Three things retailers have to prioritise this year
Rob Sandford, Managing Partner for Enterprise at O2
Do people still make shopping lists? In a world of seamless digital retail, is there still a need for the comprehensive itinerary, the satisfying tick-off and the weekly staple purchase?
Whether we’re talking about grocery, fashion or any other sector, customer needs and wants can still, to some extent, be predicted. They might not always shop with the same brands they used to, and their lists might be recorded in online baskets instead of notepads, but there are some fundamental things that our customers require of us.
That’s because modern shopping isn’t just about fulfilling a selection of products. Instead, it’s about having the most personalised, convenient experience possible. Customers’ choice isn’t only between tiger loaf and wholemeal bloomer, but between same-day and next-day delivery, or paying at the checkout versus on the app. Which means retailers have to ensure they can provide the most diverse range of experiences possible, to meet the specific preferences of every individual.
Scribbling down some essentials
We found out what some of those preferences are in our The Big Ask research. So here are three fundamental items retailers need to put on their own shopping lists to guarantee better experiences and consideration:
1. Multi-use digital infrastructure
Customers are used to flitting easily between physical and digital spaces at will. This extends as far as using both channels simultaneously – within some customer groups in our research, over half had browsed products online, while standing in a store. This means reliable connectivity is absolutely essential to ensure that customers are catered to wherever and however they want to shop.
Your digital infrastructure allows you to build extra resilience and agility into your operations. It might be helping staff to communicate better or getting real-time customer number updates to help with social distancing compliance. Whatever your requirements, having the right foundations in place is crucial.
2. Guaranteed-protection cyber security
The pre-existing move towards digital retail has undoubtedly been accelerated by the recent lockdowns. Nearly half of customers say they now spend more time engaging with brands online. This offers a new chance for retailers to differentiate. But it also offers opportunities for cyber criminals, who want to take advantage of the growing number of contact points people have with brands.
Reviewing your security setup and ensuring you have a network partner who can innovate to keep up with these new threats is a must. Peace of mind on cyber security can also free you up to focus on improving experiences and adding new capabilities to your digital infrastructure.
3. Close-woven employee collaboration
Your employees need the tools to understand and communicate with other areas of the business, and access customer insight. Without them, there’s no way they can adapt to the long-term changes in the way people are shopping. By improving connectivity and providing reliable communications platforms, you can remove the barriers between in-store, admin and delivery functions, which in turn will create more cohesive customer experiences.
If you can easily retrieve historical customer data, you can also better predict the likelihood of certain behaviours, such as returns, which helps you adapt a more profitable and consistent approach.
Fancy a shopping trip?
There are plenty more insights into what connected retail customers want from your brand to be found in The Big Ask report. You can download your copy here.
I’d love to hear what you think and what’s on your list. Are there areas you’re looking to strengthen, or that our research has given you pause to think about?