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Why is it now a better time for retailers to transform their businesses?


This week’s headlines, with announcements on falling profits by #Next, #TedBaker and #Kingfisher, reminded us once again that these are challenging times in #retailing. However, they are equally exciting, and there is an enormous value up for grabs for retailers who will see that there’s never been a better time to transform their business.

 

The good news is that, as the way consumers shop evolves, the model of retail is adapting with some retailers making bold moves to meet the new consumer needs and behaviour.

 

#Marks&Spencer and #Harrods have taken the opportunity to evaluate the role online shopping plays in delivering the overall customer experience, and both partner with retailers with sophisticated technology capabilities – #Ocado and #Farfetch respectively.

 

Consumers want to shop seamlessly between bricks and mortar and online; this is the primary shared objective of the partnership between Harrods and Farfetch – to ensure “digital customers receive the same exemplary service as those who visit the store.”

 

In the meantime, social is the new shop window: the place that consumers browse to find influencers to follow, ideas and inspiration. Some retailers have taken social media more seriously than others when it comes to integrating them into their #e-commerce strategy. For example, this week we read on the Guardian that 23 brands including Nike, Zara, H&M and Burberry have signed up a partnership with #Instagram allowing US users only for now to purchase products without leaving the app.

 

In cases where proximity and convenience matter, consumers still want to shop in stores, which explains why in the grocery sector innovation has focused on small urban store formats. #Aldi has followed this route with the launch of its first smaller high street brand ‘Local’ that opened in London’s Balham, and the question is how the new brand would impact the big four supermarkets if it’s rolled out to other sites.

 

According to #PCW’s 2019 Retail Outlook report, this year “shoppers will adopt a mix of coping mechanisms to shop smarter”. If this is true, the retailers who will be quick enough to adapt to the changing retail landscape and respond well to customer expectations will be the industry’s long-term winners. We have to wait and see who these winners will be.

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