If we compare the retail landscape from last year to this year, we see significant changes. This time last year the likes of Topshop and Debenhams still existed on the high streets and in city centres, with now just an empty shell of what was. Whereas those on the right side of retail i.e. online, and those that have adapted their strategies to make them fitting to the new world and changes in consumers needs / behaviours, excelled and grew. Take UK grocer Tesco introducing their new one-hour whoosh delivery service, or the likes of Asda who have partnered with Uber Eats to offer a brand new door to door delivery service. It’s evident to see the retailers that are surviving and set to continue thriving are the ones that are investing, innovating and meeting the preferences of all their consumer base. Whether it is a safer in store shopping experience, a speedier online delivery service, or devloping a partnership with other brands to provide a better, more seamless customer experience.
5,000 people across the UK surveyed, the % of consumers that will shop online versus in store is significantly higher than pre pandemic levels, consistent across all products, services, categories and demographics.
The one question on every retailers mind whilst looking forward to the future is how and where consumers will shop? Will they move from large city centres to smaller local high streets, so that they can stay closer to home and shop smarter? Will they abolish physical shopping all together and adopt a safer, comfortable and more convenient approach by remaining online? Or after being locked up for so long and craving a sense of normality, a trip to the retailers physical store be greatly welcomed? With many questions unanswered and even more to be considered, what is the next step for retailers to future proof their organisation and remain succesful?
Retailers are presented with further challenges and choices to make regarding future strategy and delivery of their services / products. Since every consumer is unique, in terms of differing levels of confidence, needs and preferences, it is essential retailers not only keep up with the changing environments and trends, but also cater their offerings and services for each consumer and situation.
Return to pre-pandemic ways? Or adopt the new normal? The answer lies in striking a balance within strategy. An omnichannel approach allows retailers to integrate all of the vital consumer touchpoints that consumers go between. Taking elements of what consumers considered to be ‘normal’ and grew to love, whilst implementing it alongside changes to remain competitive, survive and put customers minds at ease. For example, creating a comfortable safe environment for in store shopping through more regular health and safety audits, whilst investing into greater technology to innovate their online service offerings such as quicker delivery times or a new and improved click and collect model. Utilising this prime opportunity means they can offer all kinds of consumers a seamless customer experience going forward, no matter where purchasing takes place and what channel customers decide to use, ultimately offering them greater flexibility and choice.
One thing for certain within the retail industry right now is change. Those retailers that don’t more with the times and venture online as well as offline will be left behind. Consumers over the past 2 years have witnessed a vast number of retailers adapt and innovate to best meet their needs and desires. And since they have done it so well and at pace, their expectations are higher than ever, whether it be for an online or offline experience. Therefore, retailers must continue to strengthen their offerings.
Alongside the pandemic, the evolution of marketing and search engines is only fuelling the move to online. Whilst search engines offer ability to discover, research more, compare competitor’s eye for eye, and discover brand new products and services at the click of a button, and marketing channels offering that increased temptation through personalised ads on consumers social media feeds, to be able to swipe up and buy something so easily, it is no wonder consumers favour online and purely offline retailers are struggling to compete.
With the most successful retailers set to be the ones that not only offer the safest physical shopping experience but also the best omnichannel approach, it is essential to embed change successfully within your organisation. At Tessiant we have delivered many successful change and transformation projects within the retail sector, as well as having senior leaders and associates with strong retail backgrounds and expertise in delivering omnichannel models. We can devise a roadmap for your transformation and deploy our experienced teams to work alongside you to help you deliver and achieve real long-lasting outcomes such as a more seamless customer experience.