C-store Retailers Struggle in Their Digital Marketing Capabilities

NATIONAL REPORT — The impact that digital innovations are having on communication and commerce between companies and consumers is becoming clearer every day. Most executives have likely sensed this shift was occurring for some time and envisioned a larger, more integrated role for digital within their company. In spite of this, many retailers are struggling to develop their digital marketing capabilities.

According to research conducted by Convenience Store News, Balvor LLC and Brick Meets Click, less than one in three retailers indicate that digital marketing — at least the way they’re leveraging it — is working well to support marketing strategies. Regardless of the number of digital media channels that each uses, this highlights a divide that many retailers need to bridge in order to connect objectives with outcomes.

Some may believe the problem is due to the complexity of the topic, confusion about the technology, or the constantly expanding array of choices. However, these are not the cause as the research reveals that the absence of strategy and internal processes are the primary culprits. The implication is that retailers will continue to face challenges in developing effective capabilities until these areas are addressed.

The presence of an effective corporate strategy helps to align resources vital for building capabilities, which is why retailers who have one are three times more likely to report that digital is working well to support their marketing strategies.

Strategy facilitates the allocation of money and people that are essential to creating processes such as planning, budgeting and managing, which collectively accomplish the objective. Having access to these resources is a key reason why retailers who possess a sound strategy are even more likely to have well-developed internal processes.

Some other findings from the research are:

  • Digital marketing requires new skills that most marketing teams didn’t possess before, and this will continue to evolve. Establishing and reassessing these roles and responsibilities is essential for identifying the skills gap, coordinating efforts and assigning accountability. 
  • More than half of convenience retailers are using digital without well-developed roles and responsibilities, and more than two-thirds of those lacking a sound strategy fall into this camp.
  • Budgeting is an important aspect of planning as it ensures resources are allocated to support the plan. Retailers with a sound strategy are more than three times as likely to have a well-developed approach to planning, illustrating why these retailers also report better performance.

Click here for more findings, published in the September issue of Convenience Store News