It is a well established fact that non-food retailing is going through a once in a generation change. The growth of online and the search for the ‘Omnichannel’ utopia is now well documented, especially so in this Kantar Retail report.
This report sheds light on the big issues. It also wisely argues, that after all, we are still simple retailers, and as such the pre-eminient task is to have a ruthless focus on what the customer wants. The winners will be those who correctly anticipate the changing nature of customer demands. Within that, there are now some big clues to the future.
First, shops will be increasingly critical in the omnichannel race – but not just any shops. John Lewis has a huge advantage bestowed by earlier generations – they only have 42 shops, and for national leadership they think they need approximately 65, i.e. to be present in all key catchments. That is why they are building in Birmingham, Leeds and Oxford. They are following the customer who wants to be inspired, wants to be social, and wants to be advised in store.
Editing choice and providing impartial advice, either personally or virtually, will be even more crucial in these days of instant information and over provision. Partner-led model in shops, in contact centres, or in fulfillment will remain a differentiator.
Similarly, the winners must embrace technology (no insight there!), but must do so selectively. No retailer can make acceptable long-term returns by doing everything. It is now clear that fads are of little value. Real value comes in assisting the customer to use their own increasingly mobile technology and perfect the core retail processes…