Publicis Sapient launches ‘Guide to Next 2022’, and calls on retailers to address five key issues to transform into ‘shopper-first’ organisations

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Digital transformation consultancy Publicis Sapient has released its inaugural ‘Guide to Next’ report with a focus on the global retail industry. The report highlights the trends that retail companies must focus on in the year ahead to transform their businesses into ‘shopper-first’ organisations.

Andy Halliwell, Head of Retail, UK at Publicis Sapient said: “For nearly two years, retailers have faced COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, resulting in a surge in e-commerce that has changed consumer expectations and the role of physical stores. Further to this, the supply chain crisis has resulted in consumers relying on retailers now more than ever, despite critical stock shortages.

“While the shift to online shopping shows no signs of slowing, with 93% of consumers reporting that they plan to shop online more or the same amount in the future as they do right now, stores can still play a critical role in the consumer shopping journey. Retailers need to be thinking about innovating ways to tackle current obstacles.”

TOP FIVE THINGS RETAILERS NEED TO DO IN 2022 TO TRANSFORM INTO SHOPPER-FIRST ORGANISATIONS

The report identified 5 key imperatives:

Optimise returns 

With a continuing increase in online shopping, comes an increase in returns. By truly knowing the customer, retailers can get ahead of returns. Publicis Sapient research found that:

  • Only 38% of shoppers are satisfied with the ability to try on and try out products online as online retailers can’t easily replicate the experience of trying on or trying out a product in person.
  • 46% of people said that when shopping online, they are more likely to buy from a brand that offers an easy way to manage returns.

By truly knowing the customer, retailers can get ahead of returns. Data is key to improving customer experiences and operational efficiency.  Retailers need data about their products and insights into how customers are buying and returning their products so that the data can be fed into the customer experience.  Providing as much information as possible about products will help customers make better purchase decisions. In the case of apparel, retailers should use data to ensure that, from the start, a product fits the customer. Returns can be prevented with better customer experiences.

Evolve as platforms to create one-stop shopping for customers - significant number of customers want a wide selection in one place

According to Publicis Sapient research, the future winners of retail will be those who build a connected ecosystem of related services that customers can engage with through one seamless experience. Shoppers want to interact with retail brands that offer convenience. Retailers that create value-enhancing, differentiated ecosystems can provide a range of items specific to their category, which can become a convenient “one-stop shop” for consumers. The research found that:

  • Nearly half of shoppers (49%) chose to buy from online marketplaces (etsy, eBay, Alibaba, Shopee).
  • 39% of shoppers were more likely to buy from a marketplace that offers a wide selection of products. Instead of bouncing around from website to website, shoppers can manage multiple needs in one place, with a retailer becoming the go-to destination for both owned products and ancillary services.

Transform to financial services companies to remain competitive

Many retailers today are offering financial services or connecting customers with financial services providers as a natural extension of their retail function of buying and selling consumer goods.  They’re creating a new ecosystem that serves a large demographic that they currently cater to in retailing.  By leveraging technology and the vast data they have on their customers, retailers are unlocking a large customer base that is either under-banked or has no current banking relationships but still needs financial services like loans, advice, or payments.  From digital wallets to banking, customers will have their own personal CFO in their back pocket – a one-stop shop for all their financial needs while still being connected into the retailers’ larger business suite.

Monetise data to increase brand engagement and sales

There are many ways a shopper can engage with a brand, and each avenue provides an opportunity to deliver personalised communications. According to Publicis Sapient research:

  • 37% of shoppers who buy online would like personalised offers based on spending preferences.
  • 31% want personalised content/advice to help them shop. Retailers must break down data silos within their organisation to gain a clearer view and better understanding of their customers’ preferences.

The report highlights the necessity of connected data from point-of-sale transactions, website traffic, email engagement, and media impressions. This enables retailers to create targeted campaigns, personalised offers, and customer-centric products and services, which ultimately can result in increased brand engagement and sales.

Deliver better store experiences

Over the last 18 months, retailers have faced lockdowns and restrictions, resulting in a surge in e-commerce that has changed consumer expectations and the role of physical stores. Retailers must reimagine their existing store footprint to meet new consumer demands, offer differentiated experiences, and drive brand loyalty. In 2022, a seamless integration of online and offline channels will be critical to success.  

  • According to Publicis Sapient data, 55% of consumers indicated that they sometimes go to a physical shop to check out an item before purchasing it online.

Retailers need data about their products and insights into how customers are buying and returning their products so that the data can be fed into the customer experience. Providing as much information as possible about products will help customers make better purchase decisions. In the case of apparel, retailers should use data to ensure that, from the start, a product fits the customer. Returns can be prevented with better customer experiences.

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