How Retailers Can Survive (and Thrive) in the Cookie Apocalypse

October 29, 2021

The Bolt Team

How Retailers Can Survive (and Thrive) in the Cookie Apocalypse

A version of this article can also be found on Digital 360

The headwinds facing Independent retailers can at times seem insurmountable. The big marketplaces have usurped the direct customer relationship, which likely explains the No. 1 priority of independent retailers:

Greater control and continued ownership of customer relationships.

Privacy changes from Apple and Google will undoubtedly impact shopper acquisition. Merchants will lose the ability to track shoppers anonymously through cookies. Second, device based authentication will be more difficult. Under Apple and Google privacy changes, retailers will lose access to all remaining cookies and identifier for advertisers (IDFA) tracking systems—making the tough challenge of new customer acquisition via digital marketing even more challenging.

A case of the big and mighty getting bigger and mightier

These new policies will centralize power even more among the huge platforms / marketplaces like Amazon where users spend a lot of time to shop around. So the big platforms / marketplaces continue to track user behavior inside their own website while independent retailers can no longer track across the internet.

How independent retailers can stay competitive

Account acquisition through first-party data. First-party data is data about customers that is collected and owned by the retailer. It includes customer identity, digital interactions, purchase history, behavior, preferences and more. Unfortunately, this level of data gets obfuscated with guest transactions.

Recommendation #1: Customer Identity Strategy
Retailers first need an effective strategy and capability to convert unknown shoppers and guest transactions into recognizable store accounts. A single-sign-on (SSO) commerce-enabled identity layer, such as Bolt’s, can seamlessly create store accounts during checkout and simultaneously links store accounts to Bolt’s network accounts—creating a single shopper identity. This means an anonymous shopper becomes a known shopper and now merchants capture that first-party data in the very first transaction. This is critical in a world of cookie-less advertising because it enables merchants to own and retain their direct-to-consumer relationships

Recommendation #2: Exceed Expectations with Post-Purchase
Second, retailers should focus on the checkout and post-purchase experience. First party data allows them to drive deeper engagements for their consumers based on preferences and shopping habits. To compete with large marketplaces, merchants need to meet or exceed the bar they’ve set by offering the same one-click checkout, convenient post-purchase order tracking and the benefits of a member experience such as free shipping or loyalty discounts.

Recommendation #3: Diversify with Omnichannel
Finally, to compete with the rise of social platforms, retailers will need to embrace a diversified omnichannel strategy with a greater focus on first-party customer acquisition and retention. Customer data will be even more critical for retailers to gain insights on shopping behavior, preferences and loyalty to create more personalized experiences.

So to bring this full circle, the #1 priority of retailers is greater control and continued ownership of customer relationships一that starts with first party data. And first party data starts with customer account creation.

Bolt SSO Commerce lets merchants own that data. Not only that, with Bolt SSO Commerce, merchants can tap into a massive network of checkout-ready shoppers – even if those shoppers have never shopped with the merchant before. Bolt SSO Commerce is what independent retailers need to survive (and thrive) in the cookie apocalypse.

ThinkShop by Bolt does not constitute professional tax or financial advice. Contact your own tax or financial professional to discuss your situation.