Consumers these days are more prepared, informed, and knowledgeable about what they want to purchase before hitting the store. With digitalization, the customer experience bar has been raised higher and companies find themselves working double time to reach it. Where should they focus their energy and resources on? Retail experts share their thoughts.
“Make sure to focus on the customer and be relevant,” says Hunkemöller International’s CEO Philip Mountford. The problem with many companies is they don’t seem to know themselves or have a clear direction as to where they want to go when they compare themselves with other companies, “Don’t do what other retailers are doing. Zero in on what your customers want to happen for them.” He also warns against paying too much attention on digitalization and the millennials and then leaving the more mature customers out, “If you’re a luxury leather brand, for example, you’ve to ensure that your tools are relevant to your target market.” If, on the other hand, the target is Generation Y, then companies can go crazy with digitalization, “They’re basically 15 to 29 years old and are fixated with their phones.”
For IKEA’s Digital Business Manager Paolo Cinelli, there’s no better way of getting to know the customer than by tracing their buying process from beginning to end, and even after sales, “You’re employing end-to-end thinking when you not only think of the customer when they’re in the store but long after they leave it.” End-to-end thinking considers what the customers go through internally from just casually thinking or dreaming of an idea to finally making up their mind to go to the store to buy, “And even after that, from the store and back home, what do they remember and what help do they need?”
Millennials want to work for a company that cares for the environment. Marks & Spencer’s Global Head of Delivery Adam Elman says it isn’t easy to just tell people to be sustainable and expect them to somehow turnout that way, “We actually have to give our people the skills to be able to do this.”
Sustainability is something that Marks & Spencer is working really hard to embed in their business, “We set really clear goals, identify who’s responsible for delivery, put in place key measurements, and we understand how we’re going to track. But equally important in managing change is getting people to be sold on the idea, “We need to motivate our people and see them be enthusiastic about this, so we work really hard in communicating, engaging, and training them.”
“There’s a huge decline of somewhere between five and seven percent in European high-street visitors,” says the Hunkemöller CEO. So, how to lure customers back in the store in spite their being digitally savvy? “Stores need to be much more than a retailing box. The staff must learn new ways to up-sell, cross-sell, and how to actually make customers feel good as they leave the store.”
Transforming into a brand that millennials can get behind is a huge undertaking, “We work really closely with our customers and we involve not just the people that work for us, but also the stakeholders, our shareholders, and particularly our suppliers,” shares the Marks & Spencer’s executive.
Seven years ago, Hunkemöller created a 28-year old customer called “Ashero.” According to Mountford, she’s a product of a research done on 39,000 women with a goal to get the DNA of their most relevant consumer. The result? “We’ve seen our business changed completely, our sales turnover doubled, and profit quadrupled.”
But why go so far as make the customers fall in love with you? “Isn’t it true that when you’re actually in love, you’ll allow for a few mistakes? We want our customers to fall in love and have real empathy with our brand, so if ever a time comes when we make a mistake, we can ask for their forgiveness.”
The interviews were conducted at the Pan European StrategyForum Retail event in Barcelona, Spain, on the 21st – 22nd of April 2016. For more on our upcoming events, visit the Event Calendar»
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