‘Retail isn’t dying – it’s reinventing itself’

The way retailers treat their internal teams is a vital part of delivering a successful omnichannel strategy.

Speaking at the first ever Retail Hive Live meeting in New York, Tim Ceci, former North American Vice President, Retail Stores & Operations Management for CÉLINE, discussed the important role that internal culture plays in customer experience. “Those closest to the customer are closest to the solution,” he explained. “Talk to and look after your sales teams to get results.”

Ensuring a cultural shift towards omnichannel is the only way that brands will survive, and thrive, in an evolving retail landscape. “Retail isn’t dying,” he added. “It’s reinventing itself.” Retailers need to be sure that their teams are equipped with the tools they need to enable this reinvention.

This was just one of the discussions on the table as over 80 members of the Retail Hive gathered for Retail Hive Live: Omnichannel Customer Journeys in an Amazon World, which took place on 12th September in Manhattan with over 60 senior retail leaders representing brands including Estée Lauder, Farfetch, Giorgio Armani, Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany & Co.

The result was a day of frank, open roundtable conversation that identified the obstacles and presented some of the solutions. Discussions centred around ways in which to create a cohesive and personalised experience across all channels, from ascertaining what customers want to decide what avenues to take in order to deliver a seamless customer journey.

Here are just a few of the key take-aways from the day’s discussion;

Culture

As Tim attested, culture underpins everything in retail. ““Have an internal client mentality. The manner in which you treat your teams will directly affect what your customers see and feel about your brand – across all channels.”

Understand demand

Senior Management should be on the top floor regularly to meet customers and see how teams integrate with them, especially at peak times. This understanding allows each retailer’s own omnichannel to evolve in line with their customer expectations.

Data

Everyone has it but not everyone knows what to do with it. Making data actionable is proving difficult, which is why insight derived from data is proving more useful than data alone. 

Customer Lifetime value

Relevancy drives loyalty. A personalised experience married with exceptional service is the key to lifetime customer value. Identifying ways to differentiate the customer at each channel is still a challenge for retailers.

Moments matter

In-store and online experiences together can deepen relationships with customers. Regardless of where the moment happens, it should have impact.

Make every channel count

In store knowledge should replicate what customers can find online, while online journeys should be personable and offer a similar level of service as can be found in store – be it through chat bots, shopping assistance or simply streamlined shopping experiences.

Sally Green, Managing Director at The Retail Hive, commented: “Tim’s opening comments highlighted what our own independent research has shown us – retailers need to actively engage their teams in omnichannel, but many are failing to prioritise this. In a Retail Hive Member Poll carried out in April this year, staff skills ranked as the lowest priority for this financial year, at just 3%. As our members work to implement new technology (14%) and achieve digital transformation (19%), it’s important that staff are not left behind and are given the skills they need to support digital growth.”

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