The future of shopping is personalised discovery across devices, Facebook’s UK managing director Steve Hatch told the audience at Retail Week Live today.

Facebook's UK MD Steve Hatch on the dangers of carpet-bombing your own brand

Steve Hatch said retailers should start thinking about connecting with consumers shopping across several platforms rather than individual devices. But one of the key challenges for brands in adopting such a strategy were cookies, he said, adding that companies tended to record user journeys on one device rather than being able to track across multiple devices.

However, Hatch was equally quick to ascertain the improper use of retargeting could lead to brand damage. “Used intelligently retargeting can be powerful way of growing the business… but it can be a brand killer [if over used],” he said.

Hatch said two of the biggest consumer trends he’d seen was the shift from desktop to mobile and the move from search to discovery. “Over the last four years we’ve seen the amount of time people spend on mobile increase six-fold. It’s a huge shift. [Mobile] was easy to underestimate. Facebook underestimated this massively; we got it wrong the first time round. We were a desktop-driven business,” he told delegates.

He also said one of the biggest challenges for brands was how to stay relevant to customers and connect with them. He equated the challenge to consumers having a “thimble of attention and tsunami of content”.

Hatch cited several examples of how retailers were engaging with Facebook-owned properties. He said John Lewis, one of the social network’s launch partners on Instagram, had seen a 14% increase in sales from a particular demographic for a pair of heels it posted on Instagram last October.

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