Over the past year, retailers have been forced to speed up the transformation of their digital offerings. With this new e-commerce landscape focused on a mix of offline and online experience, how can brands get a clear strategy in place, and what technologies are most important? We partnered with Retail Week to discuss just that in a webinar.
Moderated by Retail Week’s James Knowles, we were joined by experienced industry leaders who provided their insights and views on how retailers need to adapt to master the current and future challenges:
- Jonathan Davies, Director of Digital, Three UK
- Mike Coupe, Former Chief Executive Officer, Sainsbury’s
- Victoria Betts, Chief Commercial Officer, Hotter Shoes
To give you a glimpse into our discussion, let’s look at our different views on a forward-looking e-commerce question: what is the biggest opportunity for online retailers in the next five years? I’ll take the plunge and go first, and then let’s see what our guests have to say about this.
Personally, I think the element that is still missing online is loyalty. I have four teenage kids who have obviously been doing a lot of online shopping during the pandemic, so I have quite a bit of first-hand evidence. And I noticed – also speaking to a lot of people within Endava – that it feels like we have lost some of the loyalty we had towards a particular portal or a handful of different vendors. Somehow, online shopping feels more generic and interchangeable.
So, something that we need to start addressing is the customer’s loyalty towards a specific retailer. This has always been an important issue, of course, but has now become an even bigger one. It’s weird because with the amount of data that we glean from consumers, we would expect to attract that type of loyalty, so something still seems to be missing here – and we need to find out what that is and how to use it.
PERSONALISATION & SPEED
Mike Coupe: I believe there are two areas. One is personalisation; it’s a slightly overused word but is still a key factor. The more personal you can make the experience, the better the chance that customers will come back to you. This kind of personalisation will be predictive, so it will not necessarily be based on a customer’s habits on a week-to-week basis. Instead, the value will lie in how you use your customer data to predict what people might do in the future, as well as using it as a proxy for the past.
The other area is speed: granted, it’s already been a while, but really it wasn’t that long ago that a 5-day delivery time and a dial-up modem would have been acceptable. Today, however, we have grocery services that can deliver your orders in 10 minutes. Looking at my children’s behaviour, I see that they expect that to be the norm – I want it, and I want it now. So, any business that is not focusing on speed and speed of fulfilment will get overtaken by the competition very quickly. Or, to put a positive spin on it: the faster your processes are, the further ahead you’ll be of the competition.
Victoria Betts: Expansion opportunities will no longer be confined to special offers for certain times of the day, days of the week, or certain product types, for example. So, the areas of expansion and diversification of your business proposition and models will also be able to stretch to things like your product architecture or expand your reach in terms of consumer demographic. There will be virtually no barriers to your growth opportunities, so it is very exciting that digital is continuing to grow and allows us to offer more and more solutions to consumers.
Jonathan Davies: Seeing that innovations such as food delivered to your house within 1 hour is something that we’ve come to expect, I’m with Mike on the importance of delivery at speed. Another opportunity I see is to update the e-commerce experience. If we’re being honest, it has been the same for a long time. It is very linear, particularly in supermarkets. So, the idea of reimagining the shopping experience using mixed reality media like Virtual and Augmented Reality is another item that’s high on my list. Because making shopping more fun will help to increase spend.
Considering our guests’ insightful responses and the references to speed, I think if there were only one factor businesses could start working on today, it should be becoming and remaining agile. We are seeing a shift towards headless commerce tools, which are making significant impacts. Rather than using a single product, companies are adopting a composable commerce approach of choosing the best-of-breed products and services. It’s about simple, iterative transformation – bite-size chunks to keep the business agile. Imagine being in a five-year transformation programme and then Covid hit…
View the full discussion and get many more insights in our webinar with Retail Week.