What is the secret to success in a tougher than ever retail environment?
With retailers from Poundland to House of Fraser suffering you'd be forgiven for thinking it's all doom and gloom in retail currently. But it's not. There are retailers bucking the trend by delivering exactly what their customers wan, when and how they want it. And they are doing it well enough that the customer is continuing to return for more.
So what does a winning strategy look like?
Successful retailers are delivering a consistent proposition across all channels, often in multiple markets and locations. They have single views of their customers, stock and operations, underpinning effective delivery and seamless communications. They use their finely honed data to make decisions about their business, their products and their strategy and respond to opportunities faster than their competitors.
Who is getting it right?
For many retailers currently struggling, the store estate is a key contributor. History has placed a greater value on a physical store presence than on getting the data and intel of the customer right. In contrast those retailers from a direct mail or catalogue backgroundare largely thriving. They already had the disciplines needed to survive modern omni-channel retailing – data, marketing, customer acquisition strategies and relationship building initiatives to name a few. They have simply adapted those techniques for the ecommerce world.
That’s not to say they don’t recognise the value of the high street too. Fashion retailer Joe Browns for example has opened its first store in Meadowhall, whilst Hotel Chocolat has over 150 stores. These retailers have placed their emphasis on talking to their customers – through emails, direct mailing, catalogues and physical conversations, helping them to make the right decision and resolve any problems they might have.
This is particularly true at Richer Sounds for example. In a market where its stock can be bought anywhere from a supermarket to an electrical superstore, the company thrives on personal service and investing time talking to and advising customers. They know their products and, perhaps more importantly, they know their customers too because they have the data for both to hand. Staff are empowered by knowledge and their expertise adds value to the products they sell, which is a fundamental part of their proposition.
How can I replicate this?
The benefits of a single view of customer data across the business can’t be underestimated. It helps with everything from building individual customer profiles and understanding their needs, to solving queries in a call centre. Without this, companies have to work much harder to understand their customers. But successful retailers have another common characteristic too. At their core they are customer-centric retailers – concentrating on everything from offering convenience and choice around delivery options, to understanding customer needs and wants. In summary, every element of the business is rigorously aligned to delivering the proposition across all channels and operations.
Common characteristics of successful retailing
- True omni-channel approach
- Customer centric
- A clear proposition
- Flexible and responsible philosophy
- Active across multiple territories and channels to increase overall exposure, and reduce risk
- A single version of the truth in data management and reporting
- Consistent customer communications across all touchpoints
- A clear and identifiable brand