Retailers: Think big, start small

Roelant Prins
Chief Commercial Officer

Try new things, learn from failures and iterate your way to success. Retailers must focus energies on small iterations to improve shopper experiences.

Quick read:

Retailers know what needs to be done in order to keep pace with today's shopper. But that doesn't make it any less daunting, especially when new developments are emerging all the time.

Focus on small, achievable goals, and gradually lay the foundation for your future success.

The good news is that you don't have to do everything at once. Focus your energies on small iterations that will improve your shopper experience now, while paving the way to future success.

To help you identify the priorities, we surveyed 2000 U.S. shoppers, 2000 U.K. shoppers and 500 U.K. retailers.

Download the US report Download the UK report


The full story:

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to find myself in a cool East London venue surrounded by some of the U.K.’s leading retailers.

There were food trucks, there was a gin and tonic bar, and the craft beer flowed. Check out the video below to see just how awesome it was ...

This event was part of Adyen Retail Therapy, our mission to understand what shoppers want, and the practical steps retailers can take to meet their demands.

During the day we explored the findings of our survey of over 2000 U.K. shoppers and 500 retailers. And also discussed what keeps retailers up at night.

It's no secret that retailers are struggling to keep pace with contactless payments, mcommerce and omnichannel shopper journeys. And all the while, delivery drones, smart devices and self-driving cars are snapping at their heels.

During a panel discussion with Terry Hunter from Astound Commerce, Adam Bialy from Sainsbury’s and Cathy McCabe from Retail Reimagined, one thing was evident: Legacy systems are strangling innovation. Finance controls the purse strings and sees investment in new tech as a cost rather than strategic investment.

Retailers need to do things differently

So Cathy posed the question: If you were starting today, what would you do differently?

Let’s forget the legacy systems, and the cost implications of rolling out new technology. Let’s wave a magic wand, and pretend you have a blank canvas.

This paves the way for a fresh approach. When we’re not bogged down by our limitations. We can focus on building for the future.

Transform your business with small iterations.

And the good news is, that this doesn’t require a huge overhaul. At least not all at once.

Our keynote speaker Matthew Sayed made the point that retailers can transform their businesses gradually. Trying new things, learning from failures and iterating their way to success.

The question is: where to start? To help retailers identify key focus areas for improvement, while laying a strong foundation for the future, we conducted surveys of both U.S. and U.K. shoppers. 

Here’s what we found:

Retailers need to embrace in-store innovation

The traditional store is alive and well. 97% of U.K. respondents are still shopping in-store and, in the U.S., bricks and mortar dwarfs ecommerce in terms of retail sales.

This is because the in-store experience is still impossible to replicate online. Successful brands have capitalized on this by focusing on delivering a sensory experience.

A visit to Rituals, for example, is like stepping into a spa; Sonos recreated living spaces to test their sound, and H&M’s new ARKET store on Regent Street serves coffee.

In side a sonos retailers store

Ecommerce pure-plays woke up to the importance of the store experience. Bonobos opened showrooms where shoppers can try on items before ordering online. And other retailers use pop-up shops to establish stronger relationships with shoppers.

Cambridge Satchel, for example, grew Black Friday sales by 124% year-on-year with pop-up shops and endless aisles.

But despite the clear benefits of the in-store experience. There are some age-old pain points still tripping retailers up.

The big one is the queue. 57% of British consumers say it is their biggest frustration, and it will drive four out of five U.S. shoppers out of a store.

Eliminate checkout queues with mPOS

Retailers that eliminate checkout queues have an advantage over their competitors. This can be achieved with mobile point of sale (mPOS) terminals, which make it possible to take a payment from anywhere in the store (a preference for 42% of U.S. shoppers). Other retailers may skip this step entirely, letting shoppers scan QR codes and checkout in app.

Other issues include items being out of stock. 42% of U.K. shoppers and 75% of U.S. shoppers want to order an out of stock item in-store.

IC Group (behind Peak Performance) gives shoppers access to the online inventory via iPads. This has been a huge success, especially for smaller, regional stores with limited space for stock.

Online optimization

We all know ecommerce is popular, and growing fast. But that does not make it immune to pitfalls.

73% of U.K. shoppers will abandon an online purchase if they believe the delivery cost is too high. And almost half of U.S. shoppers want to see an increase of on-demand delivery services.

Offering click and collect is a good way to eliminate delivery costs without eating into your margins. It also has the added benefit that shoppers (32% according to one survey) will purchase more when in-store.

Interestingly, despite the popularity of ecommerce in the U.K., many retailers still lack confidence in their online experience.

Of large retailers (500+ employees) only 3% rate their ecom store as their best shopping experience. This points to huge opportunities for those who get it right.

Less than 4% of retailers are satisfied with their apps

App usage is growing steadily, with 60% of U.K. shoppers stating that they shopped in-app, and 25% of U.S. shoppers are willing to purchase directly from a messaging app.

But here retailers are even more uncertain. Less than 4% of U.K. retailers are satisfied with their apps.

The dominant players are marketplaces such as Asos or FarFetch, which provide beautifully curated apps, offering a wide selection of brands in one place.

Successful retailer apps focus on building a community and delivering quality content, in addition to product listings.

Phone mockups of retailers shopper experience

The mobile browser vs apps debate rages on, but thanks to progressive web apps, (mobile browsers that behave like apps) retailers should be able to have their cake and eat it. 

Whether online or in-app, a quick and easy payment experience is crucial. 63% of U.K. shoppers want to have their details saved, so they can pay quickly.

This is easily managed via tokenization, which captures payment data during the first payment and uses an encrypted token to charge subsequent purchases.

Unified commerce

Every sales channel has its strengths and weaknesses. And of course the real wins are to be had by linking online with in-store and providing a unified experience across both. 

Both U.S. and U.K. shoppers are consistent in their demand for seamless cross-channel journeys. They want to:

  • buy online and collect in store;
  • buy in-store and have items delivered for free; and
  • they want to check stock online before visiting the store.

Personalization is also a hot topic. In the U.S., 50% of shoppers want location-based discounts sent to their mobile and 24% want product recommendations based on past purchases. In the U.K., 64% say they will buy more if they receive personalized in-store offers.

Investment in mobile is paramount

The ubiquity of mobile makes it the perfect vehicle for this kind of contextual marketing. It’s also ideal for anytime, anywhere shopping, becoming increasingly important as messaging app purchases enter the mainstream – making shopping as easy as chatting to a friend. So investment in mobile and getting mobile payments right is absolutely essential.

Next up: The emergence of technology like delivery drones and self driving cars, will increase the number of possible shopper journeys still further. 

Man on phone in a car on a retailers website

Step by step

We understand that the prospect of a system overhaul is daunting. And it won’t be achieved overnight. But don’t despair.

Focus on small, achievable goals, and gradually lay the foundation for your future success.

Technology partners like Adyen are here to help. We provide you with the agility to rollout new solutions, streamline your operations, and the data to evaluate your progress every step of the way.

To learn more about U.S. and U.K. shoppers download the complete reports below.

Download the US retail report Download the UK retail report