Customers Will Shift From Marketplaces to D2C Stores Over Time

Ema Linaker interview

With customers wanting more control, Ema Linaker, Founder of BIB Inc LTD talks about how the brand-customer relationship is evolving, and about emerging technologies for the marketing function.

The relationship between brands and customers is characterised by a shift towards more direct interactions and engagements between brands and their customers. And one thing remains clear: the dynamics continue to evolve ceaselessly. 

Ema Linaker interview mug shotA noticeable trend emerges as consumers increasingly lean towards purchasing directly from brands’ own websites or brick-and-mortar stores, rather than relying on third-party marketplaces. This shift in consumer preferences has been steadily unfolding over the past few years, signifying a significant transformation in the way people choose to shop.

“I think provenance and quality will be key for customers moving forward. When customers buy directly from the brand, they are more likely to get a real product, which may make them feel safer and give them more peace of mind,” says Ema Linaker, Founder of BIB Inc LTD

Ema Linaker is a results-oriented executive with a proven track record in innovative marketing and communication strategies. Ema’s achievements include spearheading social strategies for major product launches, securing significant new business, and implementing cost-saving measures resulting in increased profitability. 

Her expertise in digital marketing has driven revenue growth and empowered teams to deliver integrated solutions for top-tier clients such as Coca-Cola, Samsung, and Mercedes-Benz. Ema is recognised for her ability to engage audiences, build high-level relationships, and deliver impactful results that exceed expectations.

Excerpts from the interview:

With customers wanting more control, how do you see the brand-customer relationship evolving?

The brand-customer relationship is always evolving – I don’t see that ever stopping. People will prefer to buy through the brand’s own website or physical stores rather than marketplaces.

Over the last few years, we have seen a consistent shift in the preferences of customers about their preferred choice of shopping. Over time, customers will be shifting from marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart to D2C brands’ web stores or physical stores.

I think provenance and quality will be key for customers moving forward. When customers buy directly from the brand, they are more likely to get a real product, which may make them feel safer and give them more peace of mind.

Personalised experiences need to be PERSONALISED. Customers are really becoming less tolerant of the false promise of personalisation and knowledge – just think of your own recent experiences. They’re getting worse in many industries like aviation, entertainment, sports not better. All industries, if they’re collecting all this data, they need to drill down into their customers’ needs and preferences and create tailored products and services that are more likely to be successful.

Additionally, personalisation helps build relationships with customers, since they feel that the brand is taking the time to provide a personalised experience just for them.

As a growth marketer, how do you change your approach towards clients depending on whether they are startups or a legacy brand?

For start-ups, growth is essential for survival. The competition is fierce, and you need to deploy the latest growth marketing strategies to elevate the new company to stand out from the crowd.

This is where growth marketing strategies come into play, a methodology used by some of the most successful start-ups in the game. 

For legacy clients, they tend to look at growth strategies when they want to reach new markets, new customer segments or introduce a new product line. This requires really understanding what has worked in the past, what their existing customer base likes about the brand, product etc and spring boarding the strategy from there.

Which emerging technologies are you most excited about for the marketing function?

Threads, TikTok, Bluesky are the new social media platforms I’ve invested a lot of time recently getting into and seeing what is working to date.

Adoption of chatbots and AI – with all of the hoo-hah around ChatGPT we need to really understand how these new technologies can help us get closer to the customer, scale customer support, expanding contact strategy dramatically with a controlled message, they offer the added benefit of being able to gather, analyse and provide actionable data that can be used to improve the customer experience.

Predictive data; smarter, scalable and more flexible datasets; edge computing for faster analysis; and hybrid computing that blends off-premises and on-premise cloud solutions. You’re also going to see growing use of machine learning-driven solutions that include augmented analytics; engineered decision analytics; and data visualisation for better decision-making, business management, and insights and automation.

What skills are most important for marketers to develop today to stay ahead of trends in marketing tech?

Soft skills are key – curiosity, the desire to try new things, to test, and to fail I think are must haves.

Passion for their craft and perhaps really leaning into specific niches within the huge spectrum of marketing disciplines that there are.

Leadership and human understanding of behaviour I think is mission critical. What makes people tick either in your team from a career internal perspective but more importantly from a consumer, client point of view.

Hard skills -look at your local/regional/national marketing qualifications, attend marketing courses either for your degree or as a postgraduate. An understanding of the fundamentals is still crucial and then you can go from there.

What impact has marketing technology had on metrics and KPIs?

Marketing Technology encompasses a wider variety of technology solutions that marketers use throughout the digital marketing process. Because of this, the impact has been tremendous and fundamental. You can’t ‘fudge’ it here.

You must work with senior leadership to understand what the specific goals and end results are. Ensuring you set goals or key performance indicators (KPIs) to create a clear path to success for all stakeholders. Mar-Tech offers you real-time business intelligence. This helps you identify which marketing KPIs you should be tracking and how each one directly impacts your business goals. It creates transparency between sales and marketing, unifying them in a shared purpose, meeting shared KPIs like:

  •       Marketing ROI
  •       Number of SQL
  •       Lead-to-Close Ratio
  •       Average Order Value
  •       Customer Lifetime Value
  •       Organic Traffic

Also Read: How Do You Grade Your Martech Stack?

What is the most common challenge for business leaders trying to navigate digital transformation?

The most common challenge is trying to do too much all at once. Because most digital transformation touches so many areas of your business.

The first issue is ensuring within the business itself you have talent that understands and operates in the new world in which we live. The impact of AI and new trends are key for employees to understand. Legacy systems that are being used in most big organisations are holding them back from moving to newer digital solutions.

Technologies in areas such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning have created many labour-saving devices. Automated teller machines, self-service checkouts, and online ordering are all examples of what has been accomplished with disruptive technology advancements over the last decade. There are skill shortages in these areas and organisations must provide an extensive plan to fill the gap.

Furthermore, your business model will need to take into consideration the digital change that is taking place. Further, tied into that the volume of digital data can be overwhelming at first for most businesses.

Data analysis, insight and action is not easy to operate within many more traditional places of work as it requires a deep understanding of the target audience and their needs. Add to that the increasingly complex regulatory environment and you must ensure you have the right counsel to guide you through tricky and complex issue.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is an example of a body that’s trying to address cross-border data protection. The GDPR protects the personal information of EU citizens but also governs businesses doing business within the EU. If your business doesn’t comply with this regulation, you could end up being on the receiving end of a significant fine!

Digital transformation success requires always investing in newly introduced digital technologies and digital solutions to support long term goals.

Some organisations are worried that the workplace will lose its foundations with the shift in technology. These fears may be justified, but they are unfounded if there is a commitment to developing both work and personal life balance and improving internal digital skills.