Mike Coupe, group commercial director, Sainsbury’s
More savvy customers with better values: You don’t need a crystal ball to see that many households will continue to struggle in 2014. Household budgets will remain under pressure and until we see an uptick in employment, the much-vaunted economic recovery won’t boost consumer confidence overall.
But shoppers are becoming increasingly savvy and better than ever at finding value. This doesn’t always mean the lowest price possible; customers increasingly expect the right choices in product quality, and the right values in terms of provenance and ethics. We call this the ‘value of values’ and I think we’re all going to be talking more about it in 2014.
Jo Causon, CEO, Institute of Customer Service
Customer service in the boardroom: The explosive growth of multichannel retail will place further emphasis on choice for the customer, shifting dialogue with retailers and fellow shoppers to mobile, tablet and PC alongside more traditional phone, written and face-to-face methods.
The value of recommendation will continue to gain weight as people interact with social media as they browse, using it to inform their shopping decisions. Retailers that focus on customer satisfaction will reap the rewards, but it’s not just what happens on the sales floor; 2014 will see customer service move decisively to the boardroom as a critical strategic element of business success.
Jeremy Michael, managing director, Service Management Group
Holistic shopping experiences: In-store customer service will be a priority for retailers in the face of showrooming. With customers able to compare prices online via their mobile devices, brands must create loyal customers that not only return, but recommend.
Luring in customers with discounts is a popular short term approach, but dilutes brand value, as too much focus is paid on getting customers to the store rather than focusing on them once they are in the store. Next year will see a rise in stores creating a holistic shopping experience and focussing on customer service in order to differentiate themselves and increase loyalty.
Kieran McBride, partner, Joylab
Smarter omni-channel retailing: With the surge in mobile adoption and the evolution in delivery/returns options, omni-channel is a real proposition. The consumer has been empowered to choose whichever purchasing channels they prefer, using a mix of devices and offline interactions to research and complete that purchase. Marketers have lost the ability to refine and control the consumer journey.
The only way to capture custom is to provide better service, incentivise, and reward. Ensure there are no gaps in your multichannel offering. Take an evidence-led, research-based approach to design and development. Be agile, iterate and adapt to the changing consumer market. Give the consumer what they want.
Darryl Adie, managing director, Ampersand Commerce
A refocus on the high street: Next year, the high street will be central to both online and bricks-and-mortar retailer success. Online retailers will eye up the high street to establish a physical presence, through pop-ups or more permanent showrooms.
Traditional retailers will continue to develop in-store value propositions that trump online, such as delivery times of as little as 90 minutes thanks to their closer proximity to customers. Click-and-collect will move from being a differentiator to being a hygiene factor for high street retailers as consumers’ expectations continue to grow.