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Retail Expo 19′ – what retailers are talking about

By Zoe Perl May 2, 2019

Team Appointedd was on the road again – back in London, exhibiting at The Retail Expo.

Customer behaviours and expectations were again at the forefront of all talks and conversations, a focus point that has moved from marketing teams to c-suite boards in the past 10 years.

Here’s what Team Appointedd learnt at The Retail Expo 19’ …

The “retailpocalypse”

Is this really a retailpocalypse? “I don’t think it is …” said Justin King CBE, Former CEO, Sainsbury’s.

Over the past few years, there has been a dramatic shift in focus for retailers – from cost savings and revenue growth, to customer experience – but Justin King shone a new light on the term “retailpocalypse”.

“What [the retail industry] is experiencing now is something similar to the challenging backdrop of retail during the 1960’s. Although challenging, this time was also a period is explosive growth”

The UK retail market is currently valued at £360 billion and 20% of this is occupied by online retail. Justin enlightens us that £300 billion of retail is still in brick and mortar stores, “almost the exact same as it was 10 years ago. The bit that is new and challenging right now is that bricks and mortar has stopped growing.”

Justin King left us with his prediction for retail … do you agree?

“In 2020, 20% of retail is occupied online. So, in 2030 I predict “30% of retail will be online … BUT in 2030 we won’t recognise the distinction between an online and in store sale, it’ll all blur into one. So, as a retailer you need to be more mobile, more agile to cope with change.”

Understanding the role of brick

As consumers and shopping habits change, so does the need of retailers. The shopping experience is becoming more digitally-focused, and the role of physical stores in engaging customers is evolving.

The Operations Stage covered a similar key theme, Marks & Spencer took to the stage to identifying the importance of an M&S store in their online-to-offline customer journey.

Neil Phillips, Head of Digital Retail Ops at M&S captured the audience when he shared that “75% of all [M&S] online orders are collected in-store”. Data driven insights like this cements the importance of bricks and mortar stores in a customer journey.

When it comes to understanding the role of brick in the customer journey, our key takeaways were:

  • Common capabilities exhibited by those that prosper are speed, agility, and collaboration
  • Understanding what is most important to your customer is the key to success
  • Customer’s continually want what they ordered yesterday, so next day delivery is now expected from the customer
  • Distance and time [when it comes to delivery] are two variables that retailers need to focus on

Data driven insights

What elements of your customer experience keep bringing people back?

Data driven insights are helping retailers like JD Sports deliver on the retail fundamentals, truly delighting their customers while building genuine brand loyalty.

So, how relevant and valid is the information you’re asking or the data you’re acting upon?

Georgina Nelson, Founder and CEO, TruRating shared how data gained from TruRating empowered JD Sports to simple remove the guesswork of customer experience and use data to empower store staff to deliver an experience that their customers wanted.

“Customer feedback is no longer a marketing opp, but an operational action”Georgina Nelson, Founder and CEO, TruRating

Georgina left us with three key ways to innovate the basics of customer feedback:

  • Hear from the majority of customers, linking their sentiments to a meaningful data set
  • Test, learn and iterate based on feedback
  • Deliver experience that your customers want

At Appointedd, we’ve seen many of our clients delight in the data insights we can deliver on their bookings and business. As a generally traditional industry, one issue retailers have found is that their data is often siloed off across their organisation. By sending our clients actionable data insights in weekly and monthly reports, they can move quickly, become n=more agile and base their decisions on the data they have.

Expect vs. experience

Customers are determining the future of retail businesses and working their way into the heart of key strategy decisions. Does improving your brand experience to meet customer expectations equate to increased sales? A rhetorical question an entire industry is trying to answer.

Andy Murray, Chief Customer Officer at ASDA says we know what the customer expects and it’s simple – a seamless, convenient experience. But simplicity is difficult to deliver at scale. Andy goes on to share a question often asked at ASDA … “how do we make customer experience improvements inside a world of scale, complexity and legacy?”

Finishing day one of The Retail Expo one on the Headline Stage, we were reminded of Eric Shinseki’s famous saying – “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less”. A harsh yet timely reminder for a captivated retail audience.

Andy’s key takeaways focussed on influence vs. control:

  • Improving customer experience is a total company’s effort
  • Sequence change, eliminate dissatisfies
  • Turn the customer journey into a compelling quest

Connect with your customers

We kicked off day two of The Retail Expo by hearing from Jo McClintock, Brand Director of Moonpig – the UK’s biggest online cards, gifts and flower retailer who exceed double digit growth every year!

Retail has increasingly become great at functional commerce – providing customers with a good product range, speed of delivery, convenience, flexibility etc. – but where there’s room for improvement is how retailers connect with their customers on an emotional level.

Emotion has been separated from occasion and this is where Moonpig is really nailing customer experience by understanding their customers and delivering what they want.

Jo shares how as a Brand Director, she runs Moonpig as an emotional business not an occasion business, and here’s how …

  • Behavioural science
  • Cultural and societal studies
  • Live testing

Jo left us with three versions of one question … WHY?

  • Why are you here today?
  • Why are you relevant?
  • Why do you need to do this?

“If you dig to the bottom of these “whys” you have to have conviction as to why you want to solve them … but once you’re there it’s certainly rewarding”
Jo McClintock, Brand Director, Moonpig

Retail in the foreseeable future

Straight off the bat, the audience was bought back to day one of Retail Expo, when Justin King, Former CEO of Sainbury’s shared his belief in the future of high street retail. This drove an impressive panel of retail game-changers to adapt a solution mindset for retail…

“We need to dispel the myth of armageddon in retail” – Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of British Retail Consortium

Helen continued to share her point of view from inside the world of retail, saying it’s currently a perfect storm of new businesses thriving vs. traditional businesses closing or restructuring. This is where people are defining their current view of the future of high street.

“Reimagining the high street needs to think beyond retail – things like care in the community to cater to our aging population or flexible workplaces to cater for people who are agilely working. Experience, theatre, leisure – all these things that engage the community.”
Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium

Nick Johnson, Co-founder of Market Operation added that getting from [where we are today] to there is not one straight path or a silver bullet.

“The solution is becoming a bit more local, serving the local person and treating it a bit more like a neighbourhood”

Retailers were left with sound advice when planning for their future … “look at the retailers who are making a transformation and making themselves ready for the foreseeable future – think about how technology as well as local leadership is part of their road to success.”
Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium

Our final thoughts

It was amazing to see the strong themes recurring time and time again, both at FUTR and Retail Expo, the messaging was on par and simple as 1,2,3

  • Create memorable experiences – consumers don’t just want to buy from you, they want an experience…
  • Connect with your customers – it has to be convenient and flexible for your customers and in the manner that they want to be engaged in
  • Use technology to compliment the human core of your business – use insights not as a marketing opp, but an operational action

Appointedd are proud to be empowering some of the UK’s most well known retailers in every step of this equation.

Finally, The Retail Expo was fun and informative. It was fantastic to chat with peers and potential customers (who were excited about Appointedd’s online booking tools and how they can deliver fantastic omnichannel engagement), but also wonderful to see our customers, Mamas & Papas and Marks & Spencer, onstage captivating the audience with their omnichannel operations which continues to place them as leaders in retail.

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