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Retail Review: What we learned in Q1

Where does the time go? It seems like only yesterday when the retail world was fighting to keep stores stocked and attract footfall over the Christmas period, yet all of a sudden quarterly reviews are being released and the chocolate bunnies of easter are long gone. Just like time, retail has moved at an unrelenting pace this quarter. From huge store closings to tariff-talk tensions, retailers and brands have had a lot to think about as we head into Quarter 2 of 2018.

Here of some of the key things that Myagi has learned from a turbulent Q1 for retail

Legacy ≠ Loyalty

If the last few decades have not taught you this then the first quarter of 2018 definitely should have. Retailers and brands now more than ever need to truly evaluate the service and offering they are promoting to the public. No longer is the fact that you are a recognizable name on the high street enough to capture the custom of the public. In 2018 ‘’tried and true’’ is a fool’s game…

From the myriad of ways to shop online, the drive for experiential shopping, and the sheer volume of choice on offer for consumers, the value of your name is more vulnerable than ever before. If you’re not adapting, you’re not going to be here much longer. Loyalty was once something you could build on as a business; now it is something that businesses have to compete for at every turn.

By definition:

Loyal: firm and not changing in your friendship with or support for a person or an organization…

The consumer is no longer ‘’not changing’’ in their support for, well anything– except maybe their sports teams! In the past, societal norms meant loyalty across many aspects of life was more commonplace. From people sticking in one career or job their whole lives, to the importance of marriage and religion-  the world was content with the status quo, which has been confused with loyalty and commitment. When we dig into it, it is more likely that less choice, less mobility and fewer alternatives were really what was creating a ‘loyal’ consumer base.

But since the dot-com era began, the explosion of new products disrupting traditional categories (AirBnB, Deliveroo, Uber), the rapid spread of targeted information and adverts through social media and the enhanced use of technology in the shopping experience, change is embraced as a positive.

With household names like Toys ‘R’ Us closing down and British retail giant Next recording the toughest trading period for 25 years, the need for household names to adapt and expand their service offering has become more obvious in 2018 than it has ever been.

Toys R Us UK Closure

Luddites will lose

I am not suggesting that is has taken till March 2018 for me to realise technology is the key to success in modern retail…what I am saying is that the exponential growth of technology  in retail in 2017 has led to some incredible changes that have surpassed experts predictions. Many of these have happened in the first period of 2018.

Signs coming out of the biggest retail events of the quarter (for sport and outdoor) suggest there will be no stopping the tide when it comes to increased technology in retail. Following the enormous trade shows of NRF Big show 2018 and ISPO 2018, Andrew Busby of Retail Reflections suggested that virtual reality and integrated technology will truly find a home in 2018 and those not embracing these will be left behind: “Now is the time technology is really starting to be embraced and accepted as a mainstream solution for retailers of all sizes, especially in breathing new life into physical retail. Technologies that create real value for the customer are no longer being presented as something from science fiction, but as usable and effective solutions that can enhance the shopper’s journey’ [read more from Andrew on this point here].

Similarly to the points Andrew made in his review of the NRF show, Myagi’s own takeaways from the ISPO aligned. Many other verticals have fully embraced the shift to the digital age. It’s fair to say that Sport and Outdoor have been slower to move. In an industry where in-store and back office tech was once spoken about as a ‘nice-to-have’, it’s now a ‘must-have’ if you are to compete and succeed.

It goes without saying that not every retail store or brand can afford to go ‘full-amazon’ and create till-less stores. But there are cost-effective and much needed changes that retailers can make to help digitize some aspects of their businesses. Aligning with the way millennials (who are an increasing % of employees and the consumer market) like to work and shop are some of the best ways to future-proof your business.

Things as simple as moving training to online platforms can help to increase consistency, quality, communication and scalability of brand messages reaching consumers on the shop floor. Watch how these 6 companies have found success through the online training:

 

 

Data Protection is Paramount

What started off as a hot topic in the business world due to new Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) is now at the forefront of everyone’s mind following the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica saga. The handling of personal data and the processes and practices a company has in place for protecting this is set to be scrutinized more thoroughly by authorities in 2018 than ever before.

Starting in May (mark your calendar for the 25th), the new regulations will require all businesses to analyse their data handling practices and update them to suit the new changes. One of the most obvious changes revolves around consent and the ability for consumers to have their data deleted. For marketing activities especially (i.e direct mail, email, or unexpected cold calls), a consumer must have given consent actively and freely whilst being fully informed of what they are agreeing to. Read more about GDPR for retail here.

Whilst there is no need for blind panic (yet), it is clear, from the response to the GDPR announcement and the current news cycle that outside of a select few individuals in an organisation, not enough people know how to process, track, record and secure data correctly. This has the potential to cause huge issues for your company. You can learn more about how you can make sure you and your staff are clued up on GDPR with this course.

 

 

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