With economy unstable, retail marketers prioritize retention, CX and pulling back on social in 2023

by | Feb 1, 2023 | Public Relations

After the pandemic created two years of uncertainty, retailers entered 2022 with a positive outlook and expectations of growth. But numerous challenges, including inflation and interest rate hikes, kept that positivity in check throughout the year. And although the pandemic-era’s pressing issues seem to be under control, 2023 is set to bring about more economic-driven challenges for marketers, new research from retail marketing community CommerceNext and digital commerce network CommX asserts.

For their latest benchmark report on growth, risk and strategy, 2023 Digital Trends & Investment Priorities, the firms surveyed digital marketing and ecommerce executives spanning various retail models and annual sales volume. According to the survey, reduced consumer spending, lack of investment dollars and ad-targeting capabilities are the biggest impediments to retailers achieving their 2023 revenue goals.

Nearly half (45 percent) of respondents projected flat to single-digit growth this year and 11 percent projected negative growth

While 85 percent of retailers polled in 2021 expected double-digit growth in 2022, the reality was 42 percent of retail respondents in December 2022 reported flat or declined sales in 2022. As a result, marketers will have to continue to rely on retention as their main strategy for driving revenue, and are focusing less on social.

“Retailers are starting off the new year with a realistic understanding of the slowing online growth and, in several cases, online sales declines they’ll be facing in 2023,” said Veronika Sonsev, co-founder of CommerceNext, in a news release. “In response to this reality, marketing leaders will concentrate their resources into refining and improving their current customer experiences rather than investing into new technologies.”

Retailers are planning to move away from paid social and seek alternative marketing channels

Nearly four in 10 report retention (38 percent) and acquisition (37 percent) as the biggest drivers for their performance and growth in 2023. Email, SMS, and loyalty will get the largest share of investment within retention. Search continues to be a top focus on the acquisition side, and although social ranks second, KPI performance rapidly declined this year for a majority (68 percent) of respondents, with 66 percent and 46 percent planning to pull back spending on Facebook and Instagram, respectively.

“It is great to see brands and retailers focused on personalization and optimization of their commerce experiences and digital marketing efforts in 2023,” said Brian Walker, chief strategy officer at Bloomreach, a CommX founding member, in the release. “This report gives merchants and marketers the data they need to ensure their organizations stay competitive and maximize ROI and growth in a challenging environment. It is a must read in my opinion.”

Download the full report here.

Between November 3 and December 5, 2022, CommerceNext surveyed 108 digital marketing and ecommerce executives spanning various retail models and annual sales volume.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter