The annual event, hosted in Sydney, brought together key industry figureheads, including Myer’s CEO and MD, Richard Umbers, The Good Guys’s CEO Michael Ford and Optus’s VP of Retail Sales, Frances Martin to discuss retailers’ approach to innovation and digital disruption.
Industry attendees gained first-hand insights about the future of the sector and what is currently shaping consumer habits, what are the focus areas of growth, as well as the operational framework that is governing longevity and prosperity in the busy and fast-paced retail environment. The five key insights captured from the event were:
Millennials mean business
Digitally savvy generations are expected to account for 30 per cent of discretionary spending by 2020 – plus, they’ll also make up a large number of staff in stores. They’ve never lived without technology and will be a significant influence across all facets of consumer culture. Writing them into the story and having a blended team of these fresh-faced brand champions alongside more well-experienced counterparts, is a journey and process that all retail outlets need to adopt and support.
Data makes a difference
Big data, CRM, insights, habits – although one of the areas of business that is most over-capitalised on, data is hugely important in this digital age. Insights teams are driving operations, from products and category performance to small detail consumer habits, without analysing data and strategising from this information, businesses will fall behind. Customer insights will lead to dynamic planning and more influentially, anticipating purchases of customers.
A competitor disadvantage
Amazon is on its way – but this, and other retail conglomerates, don’t have the domestic advantage of the power of local knowledge. Global companies don’t have it as easy, as businesses with a current foothold in the Australian marketplace, whether for decades or years, will be a step ahead. Having home-grown history is invaluable, and established market relevance will win out.
Blurring the lines
Where is the physical in e-commerce? Having the inventory is one thing, but where will the purchase journey start and end? The nexus points that align with the new paradigm are where the customer is when purchasing, where the product they have purchased is, and where the customer will collect their purchase. The aim is not to disappoint them, the sweet spot is doing bricks and mortar and digital in a complimentary way. By looking closely at the consumer shopping journey - by way of where they look for products, if they order online, pick up in store or have other touchpoints – will make finding the right balance more achievable. Look at ways to blur the lines of the retail journey and ease of shop with a variety of options, and consumers will return.
Ideas in practice
Innovations and ideas, staff as concept champions and testing and investing in new models; establishing a platform for digital think tanks within an organisation that will push the envelope will be what sets retailers apart. Dynamic collaboration that leads to consistently redefining where retail ends and tech starts will be an internal and external challenge, but without experimenting and dabbling in new forms of technology, expect lacklustre consumer results. Have capability internally to action digital change, a culture that is comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty and good process and infrastructure. Accept that change is imminent and plan systematically - be deliberate and prepared. Innovation is about being disciplined - reinvent and be relevant, otherwise disruption will overtake.