By Lauren OlsenAttention spans are said to be shortening, consumer tastes are increasingly discerning, and the seemingly endless number of items available online means that retail has perhaps become more competitive than ever. According to Matt Babineau, vice president of product marketing at e-commerce video platform Creatable, one of the best ways to keep up is to expand into previously underdeveloped platforms. “Consumers have an 8.25-second attention span and spend over five hours a day watching video,” he said. “Today, video consumption and shopping occur on the same device, yet retailers struggle to capitalize on the powerful untapped video medium. This is particularly impactful with the footwear vertical, as video content provides better education opportunities for shoppers and can reduce return rates.” What’s more, Babineau noted, it is common for consumers to use video to inform buying decisions. “Sixty-eight percent of shoppers visit YouTube before making a purchase,” he said. “Video search results are a great way for retailers to grab the attention of shoppers when searching various products.” Babineau added that based on current trends in consumer behavior, brands and retailers should also learn how to leverage best technologies in general. “Mobile continues to grow, and retailers should absolutely ensure their mobile sites are ready for high traffic and sales,” he said. Austin Miller, director of product marketing at Oracle Marketing Cloud, agreed that mobile is a key way to connect to today’s consumer. “Smartphones have changed the way we think, the way we behave — and the way we shop,” he said. “Footwear marketers need to break away from the notion that mobile is just another new messaging channel and embrace the power that mobile has in driving the over- all brand experience.” In regard to the way that Miller perceives consumer behavior shifts overall affecting retail marketing, he suggested that the changes at hand are merely a case of higher standards. “I would say one of the most powerful consumer behavioral shifts is simply that consumer expectations from marketers at large, and footwear specifically, expect more,” he said. “They will not accept irrelevant content, or untimely interruption — they will simply end their relationship with a brand that cannot meet expectations.” Miller pointed out that success comes down to a cohesive shopping experience. “You need to start with the basics and find a solution that at the minimum allows you to recognize customers for who they are, regardless of where the interaction is taking place with your brand,” he explained. “If I go to your website, call into a call center, engage with a clerk at a retail location — I view all those as interactions with your brand, not as three distinct interactions with different departments of your business.” Miller added that the best-performing footwear companies are not focusing on marketing channels but are instead emphasizing what he described as “seamless, low-friction” customer experiences. “At a bare minimum, you need to know who [the customers] are. Then we can start talking about how you can improve those interactions and make them relevant — and revenue-driving,” he said. Miller added that location awareness — inside and outside the store — empowers brands and retailers to create a relevant as well as custom brand experience for mobile-armed shoppers. To thrive, the consensus is that it is imperative for footwear brands and retailers to respond to today’s changing consumer. “Retailers must constantly innovate to differentiate themselves from competition,” Babineau said. “Footwear is one of the most competitive online retail segments today."