Key Takeaways

1. Amazon will remain the dominant e-tailer in the ecommerce space by far— 41.4% of 2021 U.S. retail ecommerce sales.

 

2. There will be an increased focus on hybrid shopping experiences. Brick and mortar retailers are launching more digital offerings while some ecommerce brands are looking into opening physical locations.

 

3. Over 60% of back-to-school shopping experiences will begin and end in separate marketing channels.

 

4. Mobile will play a significant role in consumer product research, brand communication/engagement, coupon/discount usage, and ultimately, purchasing. 88% of marketers say the collection of first-party data is a high priority in 2021. Retail brands will want to work with trusted data partners to ensure campaigns are effectively reaching the right consumers in the increasingly competitive retail space and fragmented media landscape.

 

5. Back-to-school shopping won’t be completed in a single trip, and retail marketers should leverage targeting/retargeting tactics to re-engage consumers to drive purchases. As marketers focus on the entire consumer journey rather than just an end point, multi-touch attribution solution offerings are now critical.

Back-To-School Will Be Bigger Than Ever in 2021

Back-to-school (BTS), the second-largest shopping season of the year, is typically a time of new beginnings. Though this year, consumers seem to be more eager than usual for a fresh start. As teachers and children prepare for another school year and parents ready themselves for a similar “return to office” scenario, this year’s BTS season will be fueled by a wave of optimism mixed with uncertainty around the Delta variant—these emotions are sure to influence purchases. 

Regardless of how students wind up returning to class—whether in-person, online, or a hybrid of both—back-to-school shopping is set to achieve a new record. For retailers, the BTS season comes at a critical moment. Retailers can benefit from shoppers’ increased comfort with online shopping and strong demand for everything from apparel to electronics. 

Amazon Will Continue Its Reign in Ecommerce

While many retailers saw a frenzy of pandemic-driven ecommerce growth over the past 18 months, Amazon remains the dominant e-tailer  in the U.S. and is expected to earn more than $2 of every $5 spent shopping online this year. In 2021, Amazon will contribute more than 50% of U.S. growth in online sales from 2019 to 2021.2 Retail brands will need to be creative and consistent with messaging to compete against Amazon for a share of shoppers’ wallets.

In the company’s latest efforts to further disrupt the retail space, Amazon is planning to open several brick-and-mortar retail locations in the U.S. that resemble department stores. While the plans are not yet finalized, the square footage of Amazon’s stores are expected to be only a third the size of average department stores—30,000 square feet, versus the traditional 100,000 square feet and will most likely sell Amazon’s private-label brands including clothing, household items, and electronics, according to The Wall Street Journal

COVID Was the Digital Accelerant of the Decade

The pandemic accelerated companies’ digital communications strategy by an average of 6 years while 97% of enterprise decision makers believe the pandemic sped up their company’s digital transformation.3 In response to evolving customer preferences and shopping habits, there will be an increased focus on hybrid shopping experiences. The line between ecommerce clicks and retail bricks will continue to blur, as native digital brands navigate the post-pandemic retail space, and more traditional retailers cross over into the DTC lane. 

In today’s retail space, ​​success for brick-and-mortar businesses means making the shift to a “digital-first” mindset, largely in the form of digital advances that personalize consumer experiences—but digital-first does not mean digital-only. Brick and mortar retailers are launching more digitally-enabled offerings while some ecommerce brands are looking into opening physical locations. Tech-driven personalization is at the core of consumer interactions with the streaming services they use every day, like Netflix and Spotify, and those interactions are personalized in a way that feels natural. Because of this constant personalization, consumers now expect brick-and-mortar businesses to offer up the same user experience in real life.

Reshaping The Retail Experience

Though consumers are much more comfortable shopping in-store this year than last year during the peak of the pandemic, online remains a top destination for back-to-school shopping. Digital browsing and discovery will be crucial. For many consumers, online shopping will remain a habit. 

U.S. ecommerce sales are projected to continue double-digit growth—up 17.9% this year and surpassing $1t in 2022—and it on track to surpass 20% of total retail by 2024.4

This year, ecommerce sales will be 53% higher than the back-to-school season in 2019.5

 

Omnichannel marketing will be crucial for retailers, as over 60% of back-to-school shopping experiences will begin and end in separate channels.6 As customers are increasingly shopping across different platforms now more than ever, providing a seamless, frictionless shopping experience across channels can give you a competitive edge and make your business more adaptable—all while amplifying reach and sales.

Mobile will play a significant role in consumer product research, brand communication/engagement, coupon/discount usage, and ultimately, purchasing. Smartphones are still the most used device for back-to-school—with 64% of consumers using mobile when shopping—and have seen a 5% growth from 2020.7 85% of consumers plan to engage with brands via mobile.6 Although the pandemic accelerated the shift to mcommerce (mobile commerce), its rapid growth will not end with the “return to normal”. Over three-fourths (76%) of consumers would purchase a product if it was relevant to them on mobile directly from an advertisement.7 Today, people are more willing to try mcommerce innovations than they were two years ago. Annual mcommerce sales will double its share of retail sales by 2025. U.S. retail mcommerce sales grew at 41.4% in 2020 and will grow another 15.2% in 2021, to reach $359.32b.8

Data-Driven Personalization Pays Off

According to IDC, by 2025, every connected person in the world will have a digital data engagement over 4,900 times on average per day – that’s about 1 digital interaction every 18 seconds. The high amount of digital interaction consumers display every day, paired with data that comes from those interactions, will allow retail businesses to better understand consumer buying behavior. According to PubMatic, shopping apps had the highest IDFA presence (79%) in iOS 14.5+ in July. Additionally, users who download commerce apps from the App Store are more likely to opt-in to receiving ads.

Many retail brands over-index on early back-to-school marketing—almost half of back-to-school consumers will still be doing their shopping in September. The smartest retail marketers will tap known customer and prospect data to understand which items back-to-school shoppers are most likely to buy, and when they’re most likely to do it. Credit card transaction data can help you gain consumer and competitive insights to improve targeting, measurement, sales lift, and more. When a retailer recommends more options based on historical data—like past purchases—they are more likely to make a purchase, both online and in-store.3

First-Party Data is Gold, But Brands Need to Know How to Use It

First-party data (also known as CRM data) is more valuable than ever before, especially for retail brands looking to tap into known customers and prospects. First-party data allows marketers to build direct relationships with consumers, offers value in exchange for data (benefiting both parties), and boosts advertising performance. It provides insights including purchase history, online behaviors, stated interests, intent signals, and demographic data. Retail brands can glean crucial information about their audience from first-party data, everything from identifying the highest-value customers to grouping key customer segments (by demographic, behavior, geographic, etc.) to understanding the customer journey. With first-party data, brands can better understand what consumers are interested in, what they’re buying, how often they’re replenishing products, and what ultimately drives conversions. This data is the key to developing the personalized experiences consumers are seeking. 

Large companies, such as PepsiCo to Procter & Gamble, are seeking ways to collect first-party data in a shopper-friendly fashion, via direct-to-consumer platforms. 88% of marketers say the collection and storage of first-party data is a high priority in 20219—but collecting this data is only the first step. Retail brands should work with trusted data partners that offer innovative audience segmentation and targeting capabilities to ensure their campaigns are effectively reaching and resonating with the right consumers and their brand remains top of mind in the increasingly competitive retail space and fragmented media landscape. In successful marketing campaigns, data-driven insights power personalization. 

Reaching Consumers on OTT

OTT provides the perfect “lean-in” environment to deliver your messaging alongside premium content. OTT ads can significantly extend your reach and make it easier for you to connect with your targeted customers. OTT channels allow for the targeting of segmented audiences:, further narrowing your focus on high-value target audiences. Since you can choose the programming you target, you can often target your ads directly to the consumers who are most likely to benefit from your products. This means of advertising also often offers more immediate results: people streaming content can interact directly within the ad itself, which means they can respond immediately, rather than having to wait until a later time to interact with your content. 

Digital Remedy Retailer Strategies

Since consumers will likely not be doing all their back-to-school shopping in a single trip due to COVID-related in-store shopping challenges, it will be critical for retail marketers to build campaigns that leverage unique ad formats and targeting tactics to capture and recapture consumer attention in intervals—re-engaging shoppers across multiple dates (and devices) to drive purchases. 

Digital Remedy offers retail marketers a full suite of unique audience segments and innovative targeting capabilities across trusted, premium inventory sources, and in-depth campaign performance measurement and insights. With our Flip solution, brands can target back-to-school shoppers across various channels, including display, video, mobile, and OTT/CTV. Backed by our strategic partnerships with leading data vendors, we offer the following targeting opportunities:

CRM Lookalikes – Leverage your own customer data and segmentation framework to create online audiences for display campaigns using email, IP addresses, or other available data. Leverage the entirety of your CRM lists to translate this data into targetable (and retargetable) segments—extending your reach and connecting your brand with new, high-value consumers with similar characteristics who are most likely to convert.

 

Run Across Relevant PMP’s – Target users across categories including Mom’s Interests, Education, Retail & Shopping, Moms sites such as foodandwine.com, ratemyprofessors.com, lowes.com, instyle.com, etc.

 

ACR Targeting – Using the industry’s largest ACR dataset, reach viewers based on viewing behavior, including keyword-, network- program-, genre-, or cast-based targeting.

 

Audience Targeting & Seasonal Segments – Deliver your ads to the right consumers based on relevant audience segments such as “back-to-school shoppers”, “adults with children under 18 in the household”, “adults with interest in/affinity for education”, etc.

 

Location-Based Targeting – Use location data to target consumers based on recent visits to physical store locations of department/Big Box stores such as Target, Costco, Walmart, Kmart, etc.

 

Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) – Get in front of current and potential customers to generate brand awareness, reaching them across screens such as movie theaters, QSR kiosks, Grocery stores, schools & universities, etc.

 

Native – Deliver your messaging in contextually relevant content across Family & Parenting vertical across sites such as FamilyEducation.com, ModernMom.com, ParentzTalk.com, etc.

 

Keyword Search/Contextual Targeting – Place your ads in front of users who are reading content that contains specific terms or keywords surrounding back-to-school shopping such as ‘back-to-school clothes’, ‘school supplies’, ‘back-to-school looks’, etc.

 

AI Modeling – For conversion-based campaigns, retarget and prospect users who have visited your brand’s site.

 

Shopper Data – We can leverage shopper data from IRI, Amazon, Nielsen CPG, Kantar, etc. to reach back-to-school shoppers based on previous purchases and buying habits.

Learn about our retail-focused ad solutions

As the consumer journey continues to evolve, attribution will become a main focus for retail brands. And as marketers focus on the entire consumer journey rather than just an end point, multi-touch attribution reporting will become critical. Our Flip solution provides full-funnel attribution to paint a complete picture of shopper behavior from start to end. With Flip, advertisers, agencies, and ad buyers can seamlessly connect authentic digital impressions (ad views) to measurable actions (app installs, site visits, online purchases, and in-store visits) and see which parts of their campaign are most effectively driving results among key consumers—and which ones need to pivot. Additionally, we can leverage offline sales (credit card purchasing and CPG shopper card data) and measure brand lift to evaluate the effectiveness of your campaign. With Flip, BTS marketers vested in brick-and-mortar can identify the most lucrative DMAs in terms of driving foot traffic and reallocate additional budget on those key geographic areas to maximize ROI. Flip allows advertisers to deliver messaging to the right audiences, at the right time, in the right mindset across whatever device they are consuming media on. 

Discover how a leading shoe store leveraged Flip to drive online sales

From innovative targeting tactics to in-depth attribution reporting, Digital Remedy has everything retail marketers need to stay ahead of the game this BTS season. If you’re interested in getting more granular with your back-to-school marketing efforts—let’s talk.

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Sources:

  1. National Retail Federation, 2021 Brings Back-to-Class Shopping to Record Levels
  2. eMarketer, April 2021, “Amazon dominates US ecommerce, though its market share varies by category”
  3. Twilio, COVID-19 Digital Engagement Report 
  4. eMarketer, US Ecommerce Forecast 2021
  5. Mastercard SpendingPulse, June 2021
  6. Zeta Global, July 2021, Back to School Marketing 2021: A Guide for the Retail Industry
  7. AdColony Back to School Shopping 2021 Survey
  8. eMarketer, Mcommerce Forecast 2021
  9. Merkle’s 2021 Customer Engagement Report

Mike Seiman

Mike Seiman, CEO & Chairman, is the founder of Digital Remedy, a digital media solutions company leading the tech enabled marketing space he co-founded while still a college student at Hofstra University in the early 2000s. The company has grown quickly and is now a major player within the crowded digital advertising landscape. The rapid growth of Digital Remedy, formerly CPXi led to its inclusion on Inc. Magazine’s list of fastest growing privately held advertising/marketing companies in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2014. Mike was selected as a semi-finalist in Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year initiative in 2010 and 2013 and as a finalist in 2009 and 2014. In his free time, Mike serves on the Board of Trustees of his alma mater, Hofstra University. He also focuses on numerous philanthropic initiatives including sitting on the boards of the H.E.S. (Hebrew Educational Society non-profit community center) and Children International, where he spearheaded the development of community centers in both Guayaquil, Ecuador in 2010 and Barranquilla, Colombia in 2014.

David Zapletal

Before graduating in 2005 with degrees in Retail and Consumer Science (with an emphasis in eCommerce) and a Minor in Public Business Administration at the University of Arizona, David Zapletal had already successfully grown a start up ad network from serving an initial 1 million impressions per day to over 10 million impressions per day. It was his deep understanding of internet advertising during the industry’s beginning stages that led him to another start up at the time, CPXi. More than 8 years that have passed and Zapletal currently serves as Chief Innovation & Media Officer for Digital Remedy. In that role he continues to help grow and implement optimization tactics across various ad serving platforms, oversee daily operations of the account management and trafficking groups and maximizes ROI for Direct Response advertisers as well as for Publishers. Outside of Digital Remedy, Zapletal commits his efforts to an organization called Camp Dream Street, a camping program for children with disabilities, where he serves on the Board of Directors.

Jeff Reitzen

Jeff has worked in multiple facets of the online industry, from sales to operations as well as consumer engagement, content analytics and most recently in data optimization. His career began as a wedding, bar mitzvah, and Sweet 16 DJ where he learned the delicate balance of crowd energy management. Quickly, this skill made him incredibly successful in managing online sales for Geico. He joined CPXi at its startup stage as employee number 4 and has been a key driver of continued growth. His unique knowledge of what converts in the digital ad space, the application of data, and how to optimize platforms for efficiency continues to be invaluable to Digital Remedy clients. Today, Jeff is responsible for innovating and optimizing all Digital Remedy offerings including platforms, systems, tools, and internal processes—ensuring the organization remains on the precipice of the marketplace.

Mike Juhas

Mike Juhas, has over 13+ years of experience in ad tech client services, working with brands, agencies, and publishers ranging from top 10 advertisers to small regional organizations, to rep firms, holding companies and independent shops. An integral member of the Digital Remedy team, Juhas leads all client relationships, including facilitating onboarding and integration, establishing relationship protocols, overseeing Quarterly Business Reviews and status meetings, navigating financial coordination, and overseeing 24/7 team support. His specialties include consultative services, planning strategy, and account management disciplines. Juhas lives in New Canaan, CT with his wife and two daughters, and their dog, Perry–the unofficial company mascot.

TJ Sullivan

TJ Sullivan has over 20 years of media sales and leadership experience. His knowledge of the digital media landscape, ability to develop strategic solutions that solve brand challenges, and talent for motivating sales teams, have made him a vital member of several media and ad tech organizations. Before joining Digital Remedy, Sullivan was VP, Connections at iHeart Media, a cross-divisional group that enabled national advertisers to seamlessly work with multiple iHeart business units; CRO of Reelcontent, a video distribution company for brands; SVP of sales at AdoTube, a video ad network; and was Co-Founder and SVP of video measurement company, OpenSlate—for which he is still an advisor.

Sullivan had served as the President of 212, New York’s Interactive Advertising Club, and currently advises many early stage start-ups in the programmatic and video space. Notably, RUN (sold to Publicis in 2014), Futures Media, Transmit.Live, and Kubient.

Outside of his work in the media industry, Sullivan sits on the Board of St. Elizabeth School in Wyckoff, New Jersey and the Advancement Committee of St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, New Jersey. He resides in New Jersey with his wife and four children.

IP Zone: Leverage the relationship between users and the location of their IP addresses in a cookie-free, safe and scalable way.

Behavioral: Combine first party with network analytics and enormous scale to define custom audience channels that are optimized to sites with high brand engagement.

Demographic: Reach the right audience based on demographic characteristics such as age, gender and income.

Mobile Device: Target users by mobile device type (Smartphone, tablet, etc.), carrier and operating system.

Geo-Location: Target your audience residential cluster, proximity to retail locations, campaign level DMAs and more.

Contextual: Place a relevant ad in front of a user who is reading content that contains specific terms.

Buying Power and Quality

Let’s be honest. Your ad ops are limited by your access to only a handful of channels and DSPs. You want more reach and better prices, but don’t want to sacrifice quality in order to achieve those goals. Digital Remedy has access to a vast multitude of channels based on relationships we’ve cultivated over nearly 20 years in business. That means we get the best prices, have personal relationships, and don’t get sent to voicemail when we call.

It also means that we can execute omni-channel ad ops for better prices than an internal team, while ensuring the quality is up to industry standards. On top of access to all sorts of specific audiences we’re able to to leverage first- and third-party data across all your campaigns and pivot across platforms based on results. Any campaign, any budget, any platform, any audience. Digital Remedy backed by AdReady is restriction free ad ops….and what could be better than that?

Resources, Time, and Overhead

When was the last time you enjoyed balancing budgets, reading resumes, dealing with aggressive sales teams, or wasting years of time for small gains in performance. By partnering with Digital Remedy you get the full support of $30m in OPEX including marketing teams, sales teams, and a dedicated 24/7 ad operations team. No hiring new employees for media optimization, business development, or account management. No months of training and on-boarding. No long meetings crafting sales materials. Just your team focused on making deals, and our teams and tech focused on supporting and executing those deals in a tech-enabled, digital ecosystem designed to get the most out of any KPI.

Reporting and Support

How nice would it be to have all of your data and insights in one location. We don’t mean an excel sheet sent out once a week with complicated charts, or an XML file with pages and pages and pages of tables (what is this, 2003?). We mean a fully customizable dashboard reporting in real time, or as real time as possible. You get to decide the how, what, and when of the reporting you’re seeing. And that’s ALL of the how, what, and when’s. If you want to see breakouts of all of the individual campaigns in your system, done. If you want broad scope comparisons of all of the campaigns in the last year, done. If you want to see CTR’s for specific audiences and compare them to CPM for your best performing advertiser but limit the scope to campaigns greater than 30k, done. All of this is at your fingertips with the AdReady Dashboard, all in one place.

Jessica Cortapasso

With more than a decade of experience in human capital management, Jessica Cortapasso serves as SVP, People at Digital Remedy. After graduating from Muhlenberg College, she quickly recognized her passion for people and entered the workforce in Human Resources where she gained expertise in employee relations, designing strategic benefit plans, and the development, implementation, and curation of corporate engagement initiatives for big-name brands and small companies alike. Becoming a member of the Digital Remedy family in 2013 while simultaneously acquiring her Masters Degree in Human Resources Management and Development from New York University, Jessica has steered company culture through significant events ranging from acquisitions and a rebranding, to the development and application of our Core Values that shape our daily business practices. Cortapasso resides in Brooklyn, plays competitive volleyball, and loves spending time with her nieces.

Erez Feld

Responsible for the financial and legal practices of Digital Remedy, Erez brings 22 years of experience in precision financial analysis, growth management practices, strategic acquisition, and investment leadership. A graduate of Hofstra University, Erez began his career modeling for corporate finance, and expanded his accounting prowess in the real estate sector. Erez joined Digital Remedy in 2008 as a senior accountant, and helped to create and build an accounting department that could support the rapid growth of the company and aligned with those needs. Over the past 12 years he has evolved through various positions at the company within the finance discipline, supervising and mentoring additional finance personnel, while growing under the tutelage of Michael Fleischman, former CFO of Digital Remedy. Today, he leads the Finance Department by supporting high-level projects such as acquisitions and restructuring, and is responsible for overseeing all financial assets, establishing financial procedures, controls, and reporting systems.

Michael Fleischman

After a successful career as an accomplished Fortune 500 financial professional leading Corporate Finance and Strategic Planning at Cablevision Systems Corporation and its programming subsidiary Rainbow Media Holdings, Michael currently plays a role in the overall management of Digital Remedy including direct responsibility for all financial-related activities including accounting, financial planning, M&A, legal, insurance, real estate and banking relationships. Michael brings more than 25 years of media experience at Cablevision and Rainbow Media and during his career was instrumental in the launching and managing of a number of cable television networks including 10 Regional Sports Networks across the US, American Movie Classics, Bravo, and the Independent film channel as well as the structuring of corporate partnerships with companies including Liberty Media, NBC, Fox/NewsCorp and MGM. Additionally, he was the finance lead on a number of professional sports team acquisitions including Madison Square Garden, the successful IPO of Cablevision and a tracking stock at Rainbow Media.Michael was involved in the creation and launch of Rainbow Advertising Sales which was one of the Cable Industry’s first Local Advertising Sales Divisions.

Tony Pascal

With over two decades of experience in the design, product, and technology space, Tony joined Digital Remedy as a graphic designer in 2007. His responsibilities quickly expanded, landing him in leadership roles across multiple disciplines including creative direction, analytics, monetization optimization, and management of platform development. He continued to grow with the organization over the last fourteen years, overseeing all design, development, and execution of Digital Remedy products and platforms. In his current role as SVP, Product & Technology, Tony leads product and technology development for the company and acts as the go-to liaison across teams, ensuring alignment on all aspects of internal and client-facing technology initiatives.

Prior to Digital Remedy, Tony built and ran his own direct response company from 2002-2007 after graduating from New York Institute of Technology, where he learned the fundamentals of digital advertising and optimization strategies that still remain relevant today.

In a previous life, Tony was a ski instructor and still remains an avid skier today. When he is not leading product development, he can be found working on old cars, rock climbing and hitting the slopes.

Gayle Meyers

Gayle Meyers is an entrepreneur, venture partner, investor, and operating resource in the digital media and marketing industry, with over two decades of executive leadership experience. After launching a management consulting firm, Growthing which is focused on optimizing growth strategies for executive leaders and their organizations, Meyers has frequently been tapped for high-profile consulting and advisory positions to help marketing technology companies enhance their in-market presence.

“Gayle is widely recognized as a leading strategist with years of expertise in the ad tech space,” said Mike Seiman, Chairman and CEO of Digital Remedy. “Her career in discovering and integrating game-changing technologies in the marketing industry will serve as an invaluable resource as we continue to enhance our product suite in the months ahead.”

With expertise spanning multiple disciplines, Meyers frequently serves as a keynote speaker at industry conferences for companies such as Google, Verizon, Omnicom, LiveRamp, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Oracle. A list of her notable past clients who have benefitted from her unique insights to increase shareholder value includes Tinuiti (acquired by New Mountain Capital), Adometry (acquired by Google), MediaForge (acquired by Rakuten), Integral Ad Science (acquired by Vista Equity Partners), and Tapad (acquired by Telenor).

2021 Industry Trends Newsletter

2021 Industry Trends Newsletter

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