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Digital Marketing Term Paper


This college paper was willingly provided by an expert writer from WriteMyPaperHub where you can buy term papers online, written from scratch according to customer’s requirements. It explores how department and big-box stores have responded to the advent and eventual prevalence of digital marketing techniques. Many such stores appear to content themselves with current performance and wallow in their own ignorance of technology while such young upstarts as Amazon soar ahead to new sales records. This analysis first explores the available scholarly and commercial literature to develop an understanding of how department stores have traditionally positioned themselves with respect to marketing. It then examines the essential elements of digital marketing campaigns and explores their amenability to implementation within the more staid infrastructures of these retail establishments. The advantages and disadvantages of various electronic marketing avenues are explored, and provisional advice governs whether and how department stores can make more judicious use of big data analytics than do the overeager and immature e-commerce juggernauts. Recommendations are proffered by which department stores can rally their inherent human capital advantages over e-commerce upstarts to achieve rapid headway into the world of digital marketing. Finally, reserved conclusions are drawn about the capability of department stores to catch up with their competition, cleverly marshaling their advantages while minimizing their deficiencies, in order better to survive in the brave new world of twenty-first-century commerce.

The purpose of this research paper is to explore how retail department stores are or are not keeping up with the remainder of the commercial world in terms of their digital marketing overtures and initiatives. By digital marketing, we mean the sum total of marketing and sales techniques that take advantage of the growing electronic infrastructure provided around us by smartphones, the Internet, and World Wide Web (WWW), and all its associated trappings, such as social media and blogs.

Department stores represent a traditional shopping venue that is still of primary importance to many shoppers, particularly older ones who have not “caught the wave” of the Internet revolution and therefore go through their lives without benefit of any electronic or computerized safety net, so to speak. Moreover, department stores have classically considered themselves immune to many downward trends in the retail industry (“5 Recession,” 2018), primarily because they have traditionally served as such convenient, centralized repositories of such huge arrays of goods that, should a slowdown be evidenced in one area, it may theoretically be compensated for by acceleration in another area that is the provenance of another department located down the hall or upstairs.

The question is worth exploring for a number of reasons. First, it is beyond question that the Internet in general and e-commerce and specific have overtaken the world by storm. Although it took such e-tailers as Amazon a long time to become profitable, they have achieved such wealth, power, and influence that they seem to be symbols of an altogether new age of shopping. The mom and pop store, by way of extreme contrast, continues to hang on by its fingernails because of its convenience to neighborhood clients and the pleasant diversion of speaking to a friendly face (Morris, 2017). Those stores that find themselves solidly in between—with one foot in both universes, the established world of catalog sales and glad-handing salesmen and the brave new world of e-commerce—are the retail department stores and allied big box stores that, while they may not be considered department stores per se, are undeniably of the same feather.

We aim specifically to explore the organizational and technological challenges that face department stores as they strive to survive within a rapidly changing retail climate. One suspects that much of the reason for why department stores have been slow to adopt new technology is that they have been unchallenged leaders in their fields for a very long time, in some cases for more than a century. It is always difficult for an established leader to recognize the signs of its imminent downfall, and even more so when the technological landscape is now permitting, even encouraging, bold new upstarts to venture into both new and established markets by virtue of the ease and convenience of e-commerce. In particular, those newcomers who are particularly adept at the new communication paradigms, most particularly social media, find themselves at a distinct advantage over those firms that, having been asleep at the switch for even a relatively short time, now find themselves falling seriously behind the power curve.

This term paper begins with a comprehensive literature review that seeks to develop an understanding of the new techniques of digital marketing, of their applicability within various retail sales contexts, and of how department stores may best be able to position themselves to take advantage of these techniques before they find themselves going the way of the dinosaurs. The literature review is followed by a brief discussion of our applicable methodology, which is primarily to learn from the published work of prior experts and seek to adduce practicable and actionable advice for retail department stores. The results of the analysis are then presented and analyzed in the hopes of either discovering material that has been given short shrift or synthesizing altogether new approaches. Finally, conclusions and lessons learned are proffered.

Literature Review
Various experts have widely conflicting opinions about the essential elements of marketing. Consequently, they differ in their interpretations of the problems faced by retail establishments that are either in the throes of implementing their own online operations or must compete directly with organizations that have fully online presences and have abandoned the bricks-and-mortar ideology. It is likely the case that the differing viewpoints also derive from the broadly varying educational and working experiences that these consultative experts bring to the table in their efforts to understand a phenomenon which is even now in the process of unfolding before us as we strive to determine what it even means to shop in the twenty-first century.

FractL (n.d.) begins by noting that the biggest box stores vary dramatically in the manner in which they choose to devote their marketing budgets to digital pursuits. He notes that Amazon managed to bring in more revenue than the top ten box stores and department stores combined, which include Walmart, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Gap, Williams-Sonoma, Kohl’s, and Sears. He assumes without the strictest of evidence that their digital sales are directly correlated to their digital marketing efforts, presenting the following graphic comparing their relative successes in this vein:

Moreover, industry experts now estimate that a full 22 percent of retail sales are now conducted over the Internet, capping an astonishing upswing that continues to forge ahead unimpeded:

ETail (2019) has determined that a variety of challenges are facing traditional retailers such as department stores. Among these are five principal challenges. The first is that customers are opting for multi-channel buying experiences. Insofar as more as ever more comprehensive e-retail experiences are coming online and shipping times are continuing to be reduced, 96 percent of Americans are coming to rely upon online shopping. Nevertheless, it is true that these Americans only spend about 35 percent of their budget shopping online, expending the other 65 percent in traditional brick-and-mortar locations. Customers seek to move seamlessly between online and offline experiences and therefore are most attracted by those retailers who can support these kinds of transitions. Sachdeva and Goel (2015) agree that the practice of showrooming—where consumers view a product in the store and eventually complete the purchase online—is becoming more prevalent than ever. The other side of the coin is that orders placed online can be shipped to local stores for ultimate delivery to the consumer, further narrowing the divide between online and offline retail. The solution may be to focus on creating an overwhelmingly superior customer experience across all available channels, fulfilling customers’ desires for retailers whom they can trust for exceptional service and exceptional fulfillment time. It should be noted that the availability of the right type of customer data can help these retailers to fashion an omnichannel experience that enables consumers to interact in whatever move they choose by incorporating their real-time feedback across all devices and channels. Zhang et al. (2010) second the importance of establishing such an omnichannel customer experience.

The second concern is that customers expect a seamless shopping experience. When customers are on the cusp of transitioning between the bricks-and-mortar and online experience, they not only demand that identical products be available, the also insist that their shopping experiences be seamless. This means that a regular online customer chooses to be treated like a regular physical customer if he chooses to visit a bricks-and-mortar location. Analogously, if he completed an online purchase earlier, he expects the in-store systems immediately to have a record of this fact so that in-store personnel can hit the ground running. By creating this type of fluid online/offline experience, retailers face the possibility of no longer pitting their individual channels against one another. Again, the availability of centralized customer data assists in the construction of this fluid experience, beginning with the maintenance of customer profiles that are broadly and readily accessible. Loyalty programs may be useful by enabling the collection of information that may be deemed relevant and its use in variegated productive manners. Not only is a loyalty program useful for rewarding individual customers. Indeed, it is capable of integrating data culled from a variety of interaction points—whether online, in-store, or based upon home visits of service technicians—and thereby delivering relevant content regardless of context. Once again, the objective here is the establishment of an integrated, omnichannel, uniform shopping experience.

A third concern is that retailers need to establish an experience that somehow stands out. There is little doubt that customer experience is the most significant contributor to brand loyalty. In fact, a negative experience constitutes the single most critical factor that may discourage a customer from paying a repeat visit to a retail establishment. It must be borne in mind that retail customers are also commonly service professionals who must support their own customers, meaning that they expect to feel important when they find themselves on the other side of the counter, so to speak (Tabasum et al., 2014). Although offers and promotions can contribute toward the feeling of being special, the signal key to an outstanding retail experience is the personalization of the effort. The retailer must get to know the customer based upon his previous purchases and presumable interests, which can help retailers in driving loyalty. Such insights can be obtained from means as simple as conversation, not necessarily relying upon ornate data analytics. The size of the business will likely inform the choice of such methods, since more floor personnel are necessary to conduct personal interviews, while more data processing personnel are mandatory to support ongoing data analytics initiatives. The resultant personalized content and offers can be delivered by whichever contact channel the customer prefers. Note that something as simple as a personalized subject line in an e-mail can constitute a discriminator.

Customers want to feel that their wants and needs have been anticipated and that they are being gently and competently guided down the sales funnel, so to speak, to arrive at their next purchase point.

ETail’s fourth issue is that the maintenance of a siloed marketing infrastructure makes it extremely difficult for a retailer to get its message across, not to mention expensive, as Abedalla (2014) affirms. Modern marketing techniques insist that businesses engage with customers across a huge variety of channels. Whether the choice is Web, social media, e-mail, or SMS, multichannel communications are paramount to creating the feeling of engagement that drives the customer toward the perception of a perfect shopping experience. Unfortunately, given so many separate channels, it is easy for customer information to wind up siloed. For example, if the various components of a marketing department fail to work together efficiently, the resulting volume of conflicting messages can become altogether overwhelming. The sense that the customer is being assaulted with unfocused communication can readily have the effect of driving customers away toward a competitor who appears to have a more focused message. Obviously, it is easier to ensure that the entire marketing organization is unified in its approach if suitable technology and communication practices are adhered to. Specifically, having a clear marketing and marketing communication strategy will ensure that all channels interoperate rather than compete, thereby delivering savings in both time and expenditure. Rathnayaka (2018) notes the success of such a philosophy within the retail fashion industry.

A fifth concern is that, while a broad array of technologies are available for driving marketing and sales, they often appear to be working against one another. The amount of data that businesses gather in order to keep tabs on their customers’ habits is growing at a strong rate. However, the volume of professional staff able to analyze this data is not growing appreciably, as Maurer (2018) reports. It is difficult, then, to ensure that all of the gathered data is being correctly used and analyzed rather than merely contributing to the silo problem. This means that the retailer must identify a technology solution that is not only capable of handling the copious data being gathered and generated, but also ensuring that the results are focused in the optimal direction, facilitating rather than overwhelming marketing overtures. The role of the data scientist in marketing is only going to increase, so it is paramount to make use of available human capital to create an omnichannel experience that is truly unified and streamlined.

Alexander (n.d.) perceives a largely orthogonal set of problems. He admits, as does ETail (2019), to the importance of omnichannel integration, but interprets the matter in a rather different way. He recognizes that omnichannel integration is about meeting the customer on all possible playing fields in a level manner. The retailer must come to recognize the difference between customers window-shopping in person so that they can examine goods firsthand and then later choosing to complete those purchases online. The problem with assuming that the two are integrated is that so many retailers continue to operate legacy computer systems that integrate poorly, if at all, with modern technology choices. This means that, even if they support websites and mobile applications, they often fail to communicate with headquarters legacy systems and thereby offer scant support. Making omnichannel marketing successful requires that retailers find a way to integrate inventory and product demand, both online and offline, in a seamless manner (Gallino & Moreno, 2012).

Employee productivity is another problem that he notes. Employee productivity has always been an issue across all industries, but it has become a signal challenge in the modern sales and marketing environment, as Coppersmith (2019) avers. The essential problem is that employers are continually striving to achieve more goals with fewer persons and tools. This requires employees to assume greater responsibilities and, in some cases, perform what was once regarded as the work of two or even three individuals. Management must engage more fully with its employees to come to understand the problems that they face in completing their assigned tasks given the tools and avenues at their disposal. Otherwise, individual employees become liabilities to the organization that must individually be addressed rather than assets that can be conveniently managed according to team paradigms.

Inventory management is another critical issue for the would-be omnichannel retailer. If products are to be sold both in stores and online, inventory management must be up-to-the-minute in order to ensure that orders are efficiently fulfilled and to minimize the volume of customer complaints that derive from purely logistical concerns. Legacy systems that fail fully to integrate with their digital peers are a key deficiency here, since they are often unable to maintain inventory across all physical locations and online sites. Retailers are advised to maintain distribution centers that are specifically dedicated to the fulfillment of online orders. Moreover, they are encouraged to view inventory for online orders as fully separate from inventory on hand at or en route to bricks-and-mortar locations.

Price transparency is another issue brought up. Pricing traditionally varies widely across store locations based upon what may be considered average or, for that matter, tolerable for the indicated region. However, given the advent of omnichannel buying, customers now have access to a tremendous range of offerors and products, so it is mandatory that pricing be consistent from online to offline locations. In fact, if pricing differences are evident, customers will automatically be driven to less expensive alternatives or, for that matter, to competitors who seem to have better handles on their pricing structures, as Swartz (2016) affirms.

Retailers are encouraged to devote particular resources to the chase after the millennial market. The newest generation has proven to be the most difficult for retailers to understand. It is ironic that, while millennials are strongly focused on technology and therefore fully comfortable shopping online and through smartphones, they also tend to be more attracted to experiences than to products. Consequently, a sea change in marketing that abandons traditional models is necessarily suited to the chase after millennials’ dollars. Retailers obviously require a strong online presence in order that millennials take them seriously. At the same time, this does not mean that retailers can feel free to abandon other generations. They are encouraged to make sure that online experiences are so orchestrated that they are comfortable for customers of all ages, notwithstanding the overall tenor of the experience must be perceived as particularly hip to its most savage critic, the millennial consumer.

Sutton (2019) writes about a completely orthogonal set of problems faced by prospective online retailers. The first is that of remaining over-leveraged in assets that are underutilized. When larger retailers acquire too much floor space and too much debt, they end up spreading themselves thin in a variety of ways. The physical possession of a broad set of assets can be quite advantageous for a brand that is growing. Unfortunately, leadership typically fails to perceive the downside of this growth pattern until it is too late. When retailers have physical assets that they may not be using—including physical assets, such as individual store departments, that are underperforming—they are best advised to consider offloading them unless they can directly identify a more effective means to utilize them toward the amelioration of the brand. Unfortunately, some retailers feel the need to hold onto everything that they have acquired. If this is the case, the retailer is urged to try to reevaluate those assets and determine how best they can be used to improve the customer experience and to expand the reach of the brand.

A second critical problem, also called to mind by Johnson (2018), is that of losing the human touch. While it is obviously true that the shopping landscape has been utterly transformed over the past quarter-century, a great deal of the traditional familiarity and homey warmth has been sacrificed. What used to serve as a social focus where relationships between vendors and customers were affirmed with every dollar spent has now been sacrificed in the interest of efficiency. Brick and mortar is therefore still highly attractive to some. Trying to achieve greater efficiency by deemphasizing customer service can lead to an unsatisfactorily vapid retail experience. It is only possible to revitalize this experience if the choice of digital platforms is made creatively and judiciously.

A third issue is what may be termed inauthentic, or even interruptive, marketing. Magazine and billboard advertising was of a uniformly transactional and persuasive nature before the Internet was widely available. Although some of it was found to be effective, most of it rang untrue or simply intrusive. The same marketing ideas that were broadly lampooned in times past have, unfortunately, more often than not directly been transferred online, taking the new physical form of popup ads. Digital technology does indeed offer bountiful possibilities for crafting a great story and promoting it broadly. Unfortunately, creative branding too often sits on the sidelines while retailers seek the easy way out, which is often to post a bunch of ads without much forethought and move on to greener pastures. Retailers too often fail to recognize that what turns them off personally is likely to dispirit and deject their customers as well, rendering such advertising campaigns entirely moot.

Another issue is that customers may tune out those marketing channels that they find interruptive, such as popup ads. As a result, it becomes ever more difficult for even a well-crafted branding picture to distinguish itself among the clamor and din. The general attitude that most customers harbor about marketing is that it imposes on their time. Unfortunately, one cannot fail but endorse this sentiment when they must be faced by online advertisements all day long. If one interrupts and molests customers, one will find oneself becoming blocked, as a result of which that channel is lost for all time. Retailers must aim higher, targeting their customers as the heroes of their brands.

A further difficulty is that retailers end up unwittingly stoking the fires of fear over data security and confidentiality, as Tammany (2017) confirms. Recent scandals among major social media players have made it clear that companies choosing to exploit user data can go altogether too far. In general, it is as pointless as it is offensive for some algorithm to pick up on a recent purchase and immediately inundate you with ads for similar products. Consumer advocacy groups rightfully voice widespread and growing concerns over data security. Retailers must aim to treat their data with more sense and sensitivity and avoid feeding such fears. They can likely do this by treating their consumer data intelligently, subtly, and effectively.

Standberry (2017) evaluates the problems that retailers face from a more general perspective, first exploring the underpinnings that justify—or, for that matter, fail to justify—the segue into digital marketing as these retailers reevaluate their business posture in the modern world. He first notes that digital marketing is capable of altogether transforming both how customers are dealt with and how they perceive the resultant shopping experience. At the same time, he asserts that digital marketing tactics offer the most cost-effective way to market a twenty-first-century business. Within traditional marketing venues, smaller businesses with limited budgets necessarily find it more difficult to complete for advertising space. By way of contrast, digital marketing tactics offer far more bang for the buck. Moreover, while traditional marketing tactics can often engender a variety of hidden costs, as Hardy (2017) affirms, digital marketing merely requires the investment of time. Judicious application of pay-per-click, display, and social media advertising are capable, albeit, of delivering results with considerable speed, even if traditional content marketing and search engine optimization require more time to take root.

Digital marketing is also the most measurable form. It can be difficult to track the success of a traditional marketing campaign, especially if it takes time to percolate, whereas every digital technique has associated metrics. The retailer can readily monitor which campaigns are or are not proving successful and attendantly modulate the strategy based upon the insights so gained. For example, a series of social media posts released over a certain period of time can accurately be tracked via social media analytics in order to gauge their dissemination and effectiveness among the target demographic. These types of analytics permit the retailer to use his resources with great effectiveness and attendantly allocate his marketing budget. Moreover, they remove the guesswork over what does and does not succeed, making it possible both to avoid unnecessarily expenditure and to refocus efforts on strategies that appear to be the most promising. Website analytics enable one to determine how many visitors came to the site, which pages they viewed, and how long they perused each one. It also reveals peak traffic times and days and enables one to track conversion rates. All of these data constitute important fodder for the gradual improvement of the quality of marketing campaigns. Zanette et al. (2013) report that similar advice applies for blog posts that are prepared as part of a digital marketing strategy. Assume that the retailer wishes to determine whether to continue in the current vein or shift focus to new topics. By checking the blog analytics, the retailer can readily determine how many readers there are, how many take the desired next steps, and how many ultimately convert.

Digital marketing permits the retailer to target his ideal audience. Purchasing advertising space often takes a “shot in the dark” over whether the intended demographic will see the advertisement. By way of contrast, appropriately managed SEO makes it possible specifically to target those consumers who seek the topics and content that are relevant to the retail business. Improving targeting permits facilitated management of the marketing organization and alleviates concern over money wasted on unproductive channels. Retailers must recognize that many buyers now begin their purchasing journeys online. Standberry asserts that 93 percent of online shopping experiences begin with a search engine such as Google. Retailers thereby enjoy a wonderful opportunity to engage with and educate prospective customers at the beginning stages of the purchase cycle. The creation of engaging and relevant search engine content serves to increase online visibility and tailor the brand toward those customers who are most able to keep it afloat. At the same time, digital marketing is also critical to tailor to customers who browse and consume digital content on mobile devices such as smartphones, as Meyer (2017) reports. Recent statistics indicate that more than half of online users browse the web from a smartphone. Digital marketing helps the retailer reach prospective consumers who are using this widely distributed new platform.

Digital marketing levels the playing field between the bricks-and-mortar retailer and the fully online retailer. As such, it enables the former to become far more competitive while still offering certain discriminating customers that personal touch. It is often the case that smaller businesses that adhere to the bricks-and-mortar model lack the resources to compete with online juggernauts. Yet, digital marketing helps the smaller brands remain competitively abreast. For relatively low financial outlay, retailers can even market their products and services nationally or internationally and thus possibly attract altogether new audiences.

PRIMIR (2015) reports that a number of department stores have begun to embrace online sales. However, stores with different specialties have targeted disparate means of digital marketing. Clothing retailers, for example, have been investing in fortified websites and in mobile smartphone apps. Apparel companies largely see their bricks-and-mortar stores as distribution centers that enable online orders facilely to be filled from on-hand inventory. They have been increasingly relying upon direct e-mail, social media, and online rewards programs, albeit each retailer’s individual mix reflects its specific target market and choice of respective image. For example, few clothing retailers rely upon circulars, opting instead for e-catalogs. These can readily be integrated with e-mail sales campaigns. These retailers view the catalog channel as a natural extension of the store. Yet, in contrast to notions presented earlier of the criticality of the millennial demographic, clothing retailers have found that in-store tactics have the most impact upon young shoppers’ purchase decisions. This has not discouraged the industry from devoting more than $1 billion annually to mobile advertising.

Sporting goods and hobby stores are another sector that is gradually moving toward the digital marketing model. As a sector, they expect e-commerce to account for only one-fifth of their sales, however. They principally focus on improving their omnichannel platforms and also place credence in Facebook advertisements. One sporting goods chain that eliminated printed circulars in favor of electronic ones reported a twelve-percent increase in in-store sales. The impact of e-commerce is moving many vendors within the sector to eliminate catalog distribution altogether.

The approach undertaken in this research paper is to rely primarily upon the literature review as the workhorse of the discovery and exposition process. A broad array of experts in sales, marketing, and computer technology have kept their fingers on the pulse of the retail industry as it has seen itself transformed by the introduction of the World Wide Web and the attendant proliferation of numerous new and convenient ways of both soliciting and conducting business.

The first question that we seek to answer is whether retail businesses have taken the proper steps to assure their survival in the current e-business climate. This is a function not only of their own actions or inactions, but of concomitant actions and inactions by others who may be more technologically savvy. We examine what various experts have determined in order to understand the essential point of whether department stores and other big-box establishments can survive or if, rather, they have so pointedly missed the curve that it is all but inevitable that they will crash and be supplanted by the likes of Amazon and future players who are now both unknown and unknowable.

The second question to be answered is what techniques department stores may avail themselves of in order to catch up with the wave that may or may not largely have passed them by. These techniques represent a confluence of marketing, management, and technological knowledge applied to the ministration of corporate resources in a manner that judiciously and leanly refocuses them in order to solve the specific problem at hand. That problem is the sudden and abrupt reorientation of these firms’ marketing focus to invest attention in marketing avenues that they had, for the most part, traditionally ignored in the manner of the proverbial ostrich keeping its head safely planted in the sand while the world passes it by.
The limitations upon our analysis are imposed by the accuracy of our sources. We have striven to choose academically suitable sources wherever possible. At the same time, it must be recognized that ivory tower academicians can often “miss the boat” from the pragmatic point of view. To this end, we also consult the worlds of reputable experts and consultants in e-commerce and digital marketing who have been involved in the growth of both parallel industries since their inception rather than passively watching and evaluating them from a detached, professorial stance.

Findings and Analysis
Department stores and big-box stores have evidenced widely variable responses to the advent of the digital marketing revolution. While some have recognized the potential impact of digital marketing, others have been slow to jump on the bandwagon. A review of the graphic posted at the beginning of the literature review makes it clear how disparately the spectrum of large retailers has chosen to respond to technological and socioeconomic developments.

The common thread that emerges from examining the department stores’ responses to recent waves is that, while they have largely seen fit to abandon certain outdated practices, they have been quite slow to embrace the most advantageous new technologies. For example, the notion of the comprehensive catalog distributed by mail is all but obsolete, essentially replaced by electronic circulars. However, for the most part, the larger retail establishments have been slow to embrace social media and slow to recognize the fact that many persons now view their shopping experience as a hybrid of in-store perusal of goods and at-home electronic purchase.

One may ask why a retailer like Amazon, which obviously does not offer any showrooms, does not apparently suffer from the fact that customers are unable to examine its goods in person before making purchase decisions. One opines that this is an artifact of the timeframe in which Amazon was established and the paradigm that it concomitantly embraced. Users who grew up with Amazon knew from the outset that there were no physical branches to visit. Therefore, they moderated their expectations of in-store visits where they would be pampered by doting salesmen. The outcome and the resultant revenues were results of expectations rather than deficiencies of early design and conception.

Numerous techniques are available to the department stores by which they may increase their electronic visibility and their attendant attractiveness to more technologically savvy consumers. They can rely upon various social media channels to advertise specials. They can post blogs in various fields of interest in order to solicit past and prospective consumers to demonstrate interest and perhaps be resultantly attracted to forthcoming sales offers. They can also take advantage of the copious big data that the major electronic storefronts and search engines gather so that they can better target their marketing activities. The last of these is the most important because, with their traditional orientation toward customer service, it seems that the department stores—if they chose to devote the effort—could do a far better job of data analytics. Amazon, Google, and the like apply data analytics in a fairly brainless way. For example, if one has just purchased an expensive pair of tennis shoes, they will quite literally cloy the user at every turn with popup ads for running shoes. This is not only annoying, but also inane. While it demonstrates awareness of purchasing patterns, it demonstrates zero understanding of the fact that the purchase of an item does not necessarily herald the imminent purchase of a second of the same kind. Indeed, careful thought has to be devoted to different classes of goods. This would be far superior to the one-size-fits-all approach that the large e-tailers seem willy-nilly to apply, apparently so caught up in the technical brilliance of their algorithms that they fail to perceive their utter lack of common sense.

One concludes that the big-box retailers have a realistic chance to resurrect their flagging fortunes if they can grab the bull by the horns and devote copious attention to the new wave of digital marketing. These retailers possess a key advantage over their electronic upstart competitors, namely, their decades’ worth of business experience and their attendant understanding of purchase patterns. While they lack the technological command of an Amazon, technically proficient personnel can be purchased. At the same time, these organizations possess the conservatism that enables them to take a measured approach to understanding the exact nature of the relationship between marketing and sales and so do a far better job of targeting popup ads than the knee-jerk job being done by the leading e-tailers.

It must be noted that the full understanding of how millennials shop continues to evade analysts. Once again, given their duration of experience dealing with real shoppers across a wide variety of markets and time periods, the department stores are in a stronger position than are upstart e-tailers to tackle the problem with maturity, fortitude, and grace.

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