Thursday, July 20, 2017

Senior directors on the future of retail

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With today’s consumer becoming ever more demanding, companies are rushing to ensure that they don’t get left behind in the new world of e-commerce, marketing and big data which will allow firms to personalise offers to customers on a level never seen before. Malcolm X said: “Tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”

Three directors from Britain’s leading outlets tell Retail Gazette what they think the future of shopping will be.

Graham Stapleton, CEO, Carphone Warehouse UK

As technology evolves, retailers are constantly striving to find new ways to capitalise on the opportunities which technology can bring, and it’s exciting to think about what is ahead for the UK’s high streets.

A few years ago we saw a huge boom in online retailing, and whilst the success of e-commerce continues, what we are starting to see now is a resurgence of the high street. This is good news for the UK economy and retailers alike but what should retailers do to maintain this momentum?

In order to attract footfall to the high street, retailers have realised that they need to give customers a real experience, as consumer demand for brand engagement is paramount. Technology is a key driver in this trend and will continue to impact the direction of the retail industry, as increasingly sophisticated tech hits the market. We’ve already started to see competition hotting up between retailers as they compete to give customers the most innovative experience possible, creating brand differentiation and driving customer loyalty, and we’ll definitely see more of that in years to come.

What will be really important – and potentially challenging – is that retailers will need to strike a balance between technology and face to face expertise. Our consumer research shows that, of those customers who are in the market for a new mobile phone, 51 per cent want to talk to someone face-to-face, while 52 per cent want to touch and feel a handset, prior to purchase.

Even though technology has impacted the retail industry in ways in which we could never have imagined, the high street is still very relevant. At Carphone Warehouse, we recently launched our award-winning customer retail experience, Pin Point, which is a tablet-based tool designed to give customers a personalised recommendation based on their own individual needs. It combines state of the art tablet technology – bringing elements of the online experience in-store to create a true omni-channel journey – with face-to-face expertise, which we know customers want. We’ve seen our customer satisfaction soar to 90 per cent since the launch which proves we have the right balance.

Consumer behaviour is changing rapidly, largely due to the way in which technology has permeated our lives. The survival of the high-street will be down to retailers responding to these changing needs and creating a seamless online and offline journey, as we have done with Pin Point, to give customers a complete onmi-channel experience of their brand.

Chloe Macintosh, Co-founder and Creative Director, Made.com

Whilst there are many changes impacting retail, the one thing that won’t change is its number one focus; the customer. We’re dawning on a golden age for consumers as they become more powerful than ever – and retailers need to stay ahead.

Online Marketing is an area that has to evolve alongside the consumer trends. Good brands are increasingly focusing less on acquiring new customers but instead adopting an end-to-end approach which shine a spotlight on their existing customer base. We use existing and new customers to identify needs for specific products and get them to decide what we should sell.

Consumers have really found their voice and are taking the lead. With a new collaborative economy, consumers are now prepared to share their belongings with others whether this

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