Unlocking the Potential of Retail Media: Overcoming Challenges and Embracing Inclusive Commerce

By Rebecca Fry, Managing eCommerce, Omnicom Media Group UK

With almost 80% of advertisers viewing it as their most effective sales channel, retail media is undeniably booming, and sales are expected to reach £22bn in the UK by 2026. This rapid growth has been fuelled by a multitude of factors including ever-evolving shopping habits, the number of retailers offering on- and off-site media placements, and the number of formats available.

However, with any rapidly growing channel, there are obstacles that emerge and must be navigated by brands, agencies and retailers. Doing this as an individual brand or agency may drive short-term success, but cross-brand, agency and industry collaboration is necessary to create the sustainable growth environment needed for brands to make retail media a key part of their business growth strategy.

But there are actionable strategies businesses can put in place to overcome some of the key barriers facing brands in commerce. Through a connected commerce approach to retail planning, we can ensure that overcoming these are at the forefront of the approach to drive best practice across the industry, ensuring that retail media is inclusive and accessible to all.

Challenge 1: Standardisation in measurement

As more retailers have entered the fold with a media offering, the disparity in standardisation across data availability and measurement has become increasingly apparent; even more so for omnichannel brands, selling across multiple channels and/or retailers. At OMG Transact (Omnicom Media Group’s dedicated retail media and commerce consultancy), we have been working with ISBA for the past 18 months to drive change across the industry, producing the Retail Media Standardisation Framework, which is in the process of being adopted by retailers and agencies across the industry and has just received the WFA President’s Award. Once scaled, it will provide an aligned and comparable way for brands and agencies to measure the impact of retail media, not just at the individual retailer level, but cross-channel and cross-retailer, ultimately enabling smarter and more consumer-led decisions for brands to supercharge growth.

Challenge 2: Segregated planning processes

Connected shopper journeys require connected media planning, and retail media needs to be considered as a channel in its own right. This goes far beyond activation – it needs to be evaluated alongside other more established channels at planning stage. This includes consideration of how the data that sits behind retail media can not only be used to inform retail media planning, but also broader channel planning. This requires Commerce and Media teams, within both brands and agencies, to be collaborating at every stage; for example, using holistic briefing templates, connected planning frameworks and integrated reporting.

Challenge 3: Increasingly blurred lines between channels

Consumers are shopping in an increasingly omnichannel way, with the evolution of social channels seeing them become retailers in their own right. This is established through integrated propositions (e.g. TikTok Shop), and the evolution of shopper motivations, ultimately resulting in the blurring of media channels driven via commerce.

Partnerships with social platforms, retailers and media owners are integral to facing this challenge – it enables companies to jointly shape product offerings, create exclusive BETA opportunities and ultimately, build commerce-led strategies that respond to the changing way consumers shop.

Challenge 4: Creating a commerce strategy that is inclusive for all

Consumer communities are becoming more diverse, and by understanding these nuances, brands can deliver authentic, enriching experiences that provide an inclusive approach to commerce strategy.

Firstly, it is key to ensure that a brand.com site is fully accessible. Ensuring keyboard navigation, alt text on images and supporting compatibility with user agents and assistive technologies allows every site visitor to interact with a brand, regardless of their individual needs or circumstances.

Agencies and brands should also make sure they consider a diverse breadth of search terms that are not just volume-led, but impact- and inclusion-led, for their retail media strategies. Retailers must ensure that inclusive browser navigation, considering the nuances of how consumers find their products, is enabled for every product.

Finally, making every media touchpoint shoppable and reducing friction is crucial. This is true for every shopper, but especially key for shoppers with additional accessibility needs, where a streamlined conversion journey, with fewer clicks, becomes even more imperative.

As the retail media landscape continues to grow and evolve, challenges will continue to present themselves for brands, agencies and retailers. Through collaboration in innovation, connection in planning and standardisation in measurement, as a collective we will continue to provide our shoppers with the most inclusive and efficient path to purchase.