The retail sector has changed, boy has the sector changed! A big question now: are you as a retailer able to adapt to the new landscape and how quickly?
THE FOUNDATION HAS CHANGED. If we consider that the foundation of the retail sector is historically linked to the element that has influenced you to purchase a product or service – the shop window, the stacked shelves, the full clothing rails, the showroom of gleaming cars, the market store, the street or underground poster – digital technologies has been having a dramatic impact on the retail sector, but overnight these traditional purchase influencers have all but disappeared due to the restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The foundation is not the shop keeper, sales assistant, the market trader, the telesales or door-to-door sales person – they facilitate the transaction – it is the mechanism that engages the customer. The mechanism that reaches, engages and influences consumer interest and desire. The desire for a product or service, or to purchase from a specific retailer.
Digital technologies were changing the landscape, although the principle of the foundation has not changed, the channels have. The vehicles that engage us, influence us and drive us towards a transaction have changed. Online and increasingly mobile – are core mechanisms that deliver content to our eyes. Today they almost uniquely the only mechanisms that engage us.
We go online, we rely on our mobile, tablet or computer for almost every part of everyday life. Our research and discovery almost exclusively now starts online. We are influenced by what we see and experience. There are so many potential touch points, getting a customer’s attention is challenging. We are bombarded with so much content.
Retailers are just part of the mix, competing for attention, vying for a share the potential customer’s limited time. The challenge for retailers is adapting to a landscape that’s being changed by the ways in which consumers are shopping. Getting in front of potential customers is key, but also is using the limited opportunity to deliver an engaging experience.
LOCATION, TIME and MESSAGE are critical. The time to cut through and gain attention is extremely limited. Once engaged, the experience is even more critical. There are literally seconds to impress, influence and create a desire – or to lose a potential customer. Brand loyalty can no longer be relied upon as a customer driver, experience loyalty should be your core focus.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR RETAILERS? You cannot be complacent about customer experience (CX). The experience has to be great or the potential customer will likely walk away for good. The consumer is firmly now in control.
Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself honestly what you think of the experience, without rose tinted glasses. Look at the data, what does it tell you? If you are losing visitors/customers at any stage of the journey you can and should do more, you need to manage and adjust the customer experience. Very few retailers are getting this right. There are many simple elements which can make a huge difference in engagement and ultimately conversion to sale. Many are very simple and easy to implement. It is not unusual to see a rapid uplift of 300% or more by making simple changes. Meeting the increasingly changing demands of potential customers is essential. You need to view the opportunity with a fresh pair of eyes, pushing traditional operating principles to these vehicles will not work. You need to adapt and quickly.
Martin Wilson at Indigo102.