The retail industry is constantly changing as businesses embrace new technologies and react to new customer needs and shopping behaviours.
That is why Retail Gazette launched The Game Changers, a set of awards that recognise businesses that are taking risks, blazing trails and transforming retail.
The final deadline to enter the awards is this Friday so if you’re doing groundbreaking things, let the world know about it by entering the awards.
Although we hope to uncover new game changing initiatives transforming the sector, we asked some of the judges of The Game Changers what they think has shaken up retail over the past two years.
The rise of speedy delivery is high on the list for Kingfisher chief digital and technology officer JJ Van Oosten.
“Ultra-fast delivery of ad hoc orders at a few moments’ notice is an increasing trend that we’re seeing among established retailers and start-ups,” he says.
Van Oosten highlights how the grocery sector has been at the forefront of this trend with Tesco’s Whoosh offering delivery within an hour, whilst Sainsbury’s Asda and Morrisons have partnered with firms such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats.
Meanwhile, a throng of start-ups such as Gorillas, Getir and Weezy are moving into the online groceries market.
However, speedy fulfilment is not just transforming grocery. Van Oosten highlights how Kingfisher is bringing it to the world of home improvement.
“We’re meeting the growing customer need for immediacy too by trialling Screwfix deliveries within the hour by Gophr in Bristol,” he says.
Creating omnichannel stores
Eve Sleep chief executive Cheryl Calverley believes that the most transformative thing in the industry in recent years is how retailers have brought together the best of online with the best of stores.
She says: “I think retailers are genuinely coming to grips with omnichannel, understanding how to bring the digital experience in-store and the store experience online, with content and live support has made a vast difference to customers’ ability to make choices, tackling the paradox of choice that online can leave one with, and the fear of being ‘sold to’ that can afflict in-store “
However, she believes more is to come and predicts the in-store experience will be completely reinvented post-pandemic.
“Physical retail will move from ‘shops’ to ‘showrooms’ connecting into a digital fulfilment model, and bringing the modern logistics of ecommerce together with the experiential nature of in-store,” says Calverley.
“This requires retail genuinely evolving to become destination ‘shopping’ which will mean retailers understanding fully the added value experiences they can give customers in-store, and also changing the way they measure the ROIs of their stores.”
Calverley points out that businesses such as Apple, and to some extent Dyson and Ikea, worked this out some time ago and their stores give shoppers an in-store experience that keeps them coming back to stores.
Enter the Retail Gazette Awards: The Game Changers today
The deadline to enter the Retail Gazette Awards is 5 August. We’ve made the entry process super speedy so it’s not too late to submit why your company should win.
Free to enter, and free to attend for all shortlisted firms. Make sure you’re in it, to win it.
If you’re changing the game in retail, let the world know – click here to enter.
Changing consumer behaviour
Dr Martens chief operating officer Geert Peeters points out that the real game changer over the past two years has been consumer behaviour, particularly the shift to online shopping.
“While many younger people have always been comfortable shopping online, over the course of the pandemic a broader range of people got used to making bigger purchases – the ones they would previously have made in shops – online, and that has stuck,” he explains.
Peeters says that despite seeing “a really enthusiastic return” to physical stores when Covid restrictions were eased, online sales continue to “go from strength to strength”.
One way that Kingfisher’s Van Oosten believes that one way that consumers have changed is their desire for more choice, which he says is a trend across all the markets it trades in.
“Customers want a wider choice, not an entirely complex range, but they want some curation. Home Improvement is the world of choice and choice is vital for customers when it comes to home improvement,” he says.
Kingfisher has ensured it has brought customers this choice by launching a marketplace for B&Q in March. Third parties sellers on its marketplace, which is hosted on B&Q’s DIY.com website and its app, have enabled it to widen its choice and offer customers a “one stop shop” for home improvement.
Customers will be able to shop an additional 100,000 products – three times the original number – within six months of its launch and B&Q has ambitions to sell more than a million products via the marketplace.
Another big behavioural change shaking up the world of retail is the shift to buying pre-loved products, according to eBay UK vice president and general manager Murray Lambell.
“The trend has been driven, in part, by more conscious consumers, but also costs too,” he says.
“As prices rise, we expect to see more people looking to make savings, so buying second-hand is a great way to do just that.”
Lambell has made sure that eBay, what he terms “the original second-hand marketplace”, has capitalised on this trend and has “put pre-loved fashion centre stage”.
The marketplace partnered with TV reality show Love Island this summer to showcase its pre-loved range and educate consumers on how they can look stylish whilst making better choices for the planet.
“Unlike other trends, this isn’t just a gamechanger for the bottom line or the consumer experience. It’s better for the planet, too,” he says.