Hello. We have only just met but I am going to ask you what you have in your pockets - a little like Gollum. I’ll wager you have a mini-computer - nearly three-quarters of UK consumers do, in the form of a smartphone. Did you know 60% of consumers use a search engine on a weekly basis via these devices [Google Barometer] to seek out information and inspiration?
That’s just one way consumer behaviour has changed in the past 10 years. A decade ago the iPhone did not exist, contactless payments via card or phone were undreamt of and transactions via websites were miniscule. Now, e-commerce is fully established and UK online retail sales are predicted to grow to £52bn this year [Centre for Retail Research].
There are a variety of touchpoints where consumers can encounter your brand, from interactive digital billboards to a mobile-optimised website.
The aim of retailers should be to make the journey to purchase as frictionless as possible. Successful businesses need to meet the expectations of the modern consumer for relevant information, an ‘always-on’ mindset, omnichannel delivery and the ability to pay for goods in a way that suits them.
I do not underestimate the vastness of the task the grocery sector faces in overhauling its digital capabilities and I have witnessed the upheaval first hand as I worked for DSGi on brands such as Dixons.co.uk.
In the past decade, every aspect of retailing, from logistics, inventory control and supply chain management to payments and marketing, has been transformed by the explosion in digital technology.
It sounds daunting. Change can be difficult and costly. But it is worth the investment and the right technology can help you deliver a more seamless experience - especially as all these new digital touchpoints provide rich customer data.
When I think back to Dixons even only a few years ago, I can see how much things have improved. We used to come in at 5am on a Monday to switch on the systems and run the weekend trading reports. It would take three hours and at the end of it people would be staggering around with huge bundles of paper - and all this for transactional data alone. Thankfully, companies now have a more integrated approach to channels.
The pace of change can seem intimidating but through this column, I want to lessen the ‘fear factor’ around digital technology and highlight the opportunities on offer. I cannot provide magic spells but I can share examples of retailers who are using technology in smart ways and provide tips that are actionable. See you here next month.
Martijn Bertisen is country sales director at Google UK