Many retail marketing and digital professionals are concerned about more than just the state of the economy, according to the Arktic Fox 2024 Digital, Marketing & eComm in Focus study.

Now in its fourth year and formerly known as the Marketing State of Play study, the report, developed in conjunction with Six Degrees Executive and in partnership with Amperity, found that retailers feel unprepared for looming Privacy Act reforms.

Less than one-third (30%) of retail marketing and digital leaders agree that their organisation has a very clear path to evolve, in line with the proposed privacy act changes. More worryingly, they believe those in leadership positions are similarly unready.

Less than half of all retail marketing and digital leaders agree that their executive group understands the importance of adapting and sees it as a key strategic priority to address how privacy is managed. Meanwhile, less than four in 10 retail marketing and digital leaders agree with the statement that their organisation is investing at the right level to deliver on our digital transformation ambition.

Arktic Fox director, Teresa Sperti (pictured left)warns that a casual approach to managing data and, in particular privacy, might result in more than suboptimal retail outcomes.

“Businesses could soon be suffering even more dire financial and reputational consequences for failing to appropriately safeguard their customers’ privacy,” she said.

“A privacy or spam breach impacts reputation and trust, which is linked to brand performance and preference. So, I’m amazed there isn’t much more focus on improving compliance and ethics by retail marketers and digital leaders.” 

Amperity area vice president for Asia Pacific, Billy Loizou (pictured right) believes Australian retailers want to take advantage of available tools, but they are struggling to execute.

“That’s hardly a new situation, but when you add in factors such as the rise of Gen AI, imminent reforms to the Privacy Act, flat retail budgets and Google deprecating third-party cookies, it’s not surprising so many retail professionals are nervous.”

When asking leaders how they would rate their current eCommerce maturity versus global leaders, nearly seven in 10 leaders rated their eCommerce maturity as ‘satisfactory’, ‘low’ or ‘very low’, demonstrating that many retailers understand there is more work to do.

 Sperti highlights how it’s still not uncommon to see e-commerce perceived as a separate channel and the link between e-commerce performance and overall business performance is not well understood.

“This sees retailers investing in e-commerce based on total or projected e-commerce sales as opposed to the true value e-commerce delivers to the entire business and bottom line. In addition, retailers are investing based on the revenues banked today as opposed to investing in part to build capability for tomorrow, which equally limits their ability to build maturity over time.”