Trends & Features

Retail is a team game: play to your squads strengths

With summer far behind us, we can look back at what was a stellar showcase of athletics in London, highlighting impressive teamwork and tactical awareness. Retailers would do well to turn many of the lessons learnt from the track into a winning retail strategy.

Omnichannel retail has matured, but in doing so, it has delivered many new challenges to retailers as they race to meet the rapidly evolving expectations set by today’s consumers. In a landscape where a handful of global retail giants set the pace for change, it’s no wonder a scramble amongst the vast majority of industry players ensues to keep up.

The rapid rise of online shopping versus in-store functionality and success continues to be hotly debated. Much of the debate takes the balance of power away from physical stores in favour of them extending more support to making online activity a success.

However, our research shows that consumers are often disappointed by both online and bricks-and-mortar shopping experiences, for different, or in some cases, very similar reasons. Compare for instance; 67 per cent of in-store shoppers versus 73 per cent of online shoppers both say they are treated the same whether a first time or regular customer.

This is where retailers can learn from the winning teams on the track. Rather than focus on short-term gains from individual departments, or allowing online to cannibalise stores, retailers need to rally for their organisation to work as a unified team to succeed.

Nurture squad strengths

Playing to individual department strengths is key to this. Assess from a customer’s perspective what the online teams are best at, and what the stores are great at delivering – then optimise accordingly to provide a seamless positive experience across all touchpoints. A good example of this is the handful of forward-thinking retailers that are moving towards ‘mixed basket’ capabilities, giving store shoppers the ability to purchase physically and digitally at the same time.

Build ‘Team Retail’

Thinking about Britain’s athletes this summer both men’s and women’s relay demonstrated outstanding team work and tactical group strength, subsequently producing an array of medals.

Unfortunately, the retail sector differs. Our research shows that 48 per cent of shoppers get frustrated by discrepancies between their online, mobile and store shopping experiences. This indicates that when working as separate departments, targets and strategies are only going to end in fragmented short-term wins and losses.

Retailers need to bear in mind that today’s consumers don’t shop with the same siloed mentality that many of today’s retail outlets have fallen into. They expect consistency and a frictionless journey across their chosen retail experience, regardless of what channel they browse or buy in.

The sooner retailers foster crossdepartmental collaboration, the better for the future of retail.

Unify with technology

Today’s visionary retailers recognise the value of innovative technology to achieve an exemplary omnichannel shopping experience.

In the case of the aforementioned ‘mixed basket’ shopping, point of sale store associates view items that customers have not yet purchased in their online basket and process these alongside their store purchases.

This is a great example of how point of sale technology also becomes a tool to merge channel efforts. After all, consumers shop for certain items on specific channels, but still demand a single experience.

Get set, go!

In retail, there isn’t a final finish line or a gold medal. Keeping pace with how consumers shop is an ongoing effort working towards providing better experiences for the customer. Rather than chasing individual short-term channel goals, the retailers who focus on delivering a seamless shopping experience are the ones who will consistently win. Adopting the right technology is key to this; too many retailers are stood still, staring down the barrel of the starting gun. It’s time for Team Retail to win.

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