The bigger picture is that consumers and retailers have tightened their belts over the last few months; the cost-of-living crisis, higher inflation, fuel and food prices rising and a mixed bag of political and ongoing global issues are still impacting the industry. Internal costs have increased across the board, so retailers I’m talking to are spending more to achieve the same sales. However, the IMF have said in the last few days that we are not recession danger zone. The latest OECD figures show that spending is still slower than retailers would want, but it is definitely picking up.
Cautious optimism is the key phrase here.
Certainly, from clients I’m talking too, online sales have slowed slightly this year. Was this to be expected? Did we really think that the boom of lockdown would continue unchallenged?
The good news (and really no surprise) is that many of the retailers that are seeing a slight dip in their ecommerce sites are seeing an increase in sales within their physical stores. Consumers are confidently moving between channels- and we should be really proud that we’ve enabled that! The reality is that consumers are looking for a fluid, agile experience- buying online and picking up instore. Seeking advice instore and getting goods delivered to them at home. We’re in the age of interactive experiences across channels that meet the needs of the consumer- not just of the brand. We see brands such as Kilkenny Design live streaming from store into your home on a Thursday night, it’s bringing the theatre of retail into your home driving customers to buy online.
Coupled with this idea of consumer led channel hopping, comes the realisation that were deep into the expectations economy. So if your customer journey on or offline is poor or fractured, your returns policy isn’t transparent, if your chatbot is poorly programmed then you’re clearly telling your customer that they are not important. Remember research tells us that 68% customers leave a retailer because they believe the retailer doesn’t care. Not because the competition has enticed them away, but because they believe that you don’t care. So, to proactively meet the customer head on in this new age of the expectations economy, you need to deliver superior customer experiences, be truthful, transparent and honest and of course continue to sell the best products possible.
Stock availability, supply chain difficulties- so whether it’s because of drastic price increases with fuel, raw material so on- we’re still seeing this hangover of issues with our pipelines. The impact is still obvious with gaps instore and online. It’s impacting the merchandising solutions and comms across retail. Coupled with the ever-increasing returns issue, we seem to have the wrong stock in the wrong place at the wrong time. This has to continue to be a focus for future proofing our offerings.
So they are just 3 of the things that are interesting retailers at the moment….