A Rough Start to 2019? It Doesn’t Have to Be…

Last year was tough for many retailers and the outlook for 2019 is similar, especially while uncertainty around Brexit remains. High rents, strong competition and a weakening pound are all squeezing margins. Already the first 2 weeks of this year brought us news of store closures and some lacklustre sales performance over the festive period.

However, at Validify we believe that despite the doom and gloom, there are still huge opportunities to be found. It is in more challenging times that businesses are forced to re-focus on the fundamentals of their proposition and think creatively about how to move forward. Innovation is core to this and we believe the more forward-thinking retailers will look to double down on the following:

  • Customer-centric transformation, focusing on how to deliver a best-in-class customer experience.
  • Employ a more agile, test and learn approach to innovation – don’t be afraid to fail, if it works roll it out, if it doesn’t rip it out.
  • Deploying more emerging technologies that can be quickly released to deliver a superior customer experience, and at a lower cost.

The leading retailers in our community have shared 4 key areas they will be focussing on for 2019 in order to combat the economic and political headwind. Validify’s Innovation Platform showcases a range of technologies that address these areas, and for a limited time, some vendors are offering free licenses in return for case studies.

If you’re interested in joining the platform, drop us a line or register on the platform.

Operational Efficiency

In this current climate, retailers struggle more than ever to protect their margins. Keeping costs down and ensuring operations are optimised is more necessary than ever. Key areas retailers are considering include:

Vendors on our platform are doing just some of the following:

  • How to sweat existing assets e.g store staff, to improve customer experience.
  • Ways to improve communication between stores and HQ to increase staff satisfaction and speed up implementation of new products.
  • Utilising data e.g. location analytics and store inventory to better select store locations and improve logistical efficiency.
  • Reducing the burden on customer service teams by turning customers into brand ambassadors.

Last Mile

This battleground rages on. Retailers still struggle to compete with the likes of Amazon when it comes to offering delivery choices customers want at a cost and time that is convenient to them. Themes currently being addressed:

  • Ways to improve checkout conversion by offering more effective delivery options.
  • How to deal with issues of package size and multiple items whilst offering the best service to their customers.
  • Automation of key areas such as packing and label printing in warehouses.
  • Providing same-day delivery to demanding consumers.

On-Site Customer Experience

You’ve done everything you can to get yourself up the Google search, acquire new customers and direct them to your site and – now it’s time to convert. Our retailer community are still looking for innovative ways to improve online customer experience to keep their customers on site for longer and most importantly convert. Below are topics our retailers are focussing on:

  • Looking at tools that provide recommendations on improving the customer onsite journey and UX.
  • Site speed optimisation – including in international markets.
  • Looking deeper into AI-driven personalisation and recommendations.

Alternative Payments

Alternative payment options are having a big impact on conversion, especially for the millennials. Whether it’s try before you buy or offering installment options, there are smart agile solution providers on the platform for you to speak to. Increasingly retailers are focusing on:

  • Pay-after delivery that allows people to try before they buy.
  • Increasing basket conversion by giving your customer the option to pay in installments.
  • Omnichannel payment gateways.

One to keep an eye on… Voice!

As the technology gets more sophisticated and consumers become increasingly used to it, Voice will simply become another channel retailers will have to address. Bigger brands such as H&M are already experimenting with possible applications, with over a third of all new searches on Google coming from Voice.

Our platform is working with innovative solutions focussed on the topic.

What are you focusing on for 2019?

Lastly, we want to wish everyone in our community a successful year ahead. As the British would say Keep Calm and Carry On!