What is Ahead for Retail in a Cookie-Free Environment?


The gradual phase-out of third-party cookies poses challenges for digital marketers. On a positive note, it presents an opportunity for marketers to reimagine the modern customer-brand relationship based on trust and respect based on first-party data.


The impact will likely be felt more acutely in retail than in any other industry. After all, retail marketing aims to create memorable experiences for customers rather than advertise to them. Consumers are more privacy-conscious than ever before when shopping, but they still want individualized experiences that cater to their specific needs and desires.


A New Era of Digital Experiences


There’s no doubt that the way retail brands collect data, build audiences, and deliver experiences is changing as third-party cookies become obsolete. According to Adobe’s Digital Trends, six out of ten senior executives believe that adapting to the cookieless future’s requirements will have a “disruptive effect” on their marketing.


Disruption, on the other hand, does not have to be a bad thing. Fundamentals of retail marketing will remain the same by utilizing high-quality data to understand better, communicate with, and build trust with customers.


And, let’s face it, third-party cookies have never been flawless. Most marketers recall discussions about low match rates (essential for delivering omnichannel experiences) and the open nature of third-party cookies, which meant that everyone had the same level and quality of data. Yes, retailers had access to third-party data, but they never wholly understood their customers.


As a result of the demise of third-party cookies, brands now have the opportunity to shift marketing strategies toward quality, where customer data profiles are infinitely more accurate thanks to consent-based first-party data. With better data comes the ability to create more powerful experiences that meet the higher expectations of customers.


So, what’s going on in the world of retail marketing these days? Forward-thinking marketers aren’t waiting for third-party cookies to vanish completely before experimenting with and implementing new strategies. Marketers and advertisers are already working with less data thanks to Apple’s move to make explicit consent a requirement, combined with automatic cookie deletion. Instead of focusing on the drawbacks, marketers should look for ways to better use the data they already have and collect more first-party data from their customers directly. How can you do it?


How Can Retail Keep up with the Cookie-Free Trend?


Supporting first-party strategies with new technology: Many modern technologies rely on third-party cookies to power various marketing activities. Companies can only get a complete view of their customers and build a lasting relationship based on trust by investing in a first-party data strategy. However, new platforms are surfacing that highlight first-party data as the new lifeblood of a brand’s customer experience strategy. Customer Data Platforms (CDPs), such as Adobe’s Real-time CDP (built on Adobe Experience Platform), have emerged as a unified hub that allows brands to store data and better understand and act on it.


To ensure value exchange, it’s either real-time or bust in retail. Marketers can update customer profiles in real-time with a current CDP, reacting quickly to market shifts and customer behavior. Customers can control their data by using real-time first-party data, while retailers can use their expert tools to provide the best experience possible.


Machine learning will be used for known and unknown visitors to personalize the experience: Third-party cookies were the primary method of identifying and targeting unknown visitors to a brand’s website before their demise. Machine learning allows marketers to anonymous visitors with timely and personalized content and experiences. Also, it enables brands to recognize common patterns and unknown visitor journeys and the best time to inquire about registration and consent, allowing them to transition from anonymous visitor to known customer faster by providing the right experience at the precise moment in time.


Partnerships in data collaboration to reach new audiences: This allows retailers to expand their help to engage first-party data library by combining it with partners in a privacy-aware manner, resulting in better insights and higher levels of personalization. Customers’ consent allows partners to share non-sensitive data to build more complete portraits of a customer’s behavior and preferences and reach new audiences.


Taking Care of the Cookie-Shaped Void


A cookie-free future will prompt a true attitudinal shift in the retail sector. Whereas retailers previously used third-party data to target campaigns at a specific time, the first-party data future will see marketers adopt a lifetime value view of their customers based on a respectful two-way relationship that benefits both parties.


After all, personalization can take many forms, depending on the context – from content delivery to offline experiences – and can be applied to known and unknown customers. Cookieless represents an opportunity to redress the power imbalance between retailers and customers, rebuild trust where mistakes have been made in the past, and rewrite the customer experience by putting the customer in control of the information they share without jeopardizing their modern retail experience.


About Author

Barb Rogers

Barb has worked within the digital advertising and marketing space for over 20 years. Over the years, she found it difficult to find information on the simplest of subjects tied to the digital marketing space, so she decided to embark on a journey to create a space that others may appreciate.

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