Retail Technology: The Future
31st Oct 2014
Photo credit: My Retail Media
The key to successful selling for any retailer is simply understanding one's customers – what it is they want and how best to provide them with it. One of the most common research modes is data collection, which raises the question of how best to analyse enormous amounts of information. Companies can access the views and advice of consumers and suppliers with great ease, but the correct analytics tools are necessary in order to properly understand the data they are presented with.
The collection of information en masse first occurred notably through airlines, which, since the 1980s have operated frequent flyer programs which allowed customers to utilize their trips, as well as form a bond with the brand. The method was brought to a broader market in 2002 when Nectar – the UK's biggest loyalty scheme – was launched. Since then e-commerce has become increasingly prolific, and brands are always searching for effective methods of understanding big data.
Reputation is an imperative factor, and certainly the more innovative companies have reaped the benefits. The combination of online shopping with bricks-and-mortar stores can both help and hinder one another, and present previously unexpected opportunities. An example of this is the idea of “show-rooming” - where consumers test out stock in-store but make the actual purchase online, which has hurt various sectors financially, particularly the electronics sector. Retailers need to close the sale whatever the method, be it physical or e-commerce.
All online browsing leaves a trail that brands can investigate – Twitter for example is being used currently by the music industry to put marketing campaigns in place, as well as combat piracy. Geographic locations can even be recorded, so musicians can see where they are the most popular and how this correlates with sales. This is also possible with bricks-and-mortar retailers, when consumers connect to the wifi in shopping centres, and therefore help with issues such as staff placement and layout of the store. American department store Macy's take this to a higher level, by tracking stock using radio frequency identification (RFID), in an attempt to bring together the online and physical platforms. Consumer satisfaction is improved by this unity, as, if a piece of stock is unavailable in one store/online it can be found elsewhere and delivered.
Information from a specific individual can also be a tremendous boon – especially when people give product reviews and steer other shoppers towards certain stock through the use of mobile devices. One recent issue has been the lack of necessity for store cards, as they come with clear consent forms, though so far it seems as if consumers are happy to provide tracking technologies with their consent for a catered-to, thoughtful experience in return, in the style of store loyalty cards.
Big data has been used from a manual perspective for a while now, by facilities workers who are able to keep track of all areas of their bricks-and-mortar sites. Any facility problems, lights and heating can all be altered remotely. Electronics platform Arduino formed a partnership with Intel in order to create a good-value development board, so that all aspects of the building sector can be controlled through the use of the cloud, made even simpler with the increasing usage of smartphones and tablets, and increasing the power individuals have over their business property.
The most attractive aspect of this new data technology is undoubtedly the chance to estimate consumer’s behaviour patterns and provide accordingly. The combination of e-commerce and bricks-and-mortar allows for a far deeper insight for brands into customers' habits, allowing for a more personal, satisfactory service. However it is imperative to know when to prevent research becoming intrusive – a feeling of persistence or a breach of privacy would put a shopper off a retailer for life. This idea begs the question – where can retail technology go next? So many advances have been made in recent years, and a personal, attentive experience that caters to the individual is already widely available, with shoppers not even needing to change webpage to make a purchase, let alone leave their home. How far, one wonders, will retailers go to attract new customers, and just how imaginative can they be?
My Retail Media
Food retailers have to adapt or risk collapse, report finds
29th Oct 2014
Ernst & Young (EY) published a report this week on profit warnings issued by UK-listed companies in the third quarter of 2014. The headline fact in the report was undoubtedly that this quarter saw the most profit warnings issued in the period since 2008. Food retailing played something of a starring role in the report, with 15 per cent of FTSE Food & Drug retailers issuing warnings.
EY commented in their highlights that, “the pace of structural change in the UK economy is epitomised by food retailing, currently in the midst of a generational shift in spending patterns.”
Retailers in for a sweet deal this Halloween
27th Oct 2014
It’s the holiday that just keeps giving, as retailers gear up for a £330 million boost from Halloween sales this week.
Despite being a traditionally North American affair, it seems the British consumer’s appetite for trick or treating, fancy dress and pumpkin carving is still far from satisfied, as this year’s Halloween sales are expected to be among the biggest ever seen. The All Hallows’ Eve date is now the second largest retail festival in the UK after Christmas, with demand for pumpkins (a useful bellwether for the scary delights of 31st October) up 35 per cent this year, with 95 per cent expected to be carved into lanterns and just 5 per cent used for soups and stews.
Don’t shoot the messenger: Should internet service providers police counterfeit websites?
23rd Oct 2014
In the fight to crack down on counterfeit goods and fake websites, are internet service providers (ISPs) accountable? A new ruling last Friday by the High Court of England & Wales is likely to become a landmark case for luxury brands and consumers, after Justice Richard Arnold ruled that ISPs, also known as “intermediaries whose services are used by a third party to infringe an intellectual property right”, should police trademark infringement at scale.
In Remembrance: The astonishing career of Oscar de la Renta
21st Oct 2014
Few designers could evoke the outpour of affection and respect from the fashion industry that arrived this morning alongside the news of Oscar de la Renta’s death. Having proved a worthy match to the cancer he fought since 2006, the revered fashion designer passed away in his home in Kent, Connecticut, this week, due to complications from his battle with the disease. Born Óscar Arístides de la Renta Fiallo in the Dominican Republic in 1932, the artist left his home country to travel to Spain at 18.
John Lewis, Zalando and House of Fraser examine what the future of retailing means to them at #IRC14
15th Oct 2014
They may be giants in their own respective fields, but John Lewis, House of Fraser and Zalando all agreed on one thing yesterday: no one can be sure what the future of retailing holds, even for the big guns. Back in 2008, you’d be hard-pushed to find some common ground between House of Fraser and Zalando.
House of Fraser tops the e-commerce charts the second year running
13th Oct 2014
“Strategic multichannel consultancy” Practicology have just carried out their third Website Usability Report, which rates 25 UK e-commerce sites on fulfilment choices, site performance and user experience. This year House of Fraser ranked extremely positively, and was the only brand to maintain it's position from last year.
John Galliano at Margiela: why he's the perfect choice
9th Oct 2014
Three years since he was banished from the fashion world after a nasty and highly publicised anti-Semitic rant brought about his spectacular fall from grace, John Galliano is about to make a comeback. The flamboyant pariah has been appointed Creative Director of Maison Martin Margiela- a brand known for its stripped-back, utilitarian image. Galliano, renowned for his dramatic Dior couture creations and his penchant for closing shows dressed as a pirate, strikes one as a surprising choice.
From the weekend: Protests add fuel to fire for Hong Kong’s embattled luxury retailers
6th Oct 2014
‘How do you solve a problem like China’ has been on the mind of foreign luxury retailers for some time. With the shift in consumer behaviour from ostentatious European luxury labels to a focus on more subtle forms of consumption, the slowdown in sales has hit mega brands like Prada and Gucci while they’re down.
Omni-channel or overwhelming?
30th Sep 2014
The future of retail marketing is here, and it’s omni-channel. Namely, a stronger focus put upon the customer experience – their satisfaction and engagement with the brand, through a variety of channels. How successfully this is carried out is down to the marketers.
The creation of new technology has pushed the boundaries of retail and e-commerce far beyond a simple website, now the marketing concepts of Place and Promotion are more evident through personalised banners on devices and micro-location offers. With this new creative capacity, however, comes greater opportunity for error.