SalesTech Star

The End Of Third-Party Cookies And The Need To Protect Pandemic Gains

By Andy McNab, VP EMEA, Fanplayr

Andy McNab, VP EMEA, Fanplayr shares a few predictions on the state of online retail for 2022


The end of third-party cookies and a scramble for solutions

The next 12 months will be when online retailers, brands and advertising agencies get ready for the postponed death of third-party cookies. Originally planned for 2022 and now scheduled for 2023, this will be a huge event. We can expect to see a scramble as companies realise they no longer have access to the data they currently use to target adverts and to personalise interactions with consumers visiting their websites.

Firefox and Apple have already banned third-party cookies and in 2023, the dominant player Google will follow suit. Driven by concerns about privacy legislation, Google will no longer permit cookies that track website visitors across the internet.

As companies realise a vital source of customer data is drying up, 2022 will see them seek solutions. There will be increasing focus on first-party data from a website’s own cookies which track what consumers do during a visit. Companies using AI-driven behavioural analytics with this data can learn a huge amount, segmenting visitors accurately to enable real-time interactions that are highly personalised and hit the target in terms of revenue-generation.

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A renewed emphasis on personalisation

Lockdowns compelled many people to spend more time online than they ever did before. This exposed the poor level of personalisation on commercial websites, whether aimed at consumers or potential clients and business partners. All too frequently web visitors are simply irritated by constant pop-up requests to subscribe to alerts, notifications or newsletters that fail to recognise them. These businesses treat everyone in the same way, with only the odd futile gesture at personalisation.

Once companies conduct real analysis of user experience, they will see they have to iron out the creases that irritate consumers. It is a matter of self-interest, because significant business is lost this way. Crudely automated data-harvesting or web interaction technology should be retired. As 2022 progresses, organisations are also likely to think more closely about how they personalise communication with consumers through SMS, email and notifications, and the content they use. There is a major upside to getting all this right.

Tough targets to protect online pandemic gains

The pandemic has proved to be a golden period for eCommerce. In the UK online retail grew five-fold in 2020, with Statista reporting that in February this year, 75% of UK shoppers said they had been shopping more online. Some forecasters believe this shift to online could see the UK becoming the first European country where online clothing sales outrun their in-store equivalents during 2022.

What is certain is that in 2022, online businesses that experienced big increases during the pandemic will set their sales and marketing departments tough targets in a bid to protect the gains they have made. Retaining customers will be a high priority, which could be difficult in some sectors where we already see reports of increased footfall in stores and retail locations.

Turmoil caused by a shortage of tech people

Skills shortages that were much-publicised this year will certainly continue into 2022, particularly in online commerce. There is nothing new about a shortage of data professionals but for the retail sector this could be particularly acute if skilled data professionals depart for higher salaries at the big systems integrators, cloud vendors, business application creators and so on.

Greater emphasis on training and development is necessary but will not solve the short-term challenges for brands and retailers seeking to innovate, use analytics and AI applications to maximise revenues online through more effective interaction with consumers. The next 12 months is likely to see greater realisation that brands and retail organisations need specialist third-party expertise to help them remain competitive in the face of continuing skills shortages.

Supply chain problems will put emphasis on pipeline-building

Since supply chain problems are set to continue in many sectors into 2022, the emphasis for many organisations will be on maintaining a pipeline of customers. It is important for marketing to redouble its initiatives to create a feel-good factor and keep customers engaged or offer relevant alternatives.

A sector such as automotive that is heavily affected by component shortages will need to ensure customers are kept informed about delays. While customers will be more patient about buying a car than they are about buying trousers or a desk lamp, automotive brands still need to move people along the sales funnel, signing them up for test drives and encouraging them to build a specification and make the first financial commitment. For less considered purchases, online retailers will need effective recommendation engines to offer alternatives that match what individual consumers want.

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