The Retailer Summer Edition 2022


Driving sustainable and lasting change on your digital transformation journey DIGITAL SOLUTIONS

New plans to drive social change on our high streets THE FUTURE OF RETAIL

How UK retailers can tackle card fees as inflation soars PAYMENTS & SECURITY

Partnership Opportunities with BRC BRC brings together retail leaders, policymakers, influencers and industry partners to help members stay informed of key industry issues and developments

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We are looking for partners to position alongside BRC as industry thought leaders to create and deliver engaging content. Our 2022 2023 calendar offers virtual, hybrid and the return of face to face as we open our own event space at The Form Rooms in London. Change Programmes Climate Action Roadmap Diversity & Inclusion Charter Today Agenda Supporting Covid Recovery, Packaging & Waste, Digital Retailing, Business Taxation & Rates, International Trade, Violence & Crime Other hot topics we will cover: emerging retail technology, the changing consumer, driving loyalty, AI and the customer experience, cyber security, demand volatility plus many more as our agenda reacts to the ever-changing needs of the retail sector. BRC 2022/2023 Focus Areas

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TO GET INVOLVED AND FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT PARTNERING WITH BRC CONTACT: Susan Cameron, Partnerships Manager Diane Fievez, Head of Commercial Partnerships

I can’t remember a time with as much disruption as the last two-and-a-half years. A pandemic, three lockdowns, an HGV driver shortage, the ‘pingdemic’, a huge investment in digital, and a decline in footfall yet to fully return. A war in Europe, creating untold suffering in Ukraine and creating reverberations through supply chains around the world. And now a cost-of-living crisis – with inflation at a forty-year high and little end in sight. Many retailers tell me that the current environment is worse than the height of Covid. They find themselves squeezed between higher costs from all angles, multiple logistical issues and lower demand from their customers. Atight labour market leaves many businesses struggling to fill essential roles. Wage bills are rising fast. Global commodity prices have increased precipitously (the FAOGlobal Food Price Index is up 22% in the last year alone). Energy costs – uncapped for businesses – are soaring. Shipping and road freight costs remain a massive burden. And Government has introduced National Insurance rises, a Plastic Packaging Tax, and removed almost all Business Rates and other support and reliefs brought in during the pandemic. Despite all this, the focus of industry leaders is on how to support their customers caught in the cost-of-living crunch. Value ranges have expanded, discounts have been introduced for vulnerable customers, and many cost rises are being absorbed by retailers. Looking forward, retailers continue to seek cost-savings across their operations, and many have pledged to invest in lower prices in the future. And perhaps most importantly, many are raising pay to help colleagues and their families cope with the economic onslaught. Unfortunately, things aren’t going to get better any time soon. The Bank of England forecast inflation to continue to rise this year, with an economic slowdown to boot. The UK may be the world’s sixth largest economy, but it still being bludgeoned by external inflationary pressures from around the world. The BRC remains committed to pushing for any mitigations that can help the industry deal with this backdrop. We lobbied for the delayed border check changes and helped push back the scheduled implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility, which would have cost the industry billions of pounds. Such changes of heart from Government are important, but there is more they should consider. Unfortunately, with Government contending with “turbulence” of its own (an understatement, perhaps?), this may prove a tad more difficult than in the past, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to try to persuade them. Government can help raise productivity and take steps to mitigate the tight labour market by making the Apprenticeship Levy more flexible so that businesses are in a stronger position to draw down on their huge training funds. Government could findways to make markets work better. The ongoing consultation on transitional relief for the next business rates revaluation in 2023 is a crucial opportunity for Government to address the burden of rates in the short-term, while working on longer-term, meaningful reform. By abolishing downwards phasing of transitional relief, Government would stand by its aims to make the rates system fairer and support those parts of the country which need it most. Government could also look at its legislation pipeline and focus on the important, bigger impact things rather than legislation that becomes the means rather the ends. Sometimes it is just better for Government to get out of the way. So, lots to play for. And while I can’t remember a time with as much disruption as the last two and-a-half years, I also can’t remember a time with so much resilience, innovation, determination and courage as I have seen from the industry and the millions of individuals who keep it together. WE CAN’T SOLVE THE COST-OF LIVING CRISIS, BUT WE CAN HELP MAKE IT BEARABLE

Helen Dickinson OBE Chief Executive British Retail Consortium


Looking forward, retailers continue to seek cost-savings across their oper ations, and many have pledged to invest in lower prices in the future.”










MEASURING WHAT MATTERS David Frieberg // Planalytics








New Plans To Drive Social Change On Our High Streets Kirsty Black // Shoosmiths





Disability And Neurodiverse Workforce Lisa Hodgson, Simran Khosla // DLA Piper




Apprenticeships: Futureproofing Retail’s Post-Pandemic Workforce And Boosting The Talent Pipeline. Christian Amadeo // Fashion And Retail Awards


The High Street Is Not Dead: It Just Has A New Purpose Faye Mcconnell // Browne Jacobson


Ai: A Serious Ethical Challenge For Retailers Elliott Goldstein // MBS Group

How Grocers Are Grappling With Another Unheralded Holiday Season Francois Chaubard // Focal Systems




Always wanted to be a CEO? // BRC Learning


Path To Peek Justine L'estrange // Google

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Spotlight // BRC

Digital Hub // BRC



How Zero Trust Helps Retailers Combat The Surge In Ransomware Keiron Holyome // Blackberry


How Businesses Can Address The Data Sovereignty Challenge Rob Elliss // Thales


New Research Highlights Gen Z Consumer Attitudes On Data Privacy Liesl Smith // Freedompay


Under The Influence: Retailers, Online Influencers And Legal Risks Alex Mizzi // Howard Kennedy


How Uk Retailers Can Tackle Card Fees As Inflation Soars Martha Southall //CMSPI

brought to you by




Sarah Friswell CEO Red Ant

C ustomer data-driven insight is vital to build brand loyalty and impact the bottom line Since March 2020, retailers have experienced two major lightbulb moments: They must readily provide customers with information on product sustainability, and that their data is their biggest asset for optimising customer experience and ensuring that store associates have that information at their fingertips. A Red Ant survey revealed while over a third (38%) of UK retailers have invested in sustainability strategies, 37% marked data as a priority, and voiced concerns about data quality, strategy, compliance and integration. 40% said harnessing data as part of an omnichannel strategy is their main priority and 82% see the value of clienteling, which relies totally on data quality, management, and integration. Without it, those all-important sustainability initiatives won’t reach customers in an easily accessibleway. The value of clienteling relies totally on data quality, management, and inte gration. Without it, those all-important sustainability initiatives won’t reach customers in an easily accessible way.” ‘‘ 2022 customer expectations 2022’s more tech-native, considered, socially aware shoppers - concerned with sustainability, diversity, and responsible business practices - are defining a new era for retail. Knowing your customers’ values, habits and preferences has never been more important. Highly personalised engagement is key and favourite brand choices are increasingly based on sustainability credentials. If either of these is missing – retailers are losing out on revenue. A rapid, seamless, and stress free shopping experience is a fundamental expectation, not an option. 90% of consumers polled in a Red Ant beauty and skincare survey said they would choose an ethical/sustainable beauty brand over one that isn’t, with 37% stating it’s key to their decision-making process and they’re happy to pay more for proven credentials in this area.


Retailers that give their customers access to a trusted store associate with the product and customer data to help the customer make the right choice, both personally and ethically, will be the winners.”

Personalised services The key to building loyalty is personalisation. A staggering 91% of con sumers are more likely to shop with brands that recognise, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations. Retailers must join the dots for the optimal customer experience and realise that they need both – the product and customer information, as well as the right in-store tech to make engagement seamless across all customer contact points - social media, the website and in-store. Shoppers might see a product on social media, check it out online, save their baskets when they switch devices, then visit the store to complete the purchase if they wish. A data-first approach Personalisation is only made possible with the right data quality and integration, so retailers must take a data-first approach. This means having a clear data strategy which aligns to business goals shared with stakeholders business-wide. Data must be compliant, high quality and integrated with all systems to maximise the potential from any retail tech investment. A fully omnichannel solution needs an all-in-one retail solution platform with fully integrated data that can maximise sales, deliver exceptional customer service and drive operational performance. It’s vital to check all infrastructure is connected and sharing data sources to provide a single source of truth - otherwise the transformation will not be successful. Data integration is clearly a sticking point for retailers, with 25% of retailers surveyed by RedAnt claiming it’s their biggest challenge. This is a project that needs to be tackled first by heads of IT - not last. There’s a long-standing myth among retailers that integration with their other systems isn’t possible, which means it’s often seen as a huge problem. It is possible and for a successful retail transformation, retailers must harness data from multiple sources - legacy, third party and new – into one platform and ensure it’s embedded into the whole business.

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Clienteling drives brand loyalty Data is at the heart of clienteling and enables retailers to empower their store associates with intelligent insight to engage effectively with customers. Clienteling supports the customer journey and maintains the relationship between customer and brand. Clienteling mean s harnessing the right customer data to support or elevate a sale, ideally using a single integrated app, which can be accessed on a device by store associates in store and online. By drawing insight from data on customers’ historical purchases, habits, and shopping preferences, combined with details of the retailer’s entire product range, consultants give a more personalised service and deliver better customer experience. Growing relationships with customers means providing them the right information on products and services, whether it’s by email, SMS, or chat. Customers may want to know if they can recycle an old sofa or clothes, where the products are manufactured and whether there’s an ethical trading process; being ready with the right responses and aligning to their sustainability preferences is key to securing loyalty. According to Attune , customers that have experienced clienteling spend 3.5 to 4 times more annually and are 33% more likely to become repeat customers. An effective investment in retail sustainability strategy means being mindful of the key techniques and technologies required to market and deliver these products to the customer. Data is the lifeblood for organisations in any industry and retailers must take advantage of what they already have to optimise their customer journey and experience. Retailers that support the customer journey through data-driven insights, dedicated software , and shifting their retail culture will make the most of their sustainability investment and create meaningful and connected shopping experiences for retail success. The right technologywill build successful sustainability strategies

Sarah Friswell Linkedin Profile




David Frieberg VP Marketing Planalytics, Inc

R etailers should focus on supply chain out comes, not just forecast accuracy met rics, when gauging success of inventory optimisation efforts.

To more accurately gauge the effectiveness of forecast overrides, retailers utilise a before and after A/B testing approach such as difference-in-differences. The difference-in-differences approach compares performance of supply chain metrics like out-of-stock rate or turn rate before and after imple mentation of a new forecasting technique. The test can be set up either as a comparison between stores or between products. The economists who popularized the difference-in-differences methodology recently won the Nobel Prize in Economics, further validating the above meas urement methodology (The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2021). An increasingly common demand forecast adjustment or override that retailers look to address is the weather’s impact on consumer purchas ing. This is no surprise as the weather is constantly changing and it continually and significantly alters consumer demand. Projecting how much (% or unit volume) demand will increase or decrease due to the weather across products and stores via overrides to the base forecast is a proven way to limit both understocking and overstocking specific products and categories in different locations (that will experience different weather-influenced demand trends). Using an example inwhich Planalytics’ Weather-Driven Demand (WDD) outputs are used as forecast overrides will show how real financial gains may get overlooked when forecast accuracy improvement is the only metric evaluated. In a comparison (Figure 2) of the baseline difference in out-of-stock rate pre- and post-WDD overrides over the course of several weeks one can see how this disconnect can occur. The difference between the baseline and post-implementation out-of-stock rates is the treatment effect from the methodology change.

Retailers commonly track forecast accuracy improvement to measure performance of their demand forecasts. Whilst forecast accuracy is certainly a metric that should be tracked, retailers need to be wary of drawing incomplete conclusions if this is where their analysis begins and ends. Why? Biased forecasts can obscure significant gains of key performance measures such as out-of-stock rates or inventory turns… in other words, metrics that directly impact turnover and profitability. Mean absolute percentage error (MAPE) or root mean square error (RMSE) are often used by retailers to judge the accuracy of forecasts. Though widely used, these measures can be flawed when evaluating the efficacy of point solution overrides, especially in the presence of biased forecasts. In our work with retailers, Planalytics has typically found some level of positive bias in forecasts, often in the +5% to +20% range. Whether this is intentional to ensure high service levels or due to challenges from in intermittent demand, this bias has proven to be persistent across all types of retailers and demand forecasting applications. At a macro forecasting level, this bias may not pose obvious problems. For example, when choosing the optimal time series forecasting method ology (e.g. AVS Graves vs. Exponential Smoothing), some combination of error and bias factors will allow a retailer to choose which method they believewill maximise supply chain outcomes. However, biased forecasts will mask the effectiveness of point solution overrides. Consider the following hypothetical scenario in which a demand fore cast has an average bias of 10%. Figure 1 illustrates how the override – although “perfect” in that the base forecast with the adjustment exactly match observed demand – will appear to have a negative effect if only measured by forecast accuracy. This hypothetical forecast assumes a perfect unbiased demand forecast of 100 units, a perfect forecast override of 10% and a known +10% bias to the forecast. When calculating the error rates from this “perfect” forecast, we see that the biased forecast appears to have an error rate of 0% while the biased overridden forecast has a MAPE of 10%. This result is despite the fact that the override exactly captures the increased demand. It is easy to see how a retailer can come to incorrect conclusions about the improvements that are being provided by the override and the accuracy of biased baseline forecast.

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Instead of looking at changes in MAPEwhich (as was shown earlier) can produce spurious conclusions, the difference-in-differences approach on out-of-stock (OSS) rate illustrates the exact effect WDD forecast overrides have on the relevant supply chain outcome. In the end, it is this measurement of benefit and its financial value that ultimately matters to a business.

The example above using Weather-Driven Demand forecasts generate a measurable 100-200 bps improvement in out-of-stock rates, 5-10% reductions in on-hand inventory, and 7-15% reductions in shrink for perishable items. In calculating bottom line financial return that results from improvements in these key business metrics, retailers typically capture EBITDA gains between 2-5 million for every 1 billion in revenue.

David Frieberg +1 484 682 7626


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Steve Dennis Director Spike

I t’s all about Page Speed – and if you ain’t fast you’re just frustrating. We have been helping retailers tackle this continual challenge for a long time, and here’s the low down on how to ensure you’re getting it right. By 2022, e-retail revenues are expected to grow to $6.54 trillion, up from $3.53 trillion in 2019. And there are no signs of this growth slowing down. As the public becomesmore accustomed to shopping fromhome, thanks to the cultural shifts brought on byCOVID-19, we can expect to see changes in what they expect from the eCommerce buying experience. • Low speeds of any eCommerce platform can be costly. Here are some of its solid warning signs and subsequent consequences: • Basket abandonment – ‘unexpected costs’ are responsible for 56% of all cart abandonment. It is a % worth pausing on. Or was it the slow site? • Site hits – you’re getting hits but lack of further engagement – this hints at frustrated buyers – check. • Page engagement times are short - users could be closing the page down before it loads – check. • Increased Bounce Rates: A slow loading page triggers the users to bounce back. • Reduced Organic Reach: It is hard for your site to rank if it is taking ages to load. Some Warning Signs we see retailers facing:

Current Market & Best Practice Retailersweworkwithmeasure the keymetrics that impact their bottom line every day and strive to ensure that the ideal customer journey is satisfying and certainly a frustration-free experience. Just a one-second delay in loading time results in: • 16% decrease in customer satisfaction

• 11% fewer page views • 7% loss in conversions However

• The ideal website load time for mobile sites is 1-2 seconds. • 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load. • A 2-second delay in load time resulted in abandonment rates of up to 87%.

Four Top Techniques 1. Start MEASURING – easy!

Business Management author Peter Drucker. Once famously said: “If you can't measure it, you can't improve it.” and that holds very true for page speed. It sounds an obvious place to start but do you even know what you’re up against? Free checks are a great place to start and there are tons of tools out there. All differ slightly in their approach but essentially give you a line in the sand. One of the easiest places to begin is in Google itself. Hit up, enter a URL like your home page or a PDP and click RUN AUDIT. Bingo, your first speed metric! 2. FIX the quick wins first… …then create a plan to iterate regularly through the rest Your initial page speed measure will give you a feel for how good (or bad) your client page speed experience is. Of course, you’ll need to monitor more than a one-off, across more pages and at different times of day (see below) but the first step Easywins include:

Run Compression Audits & reduce the size of all images Gzip compression can reduce response sizes by 70%. Enable Browser Caching

With caching enabled your website speed will be faster for returning visitors as they’ve already downloaded the images, style sheets and JavaScript they need. External Content Delivery Network (CDN) are also a common solution.

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OptimizeWebsite Speed HTTP requests are made for each element on your website. I’m again referring to things like images, scripts, and stylesheets. Question your webpage designs, understand individual element load times and sizes and reduce unnecessary clutter. Reduce the Time to First Byte (TTFB) SlowTTFB means your customer is ‘hanging’ waiting for a request to process on your server-side – speeding up networks and backend sys tems as well as redesigning the flow of requests needed to build a page can all help Watch out for Third PartyAddins The performance limitations of integrated third-party addins are often out of your control – choose them carefully, monitor their impact, remove any you no longer need and consider alternatives to the slow ones. 3. Set realistic TARGETS Google say you should be aiming for the green….which is fine but in reality modern retail systems are complex dynamic beasts and many elements in your design will simply put a green out of your reach. You should always aim for the best score but don’t chase it for the sake of the number. 4. Make this a regular thing! REPEAT. • Monitor regularly, over time, and against your competitors • Encourage developers to use built-in tools to Google Chrome, to run checks like web/dev/measure. • Create an ongoing monitoring approach to build up a data profile and build up a benchmark • Watch how differences in page speed impact conversion or abandonment • Remember the mobile! The value of browsing and ordering across your mobile and desktop customers and factor that in when selecting what to improve.

So is it all about speed? Knowing that shoppers require speed is all very well but more than that they want more content. For example, I’m afraid customers want to see at least 3 images of an itemwhen purchasing, which means retailers need to bulk up their platforms to make way for more. Keep innovating - but keep on top of speed! Page speed is only one part of this positive experience. Some of our leading customers release multiple versions of their site to test different user groups and monitor the impact on user behaviour in real-time. Aim to match what they’re doing – let your customers lead and then work out how you can do this at speed – simply because this will always be the expectation. Honestly, there is no rocket science behind the fact that improved loading speed can increase sales. The logic is simple: people love swiftly loading sites and so does Google. In 2022, if you are an eCommerce business owner, your website speed should be the first thing you should review to step towards success. But yes, sadly creating a fast website isn’t just a matter of installing a few plugins, and walking away and saying ‘Jobs a good un!’ It’s a continuous process that involves regular testing, tweaking, and housekeeping to keep your webpage speeds high. The importance ofwebsite speed can’t be overstated, but it is also not com plicated so address it andmaster it. Easy!Whenyou knowpage loadingtimes can make or break the success of your site, yes, it’s a pretty easy decision.

Steve Dennis


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Hugh Nightingale Principal Consultant Change Management Group

D igital transformation is broadly defined as the integration of digital technologies in all areas of a business, from creating new paths to market, to delivering better cus tomer experiences and improving operational process efficiency. Most companies’ transfor mational efforts are largely underway; thanks in part to Covid-19 and the eCommerce accel eration effect. Leading digital transformation activities has become a retail leader’s top pri ority. In fact, it is expected that digitally trans formed organisations will be contributing more than half of the global GDP in 2023. Technology Adoption It’s unquestionable that new technologies play a crucial role in the digital transformation journey - I.T. spending reached $3.9 trillion in 2020 and is expected to grow to over $4.4 trillion by next year. In retail specifically, the use of digital solutions largely powered by data, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and cloud technologies are high on the agenda – from automated warehouse operations to data-driven inventory management, customer-centric store layouts, multichannel shopping experience and beyond. However, what many companies don’t realise soon enough is that digital transformation is less of a technology step change than it is a business transformational challenge.

Making fundamental changes to your business processes and culture is often a long and difficult journey, especiallywhen you are implementing a step change to your operating model. Which is why the key principles of change management must be applied to any retail digital transfor mation journey. These principles underpin a successful delivery of both the organisational and process changes required to really embed digital across your business. Here are our 4 pillars of success: 1. Leadership Digital transformation demands fundamental and often extensive change to many, if not all, aspects of the business. Leaders must be commit ted and aligned to the entire change journey - they are the ultimate advocates for change, providing confidence from the top down that the business is taking the right steps for the future. And it doesn’t end there. They must deliver on-going ‘hands on’ support through day-to day leadership. This will help guide the business through the toughest days of the transformation – and there will be many.

the same time.” ‘‘

Top tip – Ensure the leadership skillset at the top has the right balance between strategy and operations. You must con tinue to run the business and transform at

2. Preparation & Planning Companies worldwide cite a wide range of major challenges that affect success in their pursuit of digital transformation – from skills gaps and cultural difference, to lack of clarity on strategy and alignment. What is most important is to build the foundation for sustainable change. This means starting your planning early and this time and effort will not be wasted. Careful preparation allows for a comprehensive change man agement strategy, impact assessment and for detailed plans to be put in place, increasing the chances of your transformation being successful. Your transformation journey must have direction, in that it must be aligned with the business strategy. This direction must be visible in the planning stages. The focus of change management in the planning phase is to identify what change should be delivered, why, when and to whom. A good well prepared change management strategy includes cultural transformation - changing mind sets is as important as adopting new processes.


Technology can be implemented and offline processes moved to the cloud, but for digital capabilities to be successfully embedded across an entire business, lead ership must also accommodate the need for a cultural shift to more agile and more intelligent ways of doing business.”

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3. Delivery, Adoption & Evaluation Delivering change is never straight forward and minimising impact on the business is critical to the success of the transformation. Effective management of the change journey allows you to anticipate delivery and adoption risks, identify where you need to build new capabilities, and ensures you can respond to these challenges with minimal impact. Implementation (go live) is not the end point either, continual evaluation of the delivery and listening to end users will increase the success of adoption. 4. Communication Having main stakeholders and senior executives agree to the benefits of the transformation is one thing, but the change will affect employees working in all areas of your business. Many companies fail to deliver clear communication of the benefits and listen to the feedback from their teams. Your people, and their knowledge of your business, are a key ingredient to foster sustainable change. Careful and considered communication at all levels improves the under standing of those that will be impacted by the change. Communications must be relevant, frequent and genuine (reporting the bad as well as the good) and personalised to the different stakeholder groups. It’s good practice to establish a feedback loop for recipients of communication to help improve the quality of what is being communicated and how.

Digital transformational challenges are difficult to navigate at the best of times. But in today’s climate, with remote working an added obstacle, the right people in change management roles can help ensure your company secures buy-in from all stakeholders and acceptance of new ways of working across the business. Change Management Group (CMG) is a global consulting firmwith over 20 years’ experience delivering strategic change and transformation across the retail and consumer sectors. Wework with people, processes and technology to drive your transformation in a structured and efficient way – building lasting value for your business. Common Pitfalls ToWatch Out For: Lack of clarity: Have you identified the business need for transfor mation? Developing an understanding of your threats, weaknesses, opportunities and strengths allows you to establish a need for change. Lack of customer engagement & feedback: Do you really know what your customers’ digital needs are? The customer is everything in retail. Without focused customer engagement, the customer experience may not be as tailored, and localised, as youwant it to be. Lack of leadership: Is everyone onboardwith the need to transform? Leadership misalignment or disagreement has significant impact to those trying to deliver the change. Lack of adoption: Is everyone living the change & committed to it? Colleague engagement is critical to transformation success. Being clear with people at the start of the journey will drive success in training, implementation and adoption. Remember - it’s an evolution, not a revolution – the spirit of change must be part of the DNA of your organisation. Change is constant and building a mindset of change is of the utmost importance.

Hugh Nightingale


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Paul Winsor Industry Principal Retail & CPG Snowflake

F rom digital transformation to brand col laboration, learn how forward-thinking retailers can thrive in a changing market. Since the boom of ecommerce in the 1990s, the retail sector has found itself on increasingly uncertain ground, and we’ve never seen market conditions as disruptive as they are today. Customer expectations have changed at pace, and business models have had to adapt to maintain market share and breed brand loyalty. Today, ecommerce continues to be the fastest growing segment of the retail market in Europe and NorthAmerica, meaning brands have to strike the right balance between online shopping, newdigital experiences, and traditional in-store interactions. This is still a challenge for many, but it’s far from the only one today’s retailers face. Post-pandemic customer trends, a growing emphasis on health, climate change and sustainability, and less disposable income all contribute to the current market environment. To thrive in this landscape, retailers need to monitor these trends, keep track of customer expectations, and find newways to deliver the enhanced, personalised, and timely experiences that set brands apart. Here are five strategies that will ready your retail organisation for success. 1. Embrace digital transformation (but really, this time) A128% increase in online sales since 2015 represents a major opportunity for retailers who have already invested significantly in their ecommerce presence. With post-pandemic consumers more likely to spend online, it’s likely that new digital opportunities will continue to present them selves through apps like TikTok and Instagram, and direct-to-customer subscription models. Exploiting these opportunities and finding new ways to interact and engage with increasingly homebound customers is dependent on your ability to understand trends. This requires two things: the right data, and the latest digital capabilities, like AI and machine learning, to turn that data into insights. For retailers that aren’t currently placing digital, data-driven processes at the heart of operations, now is the time to start. The competitive nature of the retail market means those too slow to act will see revenue lost to more nimble, tech-savvy competitors.

2. Double down on data initiatives Whether you’re looking to understand customer habits or improve operational efficiency, data is the cornerstone of successful, modern retail. In fact, Snowflake research shows that 46% of retail and CPG firms are already using data to reveal new market opportunities, and 41% plan to do so in the next 12 months. However, only 4% say they are currently using data to “a great extent” to achieve strategic business goals. And less than a third say the majority of their decisions are informed by data. This means there’s a huge opportunity for data-driven retailers to gain competitive advantage. The most forward-thinking companies are going a step further, though, enriching their data sourceswith third-party datasets to develop deeper and more contextual understandings of the market. With the help of automation, AI, and machine learning, these combined datasets can be used to accurately predict future outcomes and target emerging trends, providing valuable lead time in an industry that can change at breakneck speed. 3. Turn competitors into collaborators One relatively new concept in the data sphere are Data Cleanrooms. These environments enable retailers to share and connect data with other organisations in situations where both parties benefit – all while protecting personal information to ensure alignment with GDPR legislation. In fact, retailers today are increasingly joining forces, either to provide new products, collaborate on projects, or gain greater market share. One CDO interviewed recently outlined the benefits of joining forces with other retailers: “With our own data we can only look internally,” they said. “But we need to look outwards and see things like industry benchmarks, regional trends, and which waves we can ride.” Despite the advantages of pooled resources, Snowflake research shows that just 45% of retail organisations are currently able to exchange data with other organisations. Data marketplaces are helping facilitate this collaboration by providing seamless and secure access and data-sharing capabilities to help retailers better understand customers and the market, and drive new and exciting solutions.

trends.” ‘‘

Finding newways to interact and engage with increasingly homebound customers is dependent on your ability to understand

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outcomes and emerging trends.” ‘‘

With the help of automation, AI, and machine learning, these combined datasets can be used to accurately predict future

4. Give your customers what theywant In the coming years, automation will pave the path to productivity for a lot of retailers, reducing personnel while introducing new levels of efficiency. Think self-service checkouts, or Amazon’s cashless stores as a slightly more high-concept example. But while these seamless interactions will appeal to some, it’s important to remember that not every customer will be comfortable with using contactless and frictionless experiences. Bear in mind that today’s shoppers comprise several generations, from Baby Boomers to Gen Z, so it’s inevitable that some will still prefer the human touch. Striking this balance successfully and providing a range of options, while still reaping the benefits of automation, will be key to success here. One of the problems retailers often struggle with is making data acces sible to those who need it, when they need it. In fact, 36% of retail and CPG firms say poor data management has cost them strategic business opportunities. In contrast, Snowflake research tells us that the 6% of organisations that are outperforming their peers in the data economy provide unimpeded access to their data, no matter where data users reside. Having a centralised cloud data platform that provides easy and instant access is one of the things that will help retailers provide the hyper per sonalised products and services that McKinsey tells us 71% of customers expect. And it’s important not to underestimate the importance of this. Especially when as many as 76% get frustrated when personalised interactions don’t occur. 5. Bring everything together in one place

Paul Winsor


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Erika Arena Principal Industry Lead, Retail Mendix

C an low-code software development tools really help retail enterprises to enhance their operational efficiency and deliver exceptional customer experience at a lower cost?

Leveraging low-code to optimise operational efficiency

While there are many tech solutions available in the market to help retail enterprises to upgrade their operational efficiency and improve their customer experience, in recent times low-code tools have emerged to become more popular among businesses that are looking to innovate their business processes by building customised applications. With the help of low-code tools, organisations can nowbuild applications to manage their business operations and better serve their customers, without having to hire a large number of software applications developers. Most low-code platforms also allowbusiness users or tech savvy people within the organisation to collaboratewith the IT teams to build solutions or applications that the business needs, at a lower cost and at a faster pace. Some of theways inwhich retail enterprises can use low-code to enhance their business processes and improve their customer experience, includes – Building hyper-personalised apps to remain competitive – Developing applications to enhance customer experiencewithin retail involves taking into consideration the various personas that will be ultimately using these apps, including employees belonging to different departments and the customers themselves. This involves creating hyper-personalised applications that cater to the needs of multiple personas, numerous business processes, custom functionalities and authenticated levels of access to different types of information. With the help of rapid app development tools such as low-code, busi nesses can nowutilise real-time data, AI, machine learning and predictive analytics, to gain better access to insights from their audience or cus tomers and can act on that information at a faster rate. These tools can essentially help you understand howusers interact with your application through feedback loops. Basically, low-code platforms allow you to release more iterations of apps to create more feedback cycles, which in turn leads to more information which can be used to inform AI and machine learning of various business processes. In the long run, this helps retailers to scale up their operations via automation while continuously improving the user experience of their apps. Designing better mobile apps to improve customer experience –Mobile apps are now a pre-requisite for retailers to compete with others in a digital landscape. With its ability to gather data, grow sales and smoothen out business processes, these apps remain a key touchstone to drive business value via digitization. Businesses can now leverage low-code development platforms tomanage their mobile stack as they provide a more cost-effective solution to build, implement and maintain the mobile application development strategy. However, when it comes to choosing the right low-code platform to manage the business’s mobile stack, it’s important to first get your mobile application infrastructure right.

As the ongoing cost-of-living crisis in the UK continues to impact businesses belonging to various industries, the retail sector has been particularly hit by the repercussions of the crisis due to dramatic shifts in consumer behaviour. In fact, according to the Office for National Statistics, retail sales across the country have been steadily dipping since the past few months – a fall of 0.1% in sales volume was recorded in June 2022. Pressured by rising wages, reduced consumer spending and global supply chain issues, retailers are now turning to tech solutions to reduce their operational costs and increase efficiency to make the most out of their existing resources to deliver better customer experience and retain their customers. As consumer preferences continue to evolve as they become more price sensitive, retailers now need to adopt a customer-centric strategy that focuses on better understanding changing consumer needs to deliver quality customer experience. Whether it’s discovering new products on a desktop or making a pur chase on a mobile app and scheduling it for an instore pick-up, today’s customer experience needs to take all the various customer touchpoints into consideration, which exists within both the physical and digital realms, to create a truly seamless customer experience. Hence providing exceptional customer experience is not just about training your employees to be nice to your customers. To remain competitive and relevant during these challenging times, retailers need to embrace a digital customer experience strategy that focuses on empowering their employees to deliver exceptional customer service by leveraging the latest tech tools available in the market. However, adapting to these changes is easier said than done as devel oping a unique customer experience involves continuous understanding of your user and investing in the right technology to keep up with their changing needs. Developing a successful customer experience

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Summary To sum it up, today low-code tools hold the potential to help retail enterprises to deliver exceptional customer experience by building new functionalities at a lower cost and at a much faster pace. The accelerated pace of application development via these platforms allows its users to try out new solutions at a rapid rate, especially while they continue to fight off other challenges posed by inflation and a volatile job market.

As mobile technology continues to evolve, selecting a development software that supports both AppStore-based mobile architectures and browser-based architectures can enable businesses to deliver the best customer experience for every mobile scenario. Automating to reduce costs and improve efficiency – Process digitisa tion allows retailers to enhance their business operations by replacing clunky and outdated work practices with intelligent automation, which helps employees to reduce the time spent on unnecessary tasks. When automating tasks there’s also lesser chance of human error, which in turn leads to the delivery of improved customer experience. Achieving process automation is a never-ending endeavour that involves automating all processes in all departments from end-to-end, even as they evolve overtime. With the help of low-code development tools, organisations can now build model-based and user-centric applications that are capable of running and controlling these business processes. This allows business users to modernise legacy processes to automate repetitive and erroneous tasks to focus on high-level strategic work, thereby reducing risks, lowering overhead costs and increasing overall productivity amongst employees.

Erika Arena


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Peter Luff Managing Director Ipsos Retail Performance.

D espite prices rising by 9.1 per cent a year in the UK - the highest rate for 40 years, and the Bank of England warning that infla tion might reach 11 per cent within months, consumers are still looking to enjoy the summer months, making the most of the hospitality, retail and travel industries being fully reopened. In fact, thanks to high employment, wage inflation and bumper savings amassed during various lockdowns, the health of the retail sector remained robust at the start of 2022, as consumer demand slowed less than expected, according to KPMG/Ipsos Retail Think Tank (RTT) members. Despite this, there’s no denying that the cost of living crisis will lead many consumers to rein in non-essential spending as we approach the winter, meaning retailers need to do everything they can to attract shoppers in-store. At the same time, the cost of doing business continues to increase thanks to the return of full business rates, utility bill price hikes and a national insurance rise. With profit margins tight, many have realised that the basic assumptions and theories they might have relied upon pre-pandemic to pre dict demand, footfall and sales are no longer sufficient, with reliable data now a vital aspect of future planning. For example, footfall counting systems that can record the exact number of people enter ing and leaving the store on an hourly, daily, weekly and year-on-year basiswill help retailers gauge the number of staff required in-store, allowing them to quickly pivot should demand suddenly change. Monitoring consumer demand

These systems can also provide a clearer pic ture of customer behaviour, how it’s changed and how it might continue to change over the coming months. With this insight, retailers can take action to decrease things like dwell times or prevent shoppers leaving the store empty handed, perhaps reconfiguring the layout or grouping certain products together. Looking beyond this, footfall counters enable retailers to make the best long-term strategic and operational decisions, including improving merchandising and store displays, optimising staff resources, and maximising sales and con version rates. Providing an experience It’s important to remember that there will be strong competition from the hospitality and leisure sectors as these industries also look to capitalise on pent up consumer demand, potentially leading to spending being diverted away from the retail sector. To combat this, retailers should consider putting on special events, displays or deals, as many did over the Jubilee Bank Holidayweekend. These small touches can go a longway in providing the much needed escapism sought by consumers. Of course, these events take time and resources to plan so it’s important to know if they’ve been a success. With the right technology in place, retailers can effectively track a range of KPIs, such as any sales increases or the impact on footfall to help decide if they are worth pursuing throughout the year. Personalising customer interactions Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, data driven personalisation became synonymous with online retail. Now, online retailers, such as Amazon, can remember previous orders, suggest items that may also be of interest or alternatives if a person’s first-choice item is out of stock.

For bricks-and-mortar retailers offering this level of personalisation isn’t always as straight forward. Smaller retailers may know their regular and most loyal customers by name and potentially remember what they tend to buy, but this relies a lot on the in-store asso ciates memory. The application of AI to shopper footfall data can help calculate the split of customers in terms of gender, dwell time and sentiment and is proving effective in allowing retailers to deliver the kind of personalised experiences shoppers receive online. The technology allows brands to channel their sales and marketing efforts towards those cus tomers who are most likely to convert and achieve better ROI at a time when your own budgets might be stretched. Similarly, this insight can be used to offer consumers the opportunity to attend store events or sign-up to deals that theymight be interested in - creating powerful personalised experiences. Ultimately, with so much uncertainty on the horizon, retailers need to be doing everything they can to not only capitalise on consumers' current desire to spend, but also put measures in place to help combat the challenges we are likely to face over the winter months. For more information on Ipsos Retail Performance, visit www.ipsos-retailperformance. com.

Peter Luff

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