What’s driving the huge changes happening on the high street right now?
We are at the very beginning of a massive transformation of the retail landscape in Europe. This has been triggered by the introduction of many new technologies, and in particular by the strong adoption of smartphones. The amount of time that people spend with their eyes glued to their mobile phone has completely changed the dynamic of retail shopping. What is really happening is that the barriers between online and offline shopping are being taken away – in this way it is the customer who is driving the revolution in retail which we are currently experiencing.
Mobile has now become an integral part of the shopping experience, both online and in-store, not just for buying, but also for researching information, comparing offers and looking up discounts and vouchers. Retailers must entirely rethink the shopping journey, with mobile at every stage of the process.
How have successful retailers managed to implement multichannel effectively?
Getting multichannel right is much easier said than done – it requires a very high level of logistical execution, a considerable amount of investment in hardware, software, training and a lot of dedication and commitment by the entire organisation.
Whatever retailers do, they have to not only put the customer first, but also really think like a customer. The way consumers shop has changed, and as a result their expectations have changed. The most successful retailers have understood that, and are working to align the way they do business with customer expectations.
In addition, retailers have to adapt their organisational structure to reflect the changes in operational goals – all too often when we talk to retailers we discover that they have internal teams working on retail projects and promotions independently of each other – a very siloed approach. In terms of the Marketing department for example, you may have one team responsible for in-store marketing operations, and another in charge of online marketing – these teams may not necessarily talk to each other. They have different goals, different KPIs and different budgets. This organisational structure prevents retailers from implementing efficient multichannel campaigns, since by definition those campaigns cut across departments. For companies to really operate a multichannel model they need to find a way to restructure their teams to adjust to this new operational reality.
How do you see things changing in the next five years?
One thing is clear, the in-store experience is still very important to consumers. Despite how comfortable a large portion of the public now is with shopping online, 90% of retail sales still happen in-store. Hence, I definitely do not think that stores are going away any time soon.
Secondly, data will be far more important to a greater number of retailers. If retailers are transparent with consumers with regards to the data they are gathering, and communicate what this data is being used for, then they will be able to deliver a highly relevant and personalised shopping experience which will in turn foster a fruitful and long-term relationship with their customers.
Thirdly, we can see that sales on mobile devices are increasing as a share of total e-commerce sales, and I’m sure this trend will continue. What we will see, as time goes by, is that the amount of devices which fit into this ‘mobile’ category will expand to include any object with internet connectivity like entertainment systems, home appliances or whatever the consumer happens to be using at the time. One thing seems certain – technology will be the backbone of retail in five years time to a far greater extent than it is today.
*This interview is an extract from our recent Whitepaper 'From Online to In-Store' you can get a copy by clicking the link below.