Thoughts from the webinar - From Retail To Ecommerce: Tech To Transform the High Street

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Following on from ADAMAPP webinar last week “From Retail to ECommerce: Tech To Transform the High Street” - I was excited to see such an impressive panel of retail gurus from Google, Zellebrate and Knomo & Inc Retail sharing their front hand experience whilst working with such retailers through the pandemic last year.

As retailers across the nation from large high street brands to local shops were one of the hardest hit industries to collapse, the panel shared their lessons on what they learnt working with such retailers and how we should use this experience to build back up our economy.

So, what were the panel’s front line experience working with these high street retailers - below I have shared the top insights from the panel that all type of retailers need to consider to stay profitable:

1. Shopping locally has become everyone's new reality.

The “local” Google queries were and still are the fastest growing strategies that SME retailers are optimising - especially as the UK’s restrictions are eased at a local level first - there is a huge boom to capitalise on this strategy. One of the newest steps Google implemented for small retailers was to launch the “dine out, and pick up tick” so that consumers had the ability to know very quickly which shops were still open for business, with the most popular option being customers picking up and collecting their orders in store.

Retailers that did capitalise on this strategy from the beginning, were able to continue trading throughout the lockdown by letting their customers know customers could still order their favourite cravings from the “pick up tick” notification. Starbucks anyone?

SME retailers who are not necessarily franchise chains also are a part of this equation and need to invest on their Google presence as consumers are habitually used to getting information quickly from a Google query. So the incentive is to make sure that we are driving these high quality users who are at the time ready to make a purchase and ensuring that they are directed to your page and not our competitors. But, it does not have to stop there - as lockdown rules continue to ease more and more retailers need to remind customers that they are still here and open for business after a year of restrictions by creating creative and inciting Google campaigns too.

2. Online shopping has come full circle for all our everyday and daily needs. 

Many of us must have heard the insane news around Amazon reporting how their UK sales rose by 51% during the lockdown last year in 2020.

While many other online and ecommerce retailers like Amazon soared, the high street did heavily decline from the other end of the sea soar.

Retailers like Chop’d whose clientele is predominantly the office workers at the City of London - they had to face the challenge of losing all the footfall from people working in the office to all of these workers now working from home.

In order to survive even at the base level they developed their brand’s own app to reach their typical type of clientele who is working from home and who enjoys fresh meals but is time poor. The app was successful in reaching this type of demographic and at the base level they were able to continue being a high street brand that continues to serve fresh healthy food and not become another statistical tragedy. Apps are nothing new, yet if your brand has been putting it off as a “nice to have but not necessary” option then it is very likely that this would have cost many retailers their business to close their business forever especially after lockdown number 3.

3. Fear not, the instore retail experience is not dead.

When we look at the beginning of this year - 2021 - there was a lot of pent up demand to go in store shopping.

From a psychological point of view this makes sense as we are creatures that have formally come from a physical world and inevitably we all have missed in store shopping - and especially when we were told we were not allowed to shop in store because of lockdown restriction this also made us want to even more.

Landlords and retailers therefore need to partner together to get the full business model benefits to suit both parties. One way to do this is to base the rent price of the retail space to depend on the retailer’s projected sales - and this should include everything from online sales to click and collect and of course in store - so that both parties can continue to work together.

If the collapse of the biggest UK retailer the Arcadia Group is not ringing alarm bells with landlords then it is only a matter of time till another one of the smallest hiccups that could happen in the future that will just result in another collapse of the retail system.

The system needs to be revitalised with this new “rent for sale” method to help our high street retailers - and not just continue with this old way of charging these huge rent fees.

4. Making the connection between offline and online.

The biggest take away for retailers is to make the connection between offline and online, especially with the UK’s current social distancing rules to adhere to the 2 metre rule and also the limited set number of people allowed within a store.

There has been a lot of monitoring and projecting on what retailers should be focusing on to adhere to the reduced footfall that they are legally allowed to accept back into their store currently.

What we were seeing during the early part of this year was that customers were experiencing the products in store and then later on buying it online.

Then the next challenge for retailers is to consider how to monitor the success and the ROI of their online shopping platforms.

Canada Goose for example had a look at their ad sense campaigns and from the face of it, it appeared that it was not worth their while as they were not seeing the return on investment and it was closed off.

This was until they looked at their omnichannel - where they found out that people were searching for the products that they had seen from their ads and typing the queries on the Google search to see which colours they actually wanted from the ad they just saw.

Customers are clearly showing us that they do still like to experience the product in real life, and be able to try it on in store and then come back to making their purchasing decision online in the midst of continuing to go on and browsing in between different stores in real life.

This is one of the biggest and most common flaws that retailers make when looking at their online campaigns where they are looking at the ROI at a macro perspective and not at the micro level. We need to start building the omnichannel from the way up and looking at the bigger picture too.

5. Creating the omnichannel experience.

It starts with the consumer. They want to go back in store to have the experience of shopping or browsing. Consumers need better service - they do not want a transactional experience.

There have been some very creative ways in which some retailers have driven their instores to create an exciting experience. For example, geolocation on apps is a very hot topic that is driving people in stores - whereby the customer can go online see what they like to purchase and be able to see exactly where it is exactly placed within the store - in doing so retailers can make the shopping experience fun like a game. It has been a great way to innovate the shopping experience to become part of their customers lifestyle rather than using them just as shopping. This is good transactional value.

Retailers can also dive into more sophisticated metrics from apps like this, whereby we used to only be able to measure the success of apps by how many times the app was downloaded - now we can see the number of active users per month.

Other innovative ways retailers are driving traffic back into their stores is to make the connection between the digital world to physical by offering in store cashbacks incentives so that the customer has to visit the store to reap these rewards.

Vice versa the physical retail is just as important as digital retail - email marketing has come a long way. Utilising data collection marketing to capture consumer email addresses from their online shopping website, retailers can hone on such data points to understand who engages with what emails and thereby further segment their data lists to what consumer likes which product or who prefers products at a certain price. Having this high level of information about each one of your consumers at an individual level tells us how we should communicate and market with them because we get to know what their customers want to buy.

It is incredibly powerful and not something that retailers should be missing out on.

Final thoughts

There are still a large number of retailers who are falling behind on connecting the digital world to the physical world and creating the omnichannel experience.

Are you one of these retailers who need help to start developing your omnichannel?

At ADAMAPP, we are intune with building the omnichannel experience from the ground up - we have worked with Fortune 500 retailers to SME stores at a global and local level to provide real tangible results.

Savant Technology Recruitment and ADAMAPP are working in partnership to deliver clients tech products as part of their projects as well as additional resources required on the programme with highly competitive pricing.

Please do not hesitate to get in contact for a consultative discussion on how we can help you recruit top talent to help develop your omnichannel projects.

For more information please visit www.savantrecruitment.com or contact us directly via technology@savantrecruitment.com

We look forward to hearing from you.

Julia Guesmia Market Researcher at Savant Recruitment Experts

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