How technology is changing the future of retail
The reality is that the world of retail is changing. Last year Britain’s top high streets lost a record net of 2,481 shops. Consumer expectations are evolving, and tech is moving at such a rapid pace that it’s enabling a completely new customer experience. Our four experts in retail took a deep dive into what’s next for the retail industry and how technology will shape its future.
POQ: James Springham
POQ is a platform that enables retailers to launch apps. James’ talk discussed how mobiles and more importantly mobile apps will define a retailer’s success.
92% of the time we spend on our phones is in apps – we’re living in a native world. While most brands are now app native, James was quick to point out how retail has been slow to adapt. Winning retailers are the ones who are app first – Missguided, ASOS, Pretty Little Thing (to name a few) – and that’s because shoppers are not only shopping more on apps rather than desktop, but they’re spending more on them. So, want a stronger relationship with your customers? You really need an app.
James went on to cover how shoppers interact with apps. Sunday is surprisingly the day when most of us are downloading apps. When it comes to the most important periods for retailers, like Black Friday and Christmas, it’s imperative retailers are front of mind – push notifications help with this. James disclosed that in November retailers send 23% more push notifications to app users and because of this there is a 13% increase in app open rates – with 64% of these push notifications leading to sales.
Closing on a deep dive into Black Friday itself, James showed us how daily app revenue throughout Q4 is highest on Black Friday – six times higher than any other day. Across the all important Q4, consumers spend 5x more time in-app than they do on desktop and app shoppers give retailers over 3x the amount of revenue per month than desktop shoppers do.
Ultimately an app shopper is worth more to your business than a desktop one.
Outside In-novation: Jonathan Vaux
Jonathan’s talk focused on the voice of the customer. He kicked things off by stating that often in retail there is far too much focus on tech and not enough on the outcome. He identified how times have changed. We’re witnessing the race to the interface – if there’s not a good reason for the customer to come to you then they won’t.
“Retail will change more in the next five years then it has in the last fifty – and it will be technology that shapes this.”
The good news is that tech will bring more choices and capabilities but what the retailer really needs to look at is, ‘What can technology do for your customer?’
Jonathan advised retailers to understand the moments in the journey that matter for the customer. Ensure the interface is fit for purpose, what’s best for the customer – desktop or mobile?
Look at the role of your retail space. Empower your staff – how can they add value? Jonathan discussed the inevitable rise in spend when a customer feels a connection with a sales person in store.
Depop: Thomas Evans
The fashion marketplace focused on the next generation. Buy, sell, inspire – Depop is a cross between eBay and Instagram. Beginning as a humble start up in Italy, Depop has now generated over £200 million, has enabled the sale of over 1 million+ items on its platform and has 1 million+ daily app users.
Tom discussed how technology has helped Depop’s community and the next generation change retail. Highlighting that whilst tech is an enabler, it’s the people that drive the change.
Tom went on to give examples of people who are driving change and using Depop’s platform to do so:
Lucy & Yak, who recognised a niche market in dungarees on Depop – tech has enabled them to create a huge business that previously wouldn’t have been possible.
Passtrash have gone from two sisters photographing fashion in their bedroom to becoming one of Depop’s biggest sellers.
Tech has literally enabled them to become a business from the comfort of their own home. Depop has also enabled a closer connection between buyers and sellers.
For the next generation of consumers, sustainability, ease and speed of experience is what’s most important. Depop at the moment is working on making their payments as easy as possible but it’s their community that drives how Depop thinks when it comes to payments.
Sellers want an easy set up, they want to be able to withdraw money as fast as possible. Buyers want to be able to pay via their favoured methods, they want payments to be secure, mobile and the best in class for UX.
Tom concluded by saying how serving the community well, will have a positive impact on your brand.
Beyond Analysis: Nicole Richardson & Brian Geary
In a similar vein to what Jonathan touched on, Nicole and Brian’s talk focused on how retailers can use data to understand their customers more and drive sales.
Setting the retail scene, Nicole stated how access to data and the quality of data available is frustrating for retailers. That’s why Beyond Analysis provides data science and analysis to help their clients understand and unlock the power of their data.
When it comes to data, retailers either don’t have enough or they have so much, they don’t know what to do with it. The right amount of data needs to be provided and displayed easily so retail teams can utilise the information to grow sales.
Brian concluded that every retail business wants to be customer centric. For companies to truly embody this they need to be able to anticipate their customer’s needs. What do they want and when do they want it? Data can help achieve this.
Post Office: Nicholas Spicer
Nicholas in this session talked about the sheer size of the Post Office, its mission statement and how it plans to stay relevant in a digital world.
The Post Office has 25,000 branches and outlets in the UK. 93% of the UK’s population lives only three miles away from a Post Office and the company now offers 170 products and services to its customers. The Post Office really is a fabric of British life.
To stay relevant in an ever-changing retail world Nicholas told the room how the Post Office has invested heavily in a platform as a service model. As its branches are still very much at the heart of the Post Office’s operations, the focus has been how the in-store experience can be improved. That’s why the Post Office has moved to self-service kiosks for convenience in branch and Nicholas said how this trend will continue to be rolled out throughout the UK.