Consumer centricity: Moving from push to pull

Putting a consumer at the centre of the retail experience requires re-evaluating information, supply chain and channel integration.

Influenced by exponential growth in technology and the myriad of channels available for researching and purchasing, the historical consumer centric perspective is fast becoming obsolete.

Today, it’s more a case of consumers demanding and then retailers supplying, the flipside of the model retailers have subscribed to in the past.

Consumer centricity is no longer just about offering great service, but rather surrounding and engaging consumers with your brand at all touchpoints, making it fast and easy for them to find and buy the products and services they want.

Customer centric retail

Push to Pull

When shopping was the exclusive domain of physical stores, you could largely decide what products and services to stock and market, creating and fulfilling demand by 'pushing' your offering to consumers.

Now, advertising-fatigued and social media savvy consumers look to purchase products and services on their own terms and in their own time. They tend to seek out products or services they want and then find retailers who can sell them, effectively 'pulling' the products and services they desire.

In this world, it is vital to anticipate what your customers want, and why, where and how they find and purchase products.  It is then equally important to plan and organise inventory and channels around these preferences. 

Understanding the pull

This is where retail analytics, great supply chain and integrated channels come in. The data a retail business generates becomes the basis on which to plan and organise inventory and channels around consumers.

Digital channels now provide a much richer source of data. Combined with transactional data, this offers a fuller picture of your consumer – not just what they bought, but what they considered but didn’t buy, possibly because it was out of stock or the price was too high.  You can also track how easy it was for them to find what they eventually purchased, and what research they did on the way through.

Close attention to levels of stock that sells is key to a ‘pull’ retail model.  It involves not only deciding on the products to sell and which channels they should be available through, but also ensuring continuity and reliability of supply. 

Presenting one brand and giving your customer various ways of engaging with your brand requires integrating channels and making each fast and easy to use. Just imagine the consumer experience of using a webstore optimised for small screen, with fast searching, glitch-free online purchasing, followed by collection of their purchase instore and service with a smile. 

Putting consumers at the centre of your business means constantly evolving with them. The pull of their demands remains dynamic, and to meet these changing requests, your business needs to push its offerings at the right time and through the right channels.