store; they grab the nearest digital device – eMarketer projects that online retail sales will more than double between 2015 and 2019 and account for more than 12% of global sales by 2019.

For many consumers, mobile devices are a constant companion with powerful benefits. According to Nielsen research among global respondents:

  • 74% say they appreciate the freedom of being connected anywhere, anytime.
  • 70% agree that their mobile device has made their life better.
  • 66% think electronic interactions are replacing face-to-face ones.
  • 47% say they’d rather text than talk.

Mobile is transforming commerce

While m-commerce (retail sales conducted via a mobile device) is still a very small portion of total retail sales in many markets, including the US (2.4%), it will grow significantly in the next few years – 28% or more in India and 30% or more in China.

  • Worldwide, 38% of respondents say they have purchased a product or service on their mobile device in the past six months.
  • 34% say they’ve used a mobile app to make a purchase in the same period.
  • Asia-Pacific leads the way when it comes to mobile shopping, with use above the global average for every activity. Around half of respondents in China (50%), India (49%), South Korea (47%) and Vietnam (46%) say they’ve purchased a product or service using their mobile device in the past six months.
  • Mobile payments are highest in India (46%) and China (45%), where respondents are very likely to use them in bars, restaurants or retail stores.

Retailers must master the O2O Connection

The challenge for both emerging and established brands is mastering the online-to-offline (O2O) connection. This question has puzzled marketers since the advent of digital marketing. In EMEA, more consumers than ever are starting their journey online and ending up in a store. Some go back and forth between digital and physical, even using their phones to research while they’re shopping.

Consumers in EMEA are actively using online touchpoints while shopping to:

  • Look up product information (55% Africa and Middle East, 38% Western Europe, 51% Eastern Europe)
  • Check prices (54% Africa and Middle East, 35% Western Europe, 47% Eastern Europe)
  • Search for deals and promotions (38% Africa and Middle East, 24% Western Europe, 35% Eastern Europe)
  • Use social media to aid decisions (25% in Africa and Middle East, 14% in Western Europe, 21% in Eastern Europe)
  • Create online/mobile shopping lists (38% Africa and Middle East, 21% Western Europe, 31% Eastern Europe)

“Consumers expect a seamless experience, whether they’re shopping on their mobile phone or in your store,” says Wayne St Amand, CMO of Nielsen Visual IQ. “The challenge for EMEA marketers is staying one step ahead of consumers who are digitally savvy and increasingly online. Connecting online and offline via multi-touch attribution is critical.”

Consumers travel from online to offline and back again

When it comes to the online-offline gap, marketers are navigating an increasingly complex world. Major shifts in the EMEA landscape are compelling retailers to transform their businesses, as they face a decline in oil prices and geopolitical instability as well as the rapid evolution of digital technology.

Retailers are responding to consumer preference as well, using augmented reality and other technologies to enhance in-store experiences with customised guided store tours, alerting shoppers to deal and information based on past purchases, and cashless payment upon exit. Time-conscious consumers have shown their willingness to embrace technology to enhance their in-store experience.

The consumer journey is increasingly convoluted

Marketers’ ability to capitalise on O2O matters as consumers travel an increasingly tangled path that goes from digital to physical and back again. Shoppers expect to engage with your brand across multiple channels and welcome relevant, personalised offers on each platform they visit – your brand site, social media, email, and across publishers.

You know your online promotions contribute to offline conversions. But you may not know how much credit to give to each online touchpoint for an offline sale. The ultimate goal is to be able to directly tie online marketing to offline actions such as in-store visits and sales.

How you can bridge the O2O attribution gap

Advertisers will spend over $270bn on digital media worldwide this year. Understanding the impact and return of these investments is critical. Many marketers are turning to multi-touch attribution solutions to help them understand what consumers do in the physical world after seeing an online ad.

Multi-touch attribution helps marketers understand the impact that each online marketing channel (social, display, paid search, video) has on online and offline sales. It also reveals how effective each campaign is, down to the dimension level (publisher, creative, offer, etc), and how channels interact with each other.

This allows marketers to optimise advertising in flight. It also allows them to attribute revenue to each channel and calculate return on investment (ROI) so that they can allocate future budgets properly.

While many marketers rely on a last-touch approach for attribution, only a holistic view of customer activity across online and offline channels lets you see what’s really happening as a result of your marketing activities.

Measuring multichannel marketing impact

Technology has created a huge opportunity for EMEA retailers to leverage data to make smarter decisions. Advanced attribution solutions can now integrate offline marketing touchpoints and conversion events at the user level.

Not only does this integration provide a more complete view of the consumer journey, but it also provides insights into which combination of marketing channels and tactics drive different digital and offline success criteria so you can better optimise the omnichannel consumer experience.

By syncing customer IDs with offline conversion data, marketers can see a holistic view of the consumer journey that bridges digital and physical experiences. For the first time, you can see not only which online ads drive offline sales, but also learn much more about your customers’ path to purchase.

New measurement for a new era

Many marketers struggle to gain a holistic understanding of how their marketing and advertising influence consumer behavior and drive business outcomes. This is particularly challenging when the desired outcome occurs in an offline environment such as an in-store purchase or call centre transaction.

With multi-touch attribution, retailers can follow an individual’s journey across online and offline channels, attribute the right value to each interaction for each consumer, and make smarter marketing decisions, no matter where they are in the world.

Ginna Hall is senior content writer at Nielsen Visual IQ. This article first appeared on

To learn more about how you can be a better marketer in the digital era, download our ebook: Crossing the New Digital Divide: Your Guide to Marketing Effectiveness


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