Retailers Buck the Downward Trend

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A recent report from Office of National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that online spending in clothing stores increased from 14.7% in March 2017 to 17.6% in May 2018, setting a new record. Indicating that, despite the doom and gloom in some parts of the retail sector, many retailers are bucking the trend and capitalising on the shift to digital channels.

Although the rise in online spending is fantastic news for retailers, only those with highly optimised, mobile focused online stores will reap the benefits. This is according to eCommerce systems integrator Tryzens, who has urged retailers to review and update their digital capabilities if they are to secure their part of the customer wallet.

Speaking about the latest ONS report, Andy Burton, CEO of Tryzens, said that “Retailers that have focused on honing their online offerings are clearly being rewarded for their efforts and this latest report is indicative of the fact that there has never been a better time to leverage the power of eCommerce. Despite economic conditions and market uncertainty, British consumers are still spending and are increasingly heading to digital channels to fulfil their shopping needs. However, retailers that have neglected their digital offering will continue to miss out to their competitors who engage and provide seamless customer experiences to their customers.”

In a recent episode of Comms Business Live, Editor David Dungay spoke to Mike McMinn, MD of Marston’s Telecom, Lee Shorten, Group Chairman of Sabio, and Steve Bieniek, Business Development Manager at Paymentsense about the retail sector. The panel discussed how the Channel can leverage the changing retail landscape and take advantage of the new opportunities which are presenting themselves.

Burton commented: “The key is for online retailers to start with the basics. With smartphones being the dominant access point, and mobile commerce, social media and Apps driving engagement and growth right now, many retailers are rightly designing their online experience with a mobile first approach foremost in their mind. Going beyond just responsive design to make it easier for consumers to browse, search and select and purchase. But given that the majority of online purchases will involve multiple channels and customer journeys, more is needed to succeed. Retailers must ensure they have a cohesive omnichannel strategy, that enables consumers to have an engaging and integrated experience whether instore, on mobile or shopping via social media. A strategy that recognises a customer as a unique individual regardless of how and where they shop, as well as provide a seamless view of products and inventory to maximise the opportunity for a sale.”

“Retailers that enhance and continuously optimise their websites, as well as leveraging customers’ data to deliver more personalised experiences to boost trading performance, will continue to outshine those that don’t. As we approach summer sales, brands need to ensure that their customers’ buying journey through online and social channels is heightened to remain competitive.” Burton continued.

“The continued investment in online may be apparent but it is also critical, long gone are the day when you invest in a product as a one-off capital expenditure. Consumerisation in all its forms continues to challenge the way retailers need to respond to new trends in technology and new shopping habits. This in turn requires that ecommerce platforms remain agile, scalable and flexible to continuously and efficiently adapt, in order to ride, or indeed lead, consumer demand.”

“Even though consumers’ online spending is growing faster than it did in 2017, inflation, Brexit-related uncertainty, and potential interest rate rises will impact confidence in future performance and for some heighten risk factors facing retailers. Doing nothing though is not a viable option, ecommerce is the growth engine of fashion retail and therefore having a confident, intelligence based, roadmap that can be AB tested and delivered in swift sprints is increasingly the goal to pursue.” he added.

Burton concluded: “Even in testing times, making informed decisions around personalisation, mobile engagement and real-time analytics are all valid examples that are crucial to maintaining a strong performing online operation for retailers. Data-driven eCommerce strategies mean retailers can constantly assess trading performance, respond to changes in a timely manner and enhance the customer experience and overall journey with the brand. Ultimately things are looking very strong ahead, the UK is a ‘tech-savvy nation of retailers’ and we can play to our strengths to continue to lead in the global market that many British brands now serve because of the power of ecommerce. There has never been a better time for investment in eCommerce to drive growth and protect the business from the challenges of any potential storms on the horizon.”

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine