On 6th September I had the very great honour of being a speaker at the 1st Royal Sun Alliance retail customer seminar at the British Ambassador’s residence in Paris. RSA ran this inaugural event for their European retail clients to share ideas, to network and to thank them for their custom. My talk was “The future of Retailing” and I focused on 3 topics which I will share in this article…
Mobile is the enabler – retail innovation driven by access to the internet on the move
My first topic was mobile – not in itself, but as an enabler of so many new innovations. The increasing consumer appetite for access to the internet on the move lead to a plethora of devices, in our pockets and bags, which get us online any time, any place and almost anywhere.
Smart phones enable social sharing, mobile search, research, transactions and reviews – and this can be before, during and after the “shopping” has taken place, or, instead of “shopping” completely. See this video by Google on the “smart shopper” –
The acceptance of using mobile for so much more has lead to innovation in other areas – SMS marketing and SMS purchasing methods – bypassing the need for a reliable internet connection completely!
Yes – mobile is changing the face of retailing and, to quote Nick Marley, head of web selling at Waitrose, has given us a “remote control for life”.
Personalisation forces retailers to think differently about engaging with their customers
As customers, especially when we have loyalty cards, we’re “agreeing” to the retailer holding data about us. As we get more time pressure and more demanding, we as consumers are “expecting” that in return for us allowing access to our personal information retailers will provide us with a more relevant shopping experience. We know that with a bit of effort they could market to us better and we like it when they get it right. So retailers need to recognise that consumers value GOOD personalised marketing is a relevant, time-saving method to talk to us… but get it wrong and consumers are VERY intolerant!
Personalisation has been around for a long time when it comes to product – bespoke / tailored etc… but now it’s being used more subtly on items you might not first think of such as trainers… Have a look at NikeID on YouTube…
And there are some businesses working on personalisation of the whole shopping experience – so watch this space!
A preference to shop online has made retailers get more creative about in store experience
This trend is the culmination of the other trends – a passion for online, for connectedness, for access to information and to “have it my way”. Retailers have really had to rethink their retail stores in order to engage a fast-paced consumer who values interaction and information at an alarming rate!
Apple lead the way with stores that were much more about getting involved with products and enjoyment than about holding stock and selling items. Indeed recently it was reported that Disney engaged Apple to help them make their stores more of a “retail theatre” to inspire customers to buy merchandise; moving away from their older, supermarket-like layouts.
It is Adidas however who stand out from the crowd implementing the ultimate in technology. They’ve put “iPad” like interaction into stores, with WOW technologies and genuine benefits in terms of their customer engagement – this isn’t sci-fi – this is retailing in the future – have a look at this…
Why are mobile, personalisation and retail theatre going to be the future of retail?
To quote Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman at Google “If you don’t have a mobile strategy you don’t have a future strategy”
To quote Lauren Freedman, President of The e-tailing group “Consumers value the convenience, time savings and ease from a more relevant interaction”
And my thoughts… The “iPad customer” wants an in-store experience that is rich, exciting and interactive; better than the online alternatives or bricks and mortar will be left behind.
Lets see if the 3 of us have used our crystal balls well!!! 🙂