Just five years ago, online shopping went like this:

Consumers crawl the web, read forums, and browse social media posts until they find a product they like. Next, they compare sellers using Google search to ensure they were getting a good deal before purchasing. Unsatisfied customers request return shipping labels. Then, trek to the post office to return the product. After waiting 7-10 days for a refund, they start the process all over again.

Some customers choose to skip the hassle by shopping in store, but it wasn’t always easier. Customers could spend all day searching different retail stores, hoping to find a great deal. Meanwhile, items in customers’ online carts would probably remain there, collecting digital dust, until they remembered to remove them.

There are several problems with this process:

  • The customer used broad research, including unreliable and unfavorable sources.
  • The brand had little control over the marketing funnel and what material the customer saw at each stage.
  • The checkout and return processes offered limited support and didn’t work together.
  • Online didn’t connect to offline experiences, forcing the customer to start from scratch when shopping in store.

The nation’s largest retailers are building new platforms to solve every problem on this list. The platforms improve the ability of advertisers to design appealing and relevant ads. Customers benefit the most because they receive personal and targeted ads and experience improved in-store shopping.

What are these platforms, how do they work, and how can brands make the most of them in their early stages?  Read this ebook to find out more!