Naysayers have been predicting the death of the high street and retailing as we know it for many years now. Looking at innovations taking place within the retail space and the companies that are trying out new technology to keep their customers engaged and bring them in-store, it looks like the retail space is poised for huge growth in 2015.

Here are my tips for staying ahead of the game in 2015.

The Internet of Everything becomes more than a concept

2014 was the year we started to hear a lot about the implementation of the Internet of Everything. But 2015 will be the year it really goes mainstream. From SmartTVs to smart heating systems, like Nest, to the growth in wearables, we have seen more and more products becoming connected to the web. In September, The Guardian predicted that the upcoming Apple Watch was going to power the Internet of Everything and with the massive amounts of news coverage the Apple product received without even being released, it looks like 2015 will be its year.

For retailers, turning their entire retail shops into smart spaces is one way they are completing the circle between online and offline and pulling people into their stores. Using beacons, geolocation, push notifications and mobile apps, retailers are able to send personalised, hyper relevant and micro localised messages to their customers in-store. With more and more retailers using beacons and more customers now aware of the technology, sales are set to increase and revenues will see uplift from greater use of this up and coming technology. The challenge will be for companies to make the technology a seamless experience for customers and work on integrating it into their overall marketing strategy.

Ambient Proximity

Location based marketing is going to become smarter and even more personalised in 2015. With the ‘always on’ nature of smartphones and the increased use of beacons and apps, people are going to be able to receive highly targeted messages and retailers will be able to gather huge amounts of data. As customers get more comfortable with their devices constantly and automatically sharing their location and other information with apps and beacons, this data can help customers to experience more enjoyable in-store retail visits and help retailers deliver that experience.

TechCrunch recently talked about how they feel that ambient proximity was the next phase of location sharing. They meant it more from a social point of view with people using apps like Facebook’s Nearby Friends (US only at the moment) and Foursquare’s proximity app Swarm to connect with friends near them but this social element of a user’s location being constantly shared can be extended to the retail space as well.

If customers can be persuaded to constantly share their locations via an app and beacons, this can be extremely powerful for retailers. Things like dwell times, accurate footfall traffic management and heatmapping all help to understand customers better and provide them with a better service.

Connected Personalisation

The days are long gone when companies didn’t need to personalise and they could still be successful. Personalisation in 2015 needs to go one step further. All marketing needs to be connected and feel the same across every channel and every message. Connected personalisation enables a company to personalise every marketing message for a particular customer. So the email they receive or the website products they get recommended or the in app message that pings on their phones should all be tailored to them and their preferences. With customers now expecting this sort of joined up thinking, we are going to see it growing, as more companies find ways to make all their marketing messages highly personalised and homogenised.

One way to do this is by having an interconnected system powering all these marketing messages running in the background. This will lead to a single marketing view with every touch point that a customer has with a company’s messages being highly personalised and targeted. One company that is doing it very well is Netflix. The company is a champion of personalisation using customer data and viewing habits to recommend highly targeted and relevant content to its users. Some sources are even suggesting that this level of personalisation and Netflix’s overall video on demand strategy has led to a drop in illegal downloads. Users of Netflix are becoming used to the idea of sharing their personal data with Netflix because they see a clear benefit to doing so.

Big Data Integration

The next step is using the massive amounts of data that is collected by enabling next level proximity marketing, highly targeted in-store beacon messages and connecting all marketing channels together. This data can be used to leverage previous interactions, purchase history and current interactions to deliver real time personalised one to one communication that will actually lead to an increase in sales.

Segments of groups will now become segments of one and marketing will be targeted to the individual instead of to customers with similar profiles. The ability to gather large amounts of data will increase the level of communication that customers have with companies and end the pushing out of messages to have a greater focus on inclusive marketing with input from customers.

The Connected Consumer

All of this will eventually lead to the connected consumer; the consumer that is so integrated into a business with such highly targeted offers and messages that they will not shop anywhere else. These connected consumers will interact with businesses more and more through their phones, tablets and in 2015 through wearables as well.

It is going to be very important for companies to get all their marketing channels integrated and offer content to customers through the device and in the manner that they prefer instead of the other way around. The more integrated and connected a consumer is with a business, the more they will use their services and shop for their products and ultimately drive revenue. In 2015, if a customer doesn’t find a business or a retailer on their chosen device or content offered in the manner they want, they will run to the open arms of the competition.

2015 will be the year when companies use all their different avenues of marketing in the most targeted way to communicate the most relevant and powerful messages to their customers. This will include contextual emails, responsive websites, mobile marketing, real-time social media, ambient proximity and big data to create a sense of the truly connected customer. By having a two-way conversation, companies will find that they have loyal and engaged customers that are so integrated with the company’s products and services that they will not shop anywhere else and help to increase sales and revenue.

Az Ahmed

Az Ahmed


Az Ahmed is a Senior Marketing Consultant at SmartFocus.