Multi-channelNews & people

10 things retailers need to crack in 2015

2014 was a good year for many retailers. Phenomena such as the overseas shopper with seemingly bottomless pockets, the emergence of shopping events like Black Friday and increased innovation within retail technology, meant that the balance sheet for 2014 was quite pleasing on the eye. But all of this will count for nothing if retailers are unable to build on this progress to ensure more success in 2015.

Asif Khetani at BT Expedite has listed 10 trends that they believe retailers need to pay particular attention to in order to make the most of the year ahead.

Black Friday, Cyber Monday and media frenzied shopping events

Despite the astronomical figures reported on the back of shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there is no denying that many consumers were not pleased with how these days unfolded. From crashing websites to unfulfilled purchases, retailers will have to get their acts together across various departments to make the most of these shopping events in 2015 and keep consumers interested. There is a need for them to invest in agile infrastructure to support the offers they have available and the increased activity triggered across their various channels or risk consumers becoming disinterested in these shopping events.

The increase use of iBeacons to promote/offer personalised discounts

As mobile devices become increasingly central to the shopping experience, retailers are exploring various ways to incorporate them into their offering as another touch point for consumers. iBeacons are still relatively new, but retailers are recognising it allows them to add a layer of personalisation that they had previously been unable to achieve. The trend is away from mass marketing techniques and, instead a connection with consumers in a context that is particular to them, thus enhancing the customer relationship and in turn loyalty. iBeacons offer retailers the opportunity to do this better than any other solution available on the market.

The persistent basket

One of the biggest annoyances of online shoppers is the fact that most retail websites are unable to save shopping cart contents beyond a few hours. This means they have to go through the often tedious repeat process of locating the product they are interested in every single time they log in. Persistent basket is available on outlets such as Amazon, where customers can mark products one day with the aim of coming back for it a few days later. This might seem like an obvious gesture but it improves the customer experience, can save sales and can influence loyalty. It also helps retailers deal with the issue of abandoned shopping carts by putting the power in shoppers’ hands as to whether or not they want to proceed with a purchase.

Higher prevalence placed on personalisation (day/night, weather, geography, event-led)

Personalisation is the next big frontier for retailers as they seek to add more context to their communications and move away from one-size-fits-all mass marketing methods. With a mass of content vying for consumer’s attention, retailers are doing everything they can to differentiate themselves from competitors. With shorter attention spans and more platforms than consumers can keep up with, the retailers able to make the most of consumer’s appetite for content will be the ones that go the extra mile to connect on a personal level.

The re-emergence of the luxury fashion segment

Now that it seems the worst of the recession is over, many consumers are taking the opportunity to treat themselves to luxuries they have denied themselves over the last few years. And retailers are indulging them. 40% of high-end brands don’t sell via the web and some commentators have predicted that digital could be ‘the next China’ for the luxury industry, adding about $43 billion in sales by 2020, meaning there is an opportunity for retailers to cash in. And as most consumers now trust peer reviews more than sales assistants, it is surely only a matter of time before the 40% establish some sort of online presence to ensure that they are making the most of consumer interest.

The effect of the big Cloud players in the retail market

The rise of cloud storage services is making a huge difference across the business world and the retail sector is getting in on the action as well. Cloud is no longer just about cost reduction and convenience; agility and tangible business benefits are now some of the main reasons why many of the big cloud players are making a move into the retail industry. Cloud storage also enables big data marketing where retailers can use the information that would otherwise lie fallow to profile users through semantic analysis and algorithms, link users to products, tailor their communications as appropriate and use the algorithm created to enhance quality, and the bottom-line.

The continued importance of the mobile platform

According to some experts, mobile is the new shop window. It is arguably the most important piece of real estate in retail but a surprising amount of retailers are ill-prepared to make the most of what this platform has to offer. With 52% of time spent shopping online now done on mobile, failure to provide a customer experience to match other channels means retailers risk missing out on vital sales as a result of a an expensive act of omission.

Retailers need to be more serious about PCI

Payment cards remain a prime target for hackers and retailers are experiencing data breaches at an increasing rate. Despite this, many retailers still fail to put in place the right infrastructure to stop these breaches. Of those that do, many of them still see PCI DSS (the payment card industry data security standard) as a tick box exercise and do not implement the appropriate compliance and security measures as they were intended. Retailers need to rethink how they factor in maintaining a PCI-compliant environment, whether it’s devoting more resources or working with a managed security services provider. If this doesn’t happen, retailers risk significant financial and reputational damages.

The increasing use and benefits of customer analytics

In an increasingly saturated market, retailers are turning to sophisticated analytics tools to foster customer loyalty. Retailers are under increased pressure to analyse data in real-time and are, in turn, looking for more from their business intelligence software or business analyst.. The use of prescriptive data analytics is also of particular interest, as it gives retailers more choice in terms of actioning insight from consumer data, by recommending one or more courses of action – and showing the likely outcome of each decision.

Delivery and fulfilment

Retailers spend so much time (let alone marketing spent) on creating fans of their respective businesses. To let the customer down by not being able to deliver against the brand promise brings all that effort into question. Retailers cannot afford to let these failures happen again. Otherwise, they face the unwanted challenge of reassuring customers and rebuilding confidence. Retailers need to either work on fine-tuning existing structures or explore new ones to ensure that customers are kept onside.

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