Tag Archives: Opinion

Customers want service not sci-fi from high street retailers

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We all know the 2019 outlook for brick and mortar retail looks troubled and indeed it’s barely a month into the year and we’ve already seen Patisserie Valerie collapse into administration. Are we surprised? You only need to look at the makeup of the high street to see the extraordinary amount of competition facing a business like this coupled with the fact that the business hadn’t changed much since its launch. It needed to adapt and if brick and mortar retailers focus on aligning their strategies to current market conditions and take on board what customers say, a one size fits all decline isn’t inevitable.

We recently conducted a survey ‘Service, not Sci-Fi’ that looked at the reasons people were turning away from retailers but also how they might turn back. While cost cutting and staff consolidation might be the first response to disappointing figures, our survey showed this could have an immediate detrimental impact on sales. Our study found that 81% of UK shoppers felt that personal touch had disappeared from retail customer service in modern Britain. Almost a third (32%) blamed an over-reliance on technology for this decline. And half of those polled thought that companies in the UK use technology to save money, rather than improve customer experience.

Despite living in a world driven by technology, most people don’t want technology to sacrifice human opinion and experience. Only 30% said they would like to see ‘smart pricing’ initiatives adopted by retailers, where prices change in real time depending on demand, 22% would like to see smart mirrors that show a 360 view of themselves, 16% desire a VR changing room, while 14% want AR for visualise products at home and 9% seek a talking robotic assistant.

When asked what makes a great brick and mortar shopping experience, half of those polled said it was down to having good staff on the shop floor; staff that know the products (49%) and staff that go the extra mile (47%). Coupled with this, 61% of the nation would prefer to deal with someone face-to-face when complaining, while 59% liked a human interaction when enquiring or trying to find out more about a product and 73% wanted to see someone when being issued with a refund.

And back to the impact on the bottom line – a third of Brits say that the personal touch is more likely to encourage them make a repeat purchase, and more than a fifth (22%) claim they always spend more money in a shop if they are served by a good assistant, incrementally adding to sales. Over a third (34%) of shoppers stated that a poor experience has driven them to buy from another retailer.

The research also highlights the impact of the decline of local retailers, with a quarter of Brits saying they miss shopping somewhere where people recognise them and 16% confessing to preferring talking through a purchase with someone in-store, while a quarter reveal that online shopping is less fun than buying something in a real shop. The convenience of a store’s location is also important according to 43% of respondents which means that retailers should consolidate their estates. Many will notice immediate effects. This only emphasises the need to carefully consider the experience provided in-store and whether their staff can deliver the expected experience.

With traditional retail under more pressure than ever and an astonishing 81% of people feeling that the personal touch has disappeared from shopping, businesses need to focus on their customer experience strategies to keep people coming back for more.

To read the article please visit The Drum.

To read more about our Service not Sci-fi research please visit the Gekko website.

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First steps for Mothercare: will it save the troubled brand?

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A couple of weeks ago British retailer Mothercare released its first significant ad campaign in a decade entitled ‘First Steps’ intended to capture those first moments parents experience. This campaign comes following the news that the retailer will close 50 of its 139 stores by June 2019 with 900 potential job losses. This decision is driven by the fact that the longstanding brand experienced pre-tax loss of almost £73 million for the financial year to March 2018 and it’s just announced blooming half-year losses. So will the First Steps campaign assist to turn the retailers’ fortunes round?

The campaign must be applauded for being very ‘real’ -using images and models which resonate perfectly in the ‘real’ world. Avoiding the Instagram perfection and clichés many may be led to believe are indicative of motherhood and parenting, it has a comforting reality of life across any demographic and nationality. However, for me, it doesn’t speak to a wider audience and as a ‘turnaround’ campaign, the message needs to be broader to attract all pockets to come and spend in-store.

The ads are articulated beautifully, drawing on the raw emotion of being a parent and it will resonate with parents or those expecting, no doubt drawing them into or back to the brand. However, the ad seems to have forgotten people who aren’t in the same position, perhaps an aunt, uncle, godparent or friend who has not yet or has no desire to experience parenting, whom therefore may not share the same emotional connection.

They are also potential shoppers, some may argue with more disposable income, who also need to be attracted to the brand to spend. The wider the appeal of the ad, the more it increases the odds to attract shoppers of any kind. Surely, this should be the objective of this desperately needed turnaround campaign which is all about increasing sales.

In the UK the average annual birth rate is 670,000 births (Office of National Statistics) and the market value for this sector is £7.3bn and estimated to grow by 2021 +2.3% in clothing and 4.4% in Footwear (Euromonitor) and research from 2017 indicates that 64% of shoppers prefer to touch and feel products in this category, 48% prefer to research products in-store resulting in 58% of sales created in physical retail (Pragmarket). The opportunity for growth is therefore evident for any retailer in this sector, especially an established brand like Mothercare, as while it’s unlikely that the nation will stop giving birth, people can be influenced where we shop.

The customer experience must reflect the emotional journey the brand takes its audience through in these ads and translate it onto the shop floor. The creative and sentiment that’s applied to the ad, the real and caring traits it communicates must be applied to staff, the store layout, its ranging, staff training and the advice they give to a new and likely tired parent or complete novice when shopping for infants.

A clear message which translates from ATL to the in-store experience is crucial to ensure a clear measurement of ATL and to convert awareness to revenue. A successful ATL may well bring customers back but a poor customer experience may make that crucial first hello, the last.

And here’s the real dichotomy for Mothercare, do they invest more money in the remaining estate to make the shops a truly engaging experience and destination for people or leave them wondering what their role is in the ‘real world’ – I know which strategy my money is on!

For the full article visit The Drum

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Wearable tech could be very lucrative with the right execution

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Britain is a country with a passion for the latest technology. Consumption figures are huge with Britons spending £9billion on new tech devices. Clearly, this underlines just how present gizmos and gadgets are in our daily lives. What this figure also represents is a healthy sector that is ripe for the picking and one that technology and electronic retailers operate in. However, with the dawn of another year new tech trends are making themselves known and retailers must be abreast of them in order to get a slice of a lucrative market.

At the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas many new devices made an appearance. One of this year’s stars looks to be a Bluetooth-enabled toothbrush from Kolibree, which will tell your phone how “efficiently” you’ve been brushing your teeth, and for how long.

Technology by its very nature is an ever evolving sector, with the new quickly replacing the old and all but the most tech-adverse consumers wanting to keep abreast of what is coming on to the market. This desire to have what’s hot and new is one of the reasons why 2014 looks like it will be the year of wearable technology products. Beyond the constraints of the typical mobile phone or tablet, wearable tech means products that are not only portable, but are hands-free. Think of Google’s Glass or Samsung’s smartwatch. Much more than a straightforward time keeping device, the smartwatch is a transportable tech hub giving users access to all their data points, conveniently located on their wrist. In essence, its convenient aspect complements the general rhythm of the wearer’s everyday life.

This lifestyle-based approach is often targeted towards the health conscious. Personal health and wellbeing will be important factors in all wearable devices as consumers try to rationalise buying ‘gadget bling’ under the pretext of it improving their health and fitness. Take the Fitbit Force, a newly released wristband that learns your daily activity, calories burned, your sleeping patterns and weight. The brand understands that to be successful, wearable tech must not only chime with consumers’ lifestyle needs but also present a level of desirability. The consumer must genuinely want to buy the product and that usually means presenting it more as a lifestyle item and less like a complicated piece of technological innovation. CES has also shown that wearable technology and the connected health category now even extends to your pets, with US tech firm Voyce announcing a smart collar for dogs.

There is also a significant trend to manufacture tech with a more obvious focus on fashion and style. There were clear examples at CES to demonstrate that tech companies are starting to think about fashion and design. The Netatmo June bracelet is made with Louis Vuitton and Camille Toupet-designed jewels that track your sun exposure. There was also the MetaWatch, designed by ex-Fossil engineers and made with expensive metals and classic leather wristbands. However, the most noteworthy wearable at CES was the Pebble Steel smartwatch. It’s designed to be worn with either a stainless steel band or a genuine leather strap, forgoing the ostentatious sportiness of the original for a modern, sleek look – essentially embedding a level of customisability to match its style nous. Its designer Steve Johns said that the new design was influenced by both traditional watches and modern technology like mobile phones. This is a balancing act that may prove difficult, but will ultimately be what the consumer is looking for.

But what does this mean for the retailer? Clearly the fashion-focused watches represent the apogee of interactive but stylish consumer technology. However, it also represents that the more accessible, wearable tech items are of primary interest to the retailer. These devices that have a strong consumer lifestyle element mean that retailers are in the privileged position of being able to sell big-ticket items that have an inherent level of desirability. This means that these products are relatively simple to sell; retailers just need a structured through-the-line approach with multiple touchpoints in order to exploit them. Get the execution right and this new trend could turn out to be very lucrative indeed.

read the full article at http://www.pcr-online.biz/news/read/opinion-wearable-tech-could-be-very-lucrative-with-the-right-execution/033011

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