Retail Report: Unified commerce makes every moment count
We’ve all been on a rollercoaster over the past few months and I’m increasingly amazed by the resilience and imagination shown by businesses. I think my favorite example so far was my local brewery which became a drive-through at the start of lockdown in March. You’d open the boot of your car and they’d load you up with beer. Then, in a stunning feat of payments innovation, they’d stick a contactless payments terminal on a two metre-long pole through your window. It just shows, you don’t need huge investments. You just need to understand what your customers need and apply a good dose of creativity.
And that’s really what our first Up Front with Adyen UK event was all about. Using our latest Retail Report: New beginnings as a basis for the discussion, we explored some of the innovations that have been accelerated by the pandemic. We were joined by industry experts and the amazing Baroness Michelle Mone and it was an inspiring hour (despite the inevitable technical hiccups). It will hopefully provide you with some powerful and imaginative ideas for winning custom and nurturing loyalty during these difficult times.
Watch the full event below or scroll down for the highlights.
Our panel featured previous VP of Global Retail IT at Burberry and CIO of the Body Shop Jon Weg, and Head of Business Development at Eclipse, Gediminas Zalys. Here are the highlights:
Jon: “The companies that were already advanced in their digital transformation and went into the pandemic strongest, are coming out the strongest. They could already provide omnichannel experiences and had the foundations in place to pivot quickly. They could provide consistent payments experiences across channels allowing customers to pay however they want.
Being able to identify those costumes and know their preferences, however they come to them, is very powerful. They can ensure the whole journey is joined-up and it’s not dependent on a specific sales associate.”
Gediminas: “Getting the experience right is essentially the foundation you need to start with. Look at how to design the journey first and then try to enrich it along the way.
Augmented Reality (AR) is one of the newcomers now. You’re not going to get the same experience online as in store so you have to play to a different strength. AR can do something that a real environment would never allow you: You can experience products, without buying them, in your own space.”
"As we become more digitally savvy, we become increasingly discerning and are less accepting of disjointed customer journeys."
Jon: “In retail, every consumer purchase now has a digital element. Whether it’s product research, price comparison, social validation, or checking the returns policy, there’s a digital interaction. As we become more digitally savvy, we become increasingly discerning and are less accepting of disjointed customer journeys. So those retailers that are ensuring joined-up experiences, that are consistent across channels, are the most successful at the moment.”
Gediminas: "Before pandemic, it was very much user-centred/consumer-centered design. But I think what’s next is life-centered design. We’re wearing masks today, we’re recycling, not for ourselves but for a wider ecosystem. And I think that is what businesses are going to start adopting. It’s no longer just an ‘I’, it’s an ‘us’ in the grander scheme of things.”
Jon: "I think it’s all about the human connection. Brands should empower local sales associates, who’ve always had the best knowledge of the customer. Technology enables them to connect with customers throughout the journey while ensuring visibility across the whole organization. So, if the customer contacts customer services, they know all the interactions that those sales associates have had. I think that’s the next big thing that we’ll see more prevalently across the industry.
In store, we’re going to see lots of things around safety. Queuing technologies can ensure minimal people within the store and footfall solutions will ensure there are safe distances between people.”
I was then lucky enough to sit down with one of the United Kingdom’s most celebrated Entrepreneurs, Ultimo founder Baroness Michelle Mone. As we kicked off, Michelle was in the midst of voting in the House of Lords, a far cry from the tenements in which she grew up.
I did point out that our careers started in a very similar way. At the age of 10 Michelle had a milk round, and I was a milk lad in the freezing north. But our stories diverged pretty quickly. While I was having stones thrown at my window to get me out of bed, Michelle had 17 teenagers working for her by the age of 11.
If anyone knows about success in the face of adversity, it’s Michelle. So I asked her to share some of her experiences and insights to hopefully inspire us during these trying times.
"Write it all down. Swear by it. Believe in it. Keep that piece of paper and, when you get to your darkest moment, read it and remember how you felt when you wrote it.”
Michelle: “I was just so determined to succeed. I left school at 15 with no qualifications whatsoever working for local fashion companies before getting a job with Labatt’s at 19. I got my head down and worked extremely hard and was Director of Scotland for Labatt’s by 24. It was also at 24 I was made redundant so I decided to start up Ultimo and turned it into a massive, global lingerie brand, which I sold 5 years ago.
When negative things happen to you, it’s up to you if you want to turn them around or not. You’ve got to think: How can I change direction and do things I’ve never thought I’d do? How can I use my skill set in different ways? Write it all down. Swear by it. Believe in it. Keep that piece of paper and, when you get to your darkest moment, read it and remember how you felt when you wrote it.”
And some practical tips for doing business today:
Michelle: Ask your customers what they want from you right now.
You could gain more market space by targeting different age-groups. My Mum and Dad are suddenly online. This just shows you’ve got a chance to open up to a bigger market that also has money.
Another good tip is that people have started listening to radio more now. Phone up the producer of the show and offer yourself for an interview about your company going through the pandemic. That’s great free PR. You’ve got to think of ways of getting your business out there. Zoom and other platforms are keeping families connected. Retailers can use these too. If I had Ultimo I’d be doing bra classes - how to measure yourself properly. Make it as if the customer is in your store.”
Learn more in the Adyen Retail Report
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