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  • 1 Oct

Retail Insight from the Retail Systems Multichannel Conference

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Last week we attended the Retail Systems Multichannel Conference. I wanted to share some of the beneficial points that were raised for retailers.

Firstly the conference opened with the message that the new retail driver is convenience over location. Customers want something which fits in to their own lives and spending habits.  The ability to buy or access the store though which ever method they prefer is essential as the store could be located within their pocket on their smartphone. In terms of click and collect retailers are seeing a sharp up take in this service amongst customers. John Lewis have seen a 30% increase in click and collect orders. This is growing at twice the rate of delivery to home. Marks and Spencers are experiencing a 40% increase in orders via click and collect.

At the conference we then heard from Facebook, in which they stated they now have 27 million monthly active users. They claim that every 1 in 5 internet minutes is spent on Facebook. With this in mind Facebook are now working much more closely with retailers to develop tailored solutions. One of the features is ‘Facebook exchange’, if a potential customer has abandoned their cart on the web, then the cookie information will store this and then target that customer on Facebook with a personalised ad which then features in that same individuals news feed.

This could be seen as intrusive and slightly ‘Big Brother’, but could potentially offer retailers a great opportunity to increase conversions. ‘Custom Audiences’ is another feature launched by Facebook. Data is matched from the retailers database to Facebook’s own data by email, or name. The retailer then has the option of targeting via Facebook once they have funelled the data to produce relevant and targetted lists. ‘Facebook Offers’ was another way that retailers are using the offer concept to drive sales. When individuals claim the retailer offer, this then features in all of their friends news feeds, and therefore is gaining wider reach for subsequent consumers to claim the deal.

Google also presented at the day, who stated that 1 in 10 sales are now online. They also suggested that the purchasing decision is taking 7 times longer because of the research element now involved. An interesting development by Google on the day for me was that of indoor maps. This will enable a customer to navigate a store whilst inside using the Google map functionality.

We have all heard lots about QR codes in recent times. Schuh shared their experiences of QR codes in store. Whilst Schuh have displayed QR codes in the store for customer to scan to find out about products etc people just weren’t scanning them. The interesting observation was that people are now starting to use these lots more, but when they are used on customer receipts to instead fill out reviews on their shopping experience. From this we could assume that QR codes are better when used for certain types of activity.

One of the highlights for us on the day was the discussion panel on Internationalisation in which Nigel Illingworth our CEO – Merret, at Retail Assist was on the panel. Discussions were hosted around the international trade of retailers, why they decide to take the plunge overseas, and what some of the barriers to trading might involve. There are a number of important considerations for retailers to make.

  • Do the current online order values reach a high enough volume to warrant overseas presence or localisation to that country?
  • Have you considered the differences in legal requirements for trade overseas?
  • What are the margins involved in the sale? Sales might be up, but do the costs involved in trading international make it viable?
  • Localisation – what are the currency or product implications in overseas markets?
  • Partner agencies – setting up partners overseas enable the retailers to focus on the product, and let others focus on the the trading implications and establish the necessary relationships.

The most popular markets that are opening up for UK retailers were suggested as the Far East, Australasia, Singapore, and Japan. It may also be of benefit to look at countries where seasonality can provide you with a year round market. As the summer dress goes out of fashion as the winter months hit in the UK, with operations in Australia for example, the out of season dresses could then be shipped to Australia just as they are reaching their summer months.

With a growing desire for UK brands in the US, retailers have a great opportunity gain store presence overseas at the moment.

These were my points of insight from the day. Did anyone else attend or have any further thoughts from what they heard. Share your comments below.

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