With the collapse in the past few years of many household names, most recently BHS and Austin Reed, it’s easy to conclude that the traditional high street retailing model is broken. Yet there are traditional Bricks and Mortar organisations that have been able to transform the shopper experience, through the use of technology to both boost their sales online, but more importantly and often crucially, to drive shoppers to their stores and increase instore basket value.

Those who have failed to do this have either gone out of business, like the two organisations mentioned, or seen their share price dramatically fall.

Shoppers are more demanding and less tolerant of poor service or inadequate product ranges. They can, and do, shop elsewhere; loyalty cannot be taken for granted.

Yet improvements in technology, in particular the use of mobile, mean that companies know more about their customers and are more in touch with them than ever before. This should provide greater opportunities to drive footfall into stores, so what can retailers do to ensure they’re not missing out?

Data Is King

Omnichannel trading is defacto for medium sized retailers, but the real explosion is the potential to drive new customers to your stores, be it online or in the high street via intelligently using data.

Never before has there been so much data available about the buying habits of the consumer, with the opportunity to target individual consumers with short term offers, based on what, when and where they buy.

Research has shown that targeted communications work better than generalised campaigns. Retailers need to use the information they have on customer buying habits to offer them complementary items or notify them of offers that may be of particular interest. Better still to have the ability to improve their experience in real time, whilst in store.

Difficult to retrieve

Yet the systems that hold the data are often difficult to access, having been acquired and built on over many years. The data is now more akin to lakes of oil trapped below the ground waiting to be unlocked. The good news for retailers, is that the ability to unlock that data is becoming simpler with the increasing use of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and simplified IT services. Think of APIs as the pipes that access and connect these data sources.

A joint strategy to manage, secure and access data is a central priority for any retailer looking to survive and grow in the modern era. W3Partnership are working with our customers to help set and deliver that strategy.

Above all, shopping should be an enjoyable experience, not a chore. Wherever possible data should be used to either reduce the time spent on the mundane or make the experience an interesting and exciting prospect. Retailers who are still thinking in terms of how to get consumers to shop online, will find themselves the next BHS.


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