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The Future of Retail Is Collaborative

Jeff Cohn Aug 03 2021 11 AM | 8 min read

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic transformed ways of working and consumer behavior, shifts were already underway. In the world of retail, this was evident for workers, shoppers, and advertisers. But especially now, the lines are becoming increasingly blurred in our lives: whether it’s in-person vs. virtual, in-the-office vs. remote, or in-store vs. online.

The Future of Retail

McKinsey & Company noted that the future of retail will be a combination of physical and digital worlds into one. “A lot of the resource investment—both human capital and capital expenditure in dollars—needs to shift away from opening new brick-and-mortar stores and toward putting it into technology.” 

As consumer expectations increase, retail companies and businesses will need to conquer the challenge of keeping up with scale and ever-changing technology. In fact, the notion of keeping up with scale is not a new concept: beyond manufacturing, selling, shipping, and fulfilling across multiple product lines for consumers at scale, the numerous teams at retail companies are also tasked with managing and delivering on projects at scale.

Collaboration Is Key

If we consider just the digital advertising sector alone, there are multiple teams responsible for working together to meet deadlines, generate sales, and ensure customer satisfaction. These can include planning and investment channel teams across digital display, programmatic, online video, social media, and creative production.

With all of the digital ad campaigns being run for all of these business units and product lines across all of these teams, figuring out how to effectively collaborate has continually proven to be difficult. But as consumers expect more—both from product offerings and personalized experiences—the time for retail companies to invest in best practices for collaboration has never been more important than right now.

How Smartly.io Can Help Your Team

Smartly.io is the go-to partner combining market-leading tech with expert strategy and services empowering advertisers to collaborate with others, break down silos, and advertise across the many so-called ‘walled gardens’ of social.

56% of the brands we surveyed globally said that their media advertising and creative teams will work together more closely this year. Our technology allows teams to do this in one central hub while establishing a single source of truth for your social advertising needs. But what does this mean exactly?

Collaborate Across Business Units

The retail industry certainly has no shortage of product categories and business units. This makes it challenging to manage and keep up with details across multiple sub-verticals—and even harder to work with team members assigned to other sub-verticals. Whether it’s in the planning phase, mid-flight, or in pulling post-campaign information, the sheer scale of ad campaigns can sometimes cause confusion and chaos for even the best of bookkeepers.

Smartly.io allows for verticalization of campaign flows, as you should never have to create a new campaign draft or reporting view from scratch. By leveraging customized pivot views, you can dive deeper into performance and insights for each business unit. Let’s say you wanted to quickly see how spring co-op beauty campaigns on Pinterest performed last fiscal year, or maybe you wanted to easily pull first-party revenue and app engagement metrics for a new loyalty campaign test. Smartly.io allows for cross-campaign and multi-platform comparison views to accomplish these category-specific, seasonal-specific, and year-over-year goals.

When running campaign initiatives across social platforms, it can be complicated to manually pull reporting from each Ads Manager interface and then sift through the information. This is especially applicable to pacing checks done across campaigns. And for agencies managing social strategy, planning, and buying on behalf of retail clients, multiple questions about pacing and performance will come up across various sub-verticals on a daily basis.

With Smartly.io, ensure you never miss underspend, overspend, or underperforming ads by using a custom pivot for pacing built to your campaign specifications. Having a proper checks-and-balances system in place will not only allow you to catch and flag campaign-specific issues across Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snap before they seriously impact your bottom line, but will also help you to reinvest or add incremental budget based on scale (and keep the finance team happy!).

Collaborate Across Teams 

Smartly.io combines media, creative, and data into one central platform to enable teams of all shapes and sizes to work together. From a social media channel standpoint it can be difficult to coordinate processes with different parts of the organization. For example, you might receive creative assets in piecemeal, plug them into campaigns, work with web analysts and ad operations teams on trafficking and tagging URLs for your ads, make mid-flight optimizations, and measure effectiveness of campaigns on each platform—all while being tasked with planning responsibilities for future performance improvements. Besides the ways Smartly.io can automate campaign setup and optimize budget based on performance, we can also work with you on the customer success side to ensure nitty-gritty details and technicalities don’t get in your way.

Creative and content teams can also use our platform to see which asset versions are performing well and which aren’t. By leveraging our Creative Editor, you can seamlessly scale up and adjust multiple versions of image and video templates for ads to be run by media team counterparts. Adopting a modular creative approach and testing plan, you can measure the specific elements within ads more likely to produce favorable campaign outcomes.

The icing on the creative cake is our Ad Ranking view, which makes it easy for you to identify and visually analyze your top performing ads to inform future creative direction alongside performance analysts and campaign planners. Since creative decisions go a long way in determining performance, it is essential to have all teams working in lockstep.

Retail Gif

When it comes to data, we make it easier to standardize reporting and benchmarks so performance marketers and analysts can develop stronger test-and-learn agendas alongside investment teams. By customizing pivot views with shareable columns and dimensions, custom reporting expressions, and tagging, you are able to drill down to levels of performance which aren’t typically that apparent. For instance you can add funnel stages to reporting views or break down performance by each day of the week. Couple this with the ability to evaluate performance across platforms and you’ll be seamlessly pulling strategic insights and recommendations for other teams in no time.

Additionally, we know that teams may often be pressed for time and resources. This can occur when there are many campaigns to launch or when producing multiple creative assets is too much of a lift. In these cases you can tap into our Managed or Creative Services capabilities. We can function as an additional arm to your business and help to get your time-sensitive or multifaceted projects over the finish line. Just let us know the scope of your needs and we will handle the rest.

Collaborate Across Stakeholders

Whether your stakeholders are internal or external, Smartly.io has you covered. We streamline collaboration by automating tedious work and reducing review cycles, thereby making the approval process less of a hassle. For example, rather than creating a creative asset for each audience segment across specific geolocations and then manually assigning them to your ad sets during setup, our platform allows you to do all of that in one fell swoop without the human risk of inaccuracies or mistakes. This way you can feel more confident sharing and reviewing preview links, knowing your setup and QA processes are standardized. You can also easily share custom reports with key stakeholders so they don’t have to spend time digging through dashboards for information.

For co-op advertising and co-marketing, we also eliminate the barriers to collaborative relationships. Through our Creative Editor, you can build out co-marketing templates that not only represent both brands in one creative asset but can also be pre-approved based on alignment of brand guidelines, logos, fonts, colors, showcased products, conditional rendering, and more. A great example of this in action is how we enhance Collaborative Ads on Facebook. In fact, Facebook mentioned Smartly.io as being the right partner for brands working with retail marketplaces to help launch and optimize their Collaborative Ads campaigns.

Even going beyond the core difficulties of stakeholder relationships, there can be additional technical challenges when working across different countries, markets, catalogs, languages, and currencies. Because of these challenges, retail businesses today need feedback loops and connected workflows that actually work. We at Smartly.io have helped our customers bridge these gaps with turnkey solutions while continually making adjustments to accommodate the future of retail.

Social advertising campaigns aren’t always complex in nature, but it’s the difficulty of achieving scale that can make them complex. So contact us and we’ll be there to collaborate with you and help to make your day-to-day life easier. After all, there’s nothing that a little bit of hand-holding can’t solve!

   Coronavirus Social Marketer's Resource CHECK IT NOW <https://www.smartly.io/covid-19-insights-hub-social-advertising>
Author
Jeff Cohn
Jeff Cohn is a global product marketing manager at Smartly.io. His thought leadership and expertise within digital advertising and the retail industry stands out in the articles he writes. Prior to joining Smartly.io he managed social media advertising campaigns for some of the largest clients in the world including AT&T, Target, and Macy's. He was also a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.

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