It didn’t all change in March 2020. Not really.
The UK high street has been in the throes of a gradual revolution for decades. From the rise of ecommerce, to the birth of mobile, social commerce, and a growing emphasis on experience, change has been underway for a while.
In fact for many, the pandemic has acted as a wake-up call. Digital transformation was no longer a ‘nice to have’ but a matter of survival. Necessity sparked innovation and customers are enjoying more flexibility and convenience than ever before.
But what now? What lessons should we take with us as we move forwards? And how can we ensure we’re ready for whatever’s next?
To find out, host Colin Neil embarked on a journey spanning the past 10 years. Using our latest consumer research as a launch-pad, we spoke to famous brands, industry experts, and consumers on the street.
The result is a five-part podcast series providing a unique insight into the rich, varied world of UK commerce in 2021 and beyond.
When the going gets tough, the tough diversify
The initial ‘response’ phase of the pandemic is over. Now, as we’re adjusting to a state of normal(ish), it’s a good time to take stock and evaluate the current state of UK retail and hospitality.
We’ve seen that many retailers used the downtime of the pandemic to diversify their sales channels. The boundaries between in-store and online have become increasingly blurred, and new channels and experiences are emerging. But how do we ensure that the values and personality of a brand stay consistent across the board?
Prove you’re worthy of long term loyalty
The retail landscape is rapidly changing alongside both global shifts and local pressures. Accelerated by the pandemic, businesses are now blurring the lines between digital and physical experiences. This shift towards multiple, connected sales channels has helped build resilience for many businesses. In fact, recent Adyen research has found that 74% of businesses that connect their sales channels expect to grow by more than 20% this year.
We still love getting physical
Physical stores aren’t going anywhere. And Adyen’s latest research found that consumers support this, with 59% still preferring to shop in-store. While sensationalist news headlines might try to convince us otherwise, the truth is that the internet isn’t the brick-and-mortar killer it’s been made out to be. In actual fact, the growth of the online store isn’t so much siphoning customers from high street shops as it is augmenting consumers’ physical shopping experience and bolstering brand loyalty.
Data engineers are the new fashion designers
Not that long ago, you’d only expect a personalised customer experience if you were a regular repeat customer on your local high street - or if you happened to be a VIP shopping at Gucci. But that’s no longer the case. Today, a few data points can potentially give businesses a wealth of insight into their customers. And the information is already out there - all retailers need is a good data strategy to utilise it.
Platforms for growth
Brands are spoilt for choice when it comes to business tools; POS systems, CRM databases, even social media. These technologies are just a sampling of the plethora of services available to help retailers function and evolve. But one class of tool really making a difference is platforms. Platforms for E-commerce, platforms for managing business - no matter where they’re rolled out, what they really are are platforms for growth.
Who hasn’t seen headlines heralding the death of the high street? Woolworths, Debenhams, Arcadia Group - does the failure of these brands point to an overall demise? Is ecommerce taking the place of physical retail? Or is something different going on?
To learn more about where we are now, we need to look back a few years. In this first episode of Retail Reawakened, we track the digital transformation of global fashion brand Burberry and see the ways they’ve maintained their brand identity while adapting to an increasingly online world.
Over the past 20 years, Burberry has established its reputation as an industry-leader in digital transformation. Long before its competitors, it embraced digital technologies to create high-end experiences for their customers in-store and online. Former head of operations Steve Ibrahim and digital transformation strategist Craig Crawford walk us through the changes the brand made, both logistically and conceptually, to bring a sense of luxury to every part of the customer journey. We’ll also examine how businesses can ensure their digitisation remains true to their brand and centers on the customer.
In the second half of the episode, The Retail Champion, aka Clare Bailey of the BBC, will help us explore the bigger picture, providing a recent history of the UK’s retail evolution. She places store closures in context and challenges the notion that ecommerce is the harbinger of high street’s collapse. What are the opportunities presented by retail’s rush to digital? How can companies integrate their experiences and create a seamless path for the customer across all channels? What’s new for food and beverage? Clare gives you a snapshot of all of it.
If you want to find out more about digital transformation and adaptation, visit http://adyen.com/ukretailreport and download Adyen’s latest research report.