Retailers must reinvent to survive…

Raconteur’s annual Future of Retail report was recently published for 2016 with the title that ‘retailers must reinvent to survive’. Certainly an attention grabbing headline but also an assertion I would agree with. The call to reinvent applies to everything from the bricks-and-mortar shopping experience through to the products that we buy.

Asides from reinvention, efficiency remains essential. The living wage and apprentice levy are estimated to amount to £14 billion of extra costs to the retail industry over the next four years, against a backdrop where the Brexit impact which, according to Planet Retail, could result in a decline in UK retail by 2.5% - 3.0% in 2017 and that it will take until 2020 to recover to current trading volumes

Therefore, whether it be in-store experience, multi-channel strategy or the products on the shelves (or all of the above), the need to reinvent is very real and requires the right use of technology to enable it. According to the Raconteur report, technology and ‘big data’ systems are two of the top given areas where retailers are focusing to drive growth over the next three years; the number one focus being multi-channel.

There is apparent industry agreement that significant reinvention is required around the shopping experience whether this be store format, convenience or technology. However, at S4RB we believe there is a risk that this reinvention can be done at the expense of the product. Ultimately the product experience will out-live the shopping experience so it’s important to ask: does that product deliver on the promise? This promise could be about quality, nutrition, value or simply the product’s consistency from one purchase to the next.

Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive is quoted as saying retailers need “a relentless focus on understanding and responding to the customer”.  We agree with this whole-heartedly and this is the bedrock of our UBX vision – delivering a Unified Brand Experience.

UBX is about listening to customers and consolidating multi-channel feedback from call centres, in-store, returns, complaints, online and social media as well as benchmark comparisons carried out by the retail team, into one consolidated view of product performance.  This ‘One View’ is especially important for retail private brands where the sheer scale and volume of different products across many categories means tools are required to consolidate and provide insight into this ‘big data’.

Furthermore, the concept of UBX is to then share these insights with the relevant private brand suppliers so that the retailer can work together with these suppliers as ‘One Team’ to ensure consistent, winning quality. With both parties listening to customer feedback through One View, there is the opportunity to provide customised, focused innovation for the future.

Tags: Customer experience, Product development

James Butcher

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