AWS for Industries

Retail Partner Conversations: How Rokt is impacting the future of retail

As retailers around the world are experiencing unprecedented disruption, industry leaders are demonstrating resilience, tenacity, and a capacity for innovation. We’ve embarked on a series of conversations with executives from Amazon Web Services (AWS) strategic partners, to showcase their leadership and innovation in challenging times.

In the latest installment of our Retail Partner Executive Conversations blog series, we chat with Jon Humphrey, VP of Solutions and Product Marketing at Rokt, a global leader in ecommerce technology. In this blog, Jon talks about his views on the importance of growing sustainable and profitable growth through the power of technology.

AWS: Help our readers understand your vantage point. What are Rokt’s key segments in the retail industry, and with what type of retail executives do you interact with?

Jon Humphrey: Rokt has a strong presence in the retail sector, catering to clients across the industry with renowned brands such as Lands’ End and Wayfair, among others. However, Rokt solutions extend service beyond retail, encompassing diverse segments and verticals such as travel, telecommunications, and financial services. We’ve forged successful partnerships with some of these other vertical leaders like Live Nation, PayPal, and Hello Fresh. These collaborations extend to crucial roles within retail, including CMOs, heads of ecommerce experience, and strategic partnerships, all laser-focused on driving growth, profitability, brand positioning, and enhancing the customer experience. Additionally, we actively engage with executives from various functions such as sales, operations, and customer experience, enabling us to grasp the unique needs and challenges faced by retailers. Ultimately, our objective is to deliver tailored and comprehensive solutions that address these specific requirements.

AWS: Retail companies are managing through a period of unprecedented disruption. What have been the biggest challenges facing your retail customers?

Jon Humphrey: In 2023, retailers face significant obstacles in both the ecommerce realm and the broader retail space. The intensifying competition and the struggle to differentiate themselves in the crowded online marketplace pose a daunting challenge. Bankruptcies, exemplified by industry leaders like Bed Bath & Beyond and David’s Bridal, serve as a stark reminder that the need for sustainable and profitable retail growth extends beyond the digital landscape. Retailers must navigate these hurdles to ensure success in both online and beyond brick-and-mortar environments.

Additionally, customer expectations are soaring, and personalization has become crucial. Retailers need to provide tailored shopping experiences, personalized recommendations, and seamless customer service across multiple channels. Meeting these demands requires sophisticated data analytics, AI-powered algorithms, and a comprehensive understanding of customer preferences and behaviors.

Retailers in 2023 are also grappling with the gradual phasing out of third-party cookies, which has a significant impact on the amount of data available to them. With privacy concerns gaining prominence, major web browsers and regulatory initiatives have taken steps to limit the use of third-party cookies for tracking and targeting purposes. This shift poses a challenge for retailers as they have relied on third-party cookies to gather valuable insights into customer behavior, preferences, and purchasing patterns. The reduced availability of this data makes it more difficult to deliver personalized experiences, targeted advertising, and effective customer segmentation.

To overcome these challenges, retailers must continuously adapt, innovate, and invest in cutting-edge technologies to enhance customer experiences and stay ahead of the competition.

AWS: How do you see retailers adjusting their operating environments to current market dynamics and changing consumer expectations?

Jon Humphrey: Retailers are adapting to current market dynamics and changing consumer expectations by embracing digital transformation. They invest in user-friendly interfaces, personalized marketing, and data-driven advertising strategies to enhance their ecommerce platforms. Leveraging advanced technologies like Rokt, retailers optimize the customer experience at the individual level, maximizing marketing efficiency.

To achieve profitability, retailers are focusing on their operating costs, retail media networks, and organizational efficiencies. They recognize the importance of advertising through retail media, which is experiencing significant growth in the retail industry. By establishing robust retail media networks, retailers unlock additional revenue beyond their core retail operations and leverage customer data for targeted advertising experiences.

By making strategic adaptations, retailers can better navigate tighter budgets and lower advertising costs while effectively meeting market dynamics and changing consumer expectations.

AWS: The retail industry is incredibly resilient. As you look forward, what role do you think technology and the cloud will play for retailers? How do you see technology enhancing the customer experience and improving operational efficiencies?

Jon Humphrey: Looking ahead, technology and the cloud will play a crucial role in the retail industry, enhancing customer experiences and operational efficiencies. By leveraging data analytics, AI, and machine learning, retailers can deliver personalized experiences and targeted promotions. The cloud provides scalability and integration capabilities for efficient data management and real-time operations. By embracing technology, retailers can meet evolving consumer expectations and drive growth in the competitive retail landscape.

AWS: With the current disruptions in the retail industry, how is your company innovating to help your customers?

Jon Humphrey: In the interconnected world of ecommerce transactions, this collaboration involves multiple stakeholders such as retailers, advertisers, and technology providers who work together to achieve success. With evolving privacy and tracking regulations, businesses require a trusted intermediary like Rokt to effectively utilize their own first-party data. By partnering with Rokt, ecommerce businesses can offer a competitive solution to dominant digital advertising players, leveraging their own first-party data.

Rokt delivers a new revenue stream and exceptional results for ecommerce sites and advertisers by providing relevancy at the transaction moment. This includes generating an incremental profit of over three million dollars for every 10 million transactions and an effective cost-per-thousand impressions (eCPM) exceeding $300. Our advanced machine learning technology addresses the consumer’s paradox of choice by eliminating an overwhelming number of offers and delivering only the best offers from premium non-endemic brands to enhance the customer experience.

While companies establish their retail media networks, Rokt’s purpose-built technology focuses on the transaction moment, doubling the economics of ecommerce transactions. This unlocks tremendous opportunities that retailers often miss during the in-cart and confirmation page stages.

Rokt’s algorithm optimizes messaging for individual consumers, offering personalized cross-sells and upsells in the cart, loyalty program offers, and third-party promotions on the confirmation page. By ensuring high relevance to consumers and maximum value for brands, Rokt maximizes the potential of each ecommerce transaction.

AWS: There’s so much talk at the moment that the shopping experience has changed, and there’s a “new normal” going forward. What does this “new normal” look like to you, and how do you think the retail experience will look three years from now?

Jon Humphrey: In the “new normal” of the shopping experience, retailers are expected to excel in remembering and valuing customers, delivering highly engaging and relevant interactions across various selling channels. This customer-centric approach is crucial for delighting shoppers and cultivating loyalty by understanding their preferences and providing personalized experiences.

However, the evolving landscape, including the demise of third-party cookies and the emergence of stricter regulations, presents challenges for retailers that have not prioritized the utilization of their own first-party data. To navigate this dynamic environment, companies must revamp their personalization strategies while ensuring compliance with evolving regulations. This entails a shift from relying on third-party cookies to adopting a first-party approach or partnering with technology providers to offer customers the most relevant shopping experiences. This transition enables retailers to leverage their own data and deliver interactions that align with customer needs while respecting privacy regulations.

Looking ahead three years from now, the retail experience will become even more customer-centric and personalized. Retailers that successfully adapt to this changing landscape and leverage first-party data will be at an advantage in providing exceptional shopping experiences, fostering customer loyalty, and remaining competitive.

The rise of retail media networks will play a pivotal role in powering these relevant experiences. Brands will harness their first-party data within these networks to create tailored and targeted interactions for customers. By utilizing their own data assets, brands can unlock the potential of personalized advertising, promotions, and recommendations. Retail media networks will serve as a platform for brands to collaborate, share insights, and enhance customer relevancy across the entire shopping journey. This collaborative ecosystem will further empower brands to deliver highly relevant and engaging experiences that resonate with customers’ preferences and needs.

AWS: What excites you about the future of retail?

Jon Humphrey: What excites me about the future of retail is the opportunity to create memorable experiences for customers. As the retail landscape evolves, customers are increasingly rewarding retailers who prioritize relevancy in their transactions. However, in the future, customers will actively seek out retailers who make them feel remembered and valued.

The growth of ecommerce, coupled with stricter data privacy laws and the diminishing relevance of cookies, has elevated the value of first-party data. Leveraging this data has become a goldmine for enhancing customer relevancy and driving the economic success of ecommerce.

Additionally, collaboration among retailers and their partners is becoming increasingly important. As customers often overlap between different businesses, working together in a smarter way allows for a more connected ecommerce experience. This interconnected nature of ecommerce is only going to strengthen—where products and services are sold through multiple channels and partnerships are essential.

While brands’ retail media strategies will continue to power top-of-the-funnel experiences, more and more brands will realize the significant potential of offering optimized and relevant transaction experiences. By embracing this opportunity, retailers can unlock new levels of growth and customer satisfaction.

In summary, the future of retail excites me because it presents a chance to leverage first-party data, foster collaboration amongst multiple businesses, and deliver highly personalized experiences that resonate with customers. By doing so, retailers can tap into the vast potential of customer relevancy and create lasting connections with their audience.

AWS: Thanks for chatting with us, Jon. We appreciate your insights and expertise.

To learn more about Rokt, get in touch on their contact page.

Check out more AWS Partners or contact an AWS Representative to know how we can help accelerate your business.

AWS Partner Spotlight

Rokt is a global leader in ecommerce technology, enabling companies to drive incremental value from every transaction by offering highly relevant messages at the moment customers are most likely to convert. Rokt’s machine learning technology has powered billions of global transactions annually for the world’s leading companies, including Live Nation, AMC Theatres, PayPal, Uber, Hulu, Staples, Lands’ End, and HelloFresh. Founded in Australia, with US headquarters in New York City, the company operates in 15 countries across North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Rokt for a second year in a row joined the fastest-growing private companies in the US on the Inc. 5000 list in 2022.

Next Steps: Explore Rokt’s solutions available in AWS Marketplace

Snehanshu Bhaisare

Snehanshu Bhaisare

Snehanshu Bhaisare is an AWS partner solutions architect with 14+ years of IT experience. He guides software partners and customers in building solutions on AWS, with a focus on ML, SaaS, and Security. In his free time, he enjoys reading, gardening, and trekking with his wife.

Jon Humphrey

Jon Humphrey

Jon Humphrey is the VP of Solutions and Product Marketing at Rokt. He oversees the Solutions Engineering, Launch Engineering, and Product Marketing teams globally. Prior to joining Rokt, Jon spent 5 years at Wunderkind where he grew and scaled the Solutions team in the US and UK. He began his career at Market Metrics, a boutique consulting firm focused on quantitative analysis on behalf of large financial institutions. Jon holds a BSBA from Northeastern University and is based out of New York City.

Marco Kormann Rodrigues

Marco Kormann Rodrigues

Marco Kormann Rodrigues is the EMEA Retail Partner Solution Lead at AWS. In his role he recruits, develops and markets partner solutions to the retail industry. Prior to joining AWS, Marco spent years as a consultant implementing SAP for CPG brands and retailers, and more recently analytics SaaS product development for retailers. He holds a BSc in Actuarial Mathematics and Statistics from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh and an MSc in Information Systems Engineering from Ecole Centrale Paris.