The retail world is changing – so where do you invest to secure a future?
Facing one of the most competitive environments in decades, retailers need to invest in their future to survive and thrive, says PWC in its most comprehensive research to date.
The PwC 2017 Total Retail report presents the findings of nearly 25,000 online shoppers across five continents and 29 territories.
The report presents ten key areas retailers need to focus on to prosper - mobile site, talent, big data integration, Amazon strategy, telling the brand story, secure platforms, loyal customers, showrooms, authenticity, and health and wellness.
We’ve selected five investment areas, together with some ideas on how Infinity helps you to prepare for the future.
Investing in your mobile website
The mobile phone continues its surge in popularity as a shopping device, with 11% of shoppers using their mobile phone weekly to make a purchase, compared with 16% for PC, and 9% for tablet. Shopping in-store remains the most popular channel with weekly and daily shoppers.
Usage by device 2017
“Consumers are in the power position, as 2017 is a golden age of choice, convenience and demand for value, powered by the mobile phone and the global bazaar just a click away.” John Maxwell, Global Retail and Consumer Leader, PwC.
Consumers are using their mobile phones for three key parts of the shopping journey: 37% use them for purchasing, 38% for comparing prices with competitors, and 44% for researching products. The mobile phone is a triple threat, as consumers utilise it as a research tool, and shopping device, and a payment method.
The report recommends retailers optimise their customer’s mobile experience by investing in mobile sites rather than mobile apps. Retail apps are decreasing in popularity as consumers tire of downloading multiple shopping apps they use only a few times.
The ‘small screen first’ design of an Infinity Webstore ensures a highly transactional platform. As a pre- and post-purchase information tool, the Webstore provides centralised and accurate data on stock location, pricing, and promotions and more, ensuring customers have the same information no matter how they shop.
Investing in your talent
Even with the advent of online shopping, bricks and mortar retail remains a popular activity. In fact, the report shows 41% of those surveyed shop in-store at least once weekly, an increase from 38, 36 and 40% in years 2014, 2015, and 2016, respectively.
Shopping in store %
“Retailers need to strengthen the digital and operations talent in the retailer C-suite to manage shrinking store networks, more complicated supply chains, digital innovation, and launching new services to keep currently loyal customers.” Tom Johnson, principal, PwC
Furthermore, the global customers surveyed are looking for a quality in-store experience, with 78% seeking sales associates with a deep knowledge of the product range. The ability to check other store or online stock quickly was also an important factor in 68% of customers.
The report points out that executive skillsets are evolving, with a need to match the traditional expertise of managing physical stores and merchandising with digital, omnichannel, supply chain, and operations talent.
Infinity helps you to deliver a superior in-store experience. Sales associates have all the information they need at their fingertips, with Infinity’s powerful search tools giving instant access to stock location, whether it’s at the warehouse, on order or at another store. Infinity Order Management software makes the complex simple by giving you a single view of stock, customers and pricing across physical, online and mobile channels. Features such as the Order Orchestration Dashboard and Click and Collect Service ensure smooth and seamless purchasing and collection process for the customer, with data from the webstore providing Head Office with a bird’s eye view of operations.
Investing in your big data
Turning massive amounts of data into actionable insights is a huge challenge for 39% of global retailers, as reported in the PwC & SAP Retailer Survey, with a chasm existing between the data collected and the systems and processes which enable it to be translated into constructive insights.
Retailers are beginning to understand the importance of using data to gain a complete picture of a customer, with 79% of retailers working to ascertain a single view of consumers across all channels.
A gap analysis shows what is important to customers in-store does not relate positively to their satisfaction levels. Data is the missing link, with the optimal solution being one integrated platform which uses data to provide accurate and real-time information for retailers and consumers.
“The issue isn’t having enough data, especially given the vast amount of online data and offline behaviour increasingly tracked digitally. The challenge is to devise meaningful analyses that can benefit both customers and businesses… Analytical expertise is a key asset for today’s retailers, and the smart use of data can be a competitive advantage.” Denise Dahlhoff, research director of the Wharton School’s Baker Retailing Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
Infinity CPM combines sales, inventory and customer data from all your retail channels, providing everything you need to optimise inventory, price and promote effectively, and segment and engage customers. Pre-set standard retail KPIs are included so you can use your data for assessing important indicators of industry performance. The simplicity of the web-based dashboards and the complete flexibility of a customisable analytics program enable the smart use of your data to benefit your business and customers.
Investing in your Amazon strategy
Amazon is towering over the retail sector, with 56% of consumers shopping on its website. Its reach differs throughout the world, with Japan, Italy, UK, US and Germany having over 90% of the consumer share, with Brazil at 47% and Australia 37%. In China, 97% of the country’s consumers survey shopped at Tmall, their Amazon equivalent.
Amazon is changing the way people shop in two ways – the use of the website as a pre-purchase research tool and its ‘cannibalisation’ of other pureplay and traditional retailers. In the consumers surveyed, 28% said they shopped less often at retail stores due to Amazon, 18% shopped less often at other retailer websites, and 10% shopped only at Amazon.
To remain competitive, the Total Retail report suggests retailers leverage their assets and play to their strengths by:
- Leveraging in-store staff by hiring the right talent, using customer data effectively, and offering unique in-store services.
- Featuring unique, exclusive merchandise, and consider collaborations with other brands.
- Rewarding loyalty with benefits which provide the opportunity to interact with customers.
Utilising the benefits of an offline presence by making store visits inviting and appealing, connecting offline store with the online website and hosting special events to connect with the brand’s community. Ensure the in-store payment platform is efficient, so checking out is as simple and seamless as Amazon’s one-click technology.
Super-intuitive and reliable Infinity Point of Sale is fast, flexible and easy to use, so your staff can focus on exceptional customer service rather than the mechanics of processing transactions – no matter how complex.
Investing in your loyal customers
This year’s report found that 61% of shoppers were brand loyal, purchasing products they knew and liked, with 39% of shoppers preferring to buy whatever was new and different.
"Investing in an excellent website, optimized for any device, is critical.”
Retailers can further reinforce the loyalty of customers by investing in brand features such as customised offers and special deals. Private label brands – which account for almost one in five retail dollars globally – is another way to secure loyal customers.
The importance of a brand’s website was highlighted with most brand loyal shoppers saying they gain inspiration directly from a retailer through the retailer’s own website. They are less inclined to browse or purchase through multi-brand websites or social networks.
Know who your most loyal customers are with Infinity Loyalty, which provides a 360 degree view of your customers across all channels so you can consistently offer them exceptional service, relevant offers and personalised experiences. Infinity Loyalty supports points, rewards and recognition, price or currency-led programmes or more experience based ones. It supports tiered programmes to target the highest value or potential value consumers, or offer additional benefits to those prepared to pay to join a membership scheme.
Learn what the PWC 2016 Total Retail Survey discovered about customer behaviour and how to leverage their changing needs here