The evolving retail landscape – and how to stay on top of it

Aerial evening time shot of a street market, featuring several stalls, vendors and shoppers.

It’s hardly a startling revelation that the Coranavirus pandemic has accelerated ecommerce growth.

Whilst this resulted in an increase in a retailer’s potential customer base, the level of competition open to that customer has also dramatically increased.

To be blunt, retailers need to up their game. Savvy consumers of 2022 demand more than ever before.

They are drawn by choice, be that in stock availability, payment acceptance or loyalty schemes.

Those same shoppers also expect simplicity, stability, speed and flexibility – all whilst continuing to feel valued as customers.  

Brands to look out for

Thankfully for them, there are a plethora of retail brands that are setting the benchmark. These include Nike, Sephora, Fraser Group and of course Amazon.

One need only look at the correlation between their speed of growth and their focus on excelling in customer experience to see that they are ahead of the curve.

They demonstrate an appetite to understand their customers, driving their organisation via client-centricity.

Two Asian women ride the escalator of a shopping mall. One of them is holding a fast food drink and a shopping bag. 
Below the escalator, there's a shop window with a display of jackets.

And what is the red thread which runs through all of these poster child brands?

They have all had notable investments in their technology stack in recent years.

Sephora’s success story

Take Sephora, a giant in the beauty industry and part of the world’s leading luxury goods group LVMH.

The cosmetics retailer had already heavily invested in their ecommerce site, and when the pandemic hit and their brick-and-mortar shops had to be temporarily closed, they had at their disposal a solid digital base to build on.

Putting to good use consumer data collected at physical stores and partnering with specialists in the field, the brand set out to expand its omnichannel strategy and fuse customers’ in-person and online experiences.

A group of three teenage girls share an eyeshadow palette while applying makeup together in their bedroom.

Deeply understanding consumer needs and having the right contractors and their expertise on their side enabled Sephora to quickly adapt to changes in their competitive ecommerce landscape.

They trialled an AI-powered tool that scans a shopper’s skin to match it to foundation shades and began emailing customers a list of products used on in-person make-up sessions.

Consequently, their efforts for blending physical and digital experiences seamlessly seem to be paying off.

The brand’s revenue was up by 22% in the first two quarters of 2022. They not only recorded market share growth but also considerably upped their customer loyalty and retention game.

However, they didn’t achieve all of that alone.

It takes a village

A group of young have a meeting seating around a long wooden table. There are three men and three women and each of them has a pen and a notebook in front of them for note-taking. They are all engaged in the conversation, which is happening in a modern room with brick walls, plants, books and abstract artwork on display.

Many retailers, eager to keep up with ongoing market transformations, turn to internal resources in the hopes of tackling it all.

Whether it’s technology projects required to deliver the high expectations buyers have or perfecting customer experience as a whole. They bring these vital pieces of infrastructure – from Magento hosting to cross-border payment acceptance – in-house.

Too focused on the question of “can we do it?‘, some forget to ask themselves whether they should do it.

Additionally, in the context of the ‘Great Resignation’ and severe digital engineering talent shortage, the answer to both of those questions might easily be simply “no”.

With that in mind, more and more retailers such as Sephora have started to come to agree on one solution: outsourcing fundamental technical needs to specialised companies such as Akoova and Gr4vy.

This way, they secure access to a guaranteed pool of talented experts, whose job is to stay on top of trends. These specialists then proactively ensure the service offered has the capacity to swiftly meet consumers’ ever-changing expectations. 

By doing that, merchants find the freedom and peace of mind necessary to focus on what matters most: their customers.

A black woman wearing a plaid blue shirt smiles at her phone.

A fireside chat

In the webinar below, Martin Newman (Consumer Champion and Author) joined Osvaldo Spadano (Founder & CEO, Akoova) and John Lunn (CEO, Gr4vy) in a conversation about retail and digital transformation.

They explore why running a truly consumer-centric business can set you up for success and innovation. Not in the future, but right now.

  • Martin Newman has worked for 40 years leading the multichannel operations of the world’s most recognisable retail brands. These include Burberry and Harrods. He is one of the world’s leading authorities on customer centricity, and author of the bestseller “100 Practical Ways to Improve Customer Experience”
  • Osvaldo Spadano is an ecommerce activist and former CTO of companies such as YOOX and Today, as founder and CEO of Akoova, his goal is to create and deliver value by solving mission-critical problems. All of that while delivering premium service tailored to each client’s needs. 
  • John Lunn is the CEO of payments solutions company Gr4vy. He is a senior executive with over 15 years experience building patented inventions, disruptive teams and companies. After over a decade of working at PayPal, he continues to stay ahead of the curve.

Learn more about how Akoova can help ensure your ecommerce business is set for success.

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