The ever changing look of the consumer retail market drives everyone involved in the industry to continually innovate or risk losing customers. How you stay ahead of the curve is a challenge however by attending events such as the Ecommerce Expo, being held yesterday and today at Olympia, it is possible to gain an insight into what the industry thinks.
Perhaps the most interesting talk was by Edward Westenberg, Director of Retail at Cisco and his discussion on the move from multi-channel marketing to omni-channel.
His view was that consumer groups are fragmenting as personalisation (another hot topic at the expo) becomes more available and desired by both retailers and consumers. The baby boomer generation have made way for Generation Y, the millennials and now they have all become digital shoppers. By treating consumers more as individuals and offering a service that feels unique to them success is being found. He also explained as modern manufacturing process were open to every level of manufacturer the difference between the quality, premium brand values and even price due to comparison technology was less and less and so only the experience of shopping can make a difference. Consumers are now more excited by the prospect of the experience rather than actual ownership whether it is leasing a car or cooking restaurant quality food at home.
Where you sell your products is a key differentiator that retailers can act upon with consumers desiring the in store experience online and vice versa. Consumers want to shop anytime, anywhere, via any channel and in any way (click to collect etc). This leads to retailers to develop omni-channel retailing which puts the brand at the forefront of any channel and allows consumer to shop using whichever means they choose. Recent data from Cisco shows that multi-channel spend is around 10% higher than traditional single channels and omni-channel out delivers multi by a further 20%.
Customer value is derived from understanding the processes relating to the creation or acquisition of a consumer, capturing their data, profile in order to personalise the service and then deliver solutions to their needs in multiple forms from search, self-help, shopper favourites, take away reminders and immersive experiences.
Some of the cool examples of immersive technology included John Lewis virtual mirror which is being tested at the moment in-store and is receiving very positive feedback from consumers. In the states a leading kitchen supplier is providing kitchen designers virtually via video links in-store and supporting the service by allowing consumers to start the designs at home. When the consumer then enters the store they are registered via face recognition technology and a designer is alerted and able to call up the designs before the consumer sits down at the console.
This highlighted the work we are doing with a client at the moment in developing a customise design tool, hosted on I-pad’s in store, allowing consumers to come in and add their own colours, badges, stich patterns etc to existing product ranges. This personalisation will not only provide products that users truly desire but also an experience that users will hopefully want to repeat.
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