March 21, 2023

5 Steps to Simplify Your Fashion and Retail Martech Stack

Reading time about 7 min

You no doubt know the increasing complexity of modern marketing technology all too well. It’s all due to the world — and fashion and retail in particular — becoming more complex by the second. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Find out how to simplify your martech stack now.

Have a guess how many martech tools exist nowadays. Hundreds, thousands? The answer is almost ten thousand, 9,832 to be exact — and, of course, more are launching every day. Between 2012 and 2022, the number rose from 350 to where we are today — a growth of 2,738%. This evolution is driven by the emergence of new channels, higher customer expectations, shifting working styles, remote work, and other factors.

There’s also another number to consider, though: 42% — that’s the extent to which marketers are currently utilising their martech capabilities, according to research from Gartner. And, this number dropped from 58% in 2020. So, if you ever felt that your technology isn’t really doing its job, you’re right. Instead of helping you do yours, often enough, it actively hampers you.

Additionally, marketers now have less planning security than ever before and are often required to act quickly due to the world’s growing unpredictability — both in general and in specific industries, such as fashion and retail. Trends are evolving across a variety of channels, due to global developments — just think of the surge in athleisure and loungewear following the COVID-19 lockdowns — celebrities, influencers, and bloggers, as well as new D2C competition.

The latter, in particular, is putting pressure on established brands as they interact directly with consumers in an effort to build deeper relationships. Moreover, all their marketing efforts, including their tool stack, are directed at communicating with and engaging their target audiences. In established companies, in contrast, martech stacks have typically grown gradually over the years, often without an overarching and integrated strategy.

As a result, they find themselves faced with a collection of complex, often expensive tools comprising functions they only partially use, which do not work together properly, and generally make their life more difficult. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. In fact, it only takes five easy steps to clean up your martech stack and make it more efficient.

1. Audit Your Current Stack

Before you start blindly cutting your tool stack left and right, or even adding new tools to the mix, you first need an accurate overview of your current martech stack. This includes all tools, their capabilities — whether they’re in use or not — and if and how they’re integrated. While this step will probably be rather time-consuming and laborious, it is also the most crucial.

It may help you spot functional gaps you were unaware of or reveal that you are paying for multiple platforms with similar functionality. And be sure to include your team in this process; even if you don’t understand the need for a particular tool, it might be essential for your team members. 

Ask yourselves what you need to be reporting on, what additional data is helpful for you and your business, and how you measure the success of your campaigns and other marketing measures. Do you actually have (custom) dashboards that visualize all this data at a glance? Or do you have too many dashboards and can make no sense of them anymore? And where does your data live, spread across isolated silos or flowing seamlessly together in a central location?

These kinds of questions can help you figure out the ROI for each of your tools. In addition, you should look at their potential — are they, for example, continuously updated, with new features added as the marketing environment changes?

2. Define Your Core Platforms

There are several approaches to building a martech stack: best-of-breed, single provider, or best-of-suite. So far, you’ve likely followed the first one, whether consciously or not, choosing the best solution for a specific task. The result of this is the piecemeal collection of tools you dissected in the first step.

The second option also has significant drawbacks — very few vendors can provide a full end-to-end solution that fits all your needs and vendor lock-in can become a real problem.

The best-of-suite approach is a compromise between the other two and your best bet for a less complicated martech stack. Here, you’re building your martech stack mostly around key providers adding critical best-of-breed solutions that fulfil specific marketing needs. This allows you to be flexible and change your set-up as needed, and this approach also is more cost-effective than the others. In order to do so, you need to define what your core platforms should be, of course in alignment with your business goals as well as your customers’ needs and expectations. 

3. Consolidate Where Possible

If you know which platforms you want your martech stack to be built around, you can start eliminating — or rather consolidating — your tools. You should especially try to minimize the number of standalone tools as they open up possibilities for bad integrations or ineffective workflows. Implementing more versatile solutions will also bring your costs down in the long term as not only will you need fewer licenses, but deployment and management are less complex and time-consuming.

However, you need to tread carefully, as not every capability can easily be replaced with something similar.

It’s true that some companies offer tools that are largely comparable and that become increasingly similar with each new feature added. Nonetheless, other tools will have subtle differences that could have a big impact on your work, especially highly specialized marketing tools.

Having talked to your team in step one, you should be aware which capabilities are non-negotiable.

4. Aggregate and Integrate as Much as Possible

Another option to make your martech stack more efficient is aggregation: Making a large set of things easier to consume or access through a single source. App stores are a prime example for this — they offer us easy and safe access to a wide number of mobile applications from different developers, all in one place.

You can apply this principle to your martech stack by choosing a tool that is able to integrate a wide range of other tools and thus offers access to them all from a single point. This can be particularly useful with regard to the customer journey. Brevo, for instance, not only offers over 150 plugins and integrations for software such as Shopify, PrestaShop, or WordPress, but also custom integrations on request so that you get access to all your tools.

Being able to quickly access all customer information is essential for several reasons. On the one hand, it makes it much simpler to get the full picture of your customers — their purchase behaviour, preferences, needs — to personalize your marketing. On the other hand, laws such as GDPR require you to swiftly inform your customers of the data you hold on them and, if required, completely delete it. If you only need one tool for this, you can easily comply, saving both time and effort.

As a European company, Brevo knows the importance of data privacy well and takes them seriously. Therefore, Brevo servers are hosted in the EU, the company’s fully compliant with GDPR and ISO 27001:2013-certified — an international standard for managing information security.

5. Learn How to Really Leverage Your Tools

This last step may sound obvious, but it is often forgotten when introducing new tools. The result of this is that you may have capabilities at your disposal that neither you nor your team knows about. At this point of the process, though, you should have a clear understanding of the tools you have, what they are — theoretically — capable of, and how you want to use them going forward.

How the training program should be designed depends on different aspects. For example, if some members of your team are experts on certain tools, they could instruct their teammates. As an alternative, providers frequently offer training sessions — live or on demand — to help users both understand the fundamentals as well as learn additional tips and tricks. Furthermore, you should work closely with your account managers who are also committed to ensuring that you get the most out of your tools and can help you achieve this.

Enterprise customers, for example, have a personal account manager at Brevo who handles migration, implementation, and training so that you and your team can quickly get started, and continues to help with expertise and insights into the platform.

Training should also be an ongoing process — make sure that your team quickly knows about new features as they are released, and how to utilize them. Furthermore, make it a priority to onboard new team members to these tools within their first months.

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