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Insights from the 2019 Inside Retail Academy

Insights from the 2019 Inside Retail Academy

People want experiences. They also want convenience. Is it possible to deliver both in one retail interaction? This is just one of the many topics discussed by industry leaders at the March 2019 Inside Retail Academy.

We were delighted to support Retail Week as the March 2019 Inside Retail Academy partner, and host the Sydney event at CommBank’s offices. With a focus on next generation retail, some outstanding speakers discussed ways in which knowledge of customers, social purpose and seamless experiences can be harnessed to engage the customer of the future. Here are some of the highlights.

How well do you know your customers?

As one of the first speakers at the Academy, Danny Lattouf from brand experience agency, VMLY&R, reiterated the importance of gaining a deep understanding of your customer and custom-designing immersive experiences for that audience. 

A great example is Myer turning the entire sixth floor of its Sydney flagship store into a children’s ‘Wonderland’, with VMLY&R describing the initiative as “using immersive retail and theatrical experiences grand enough to become tourist attractions in their own right.”

Another example shows a large budget is not always a requirement to connect with a captive audience. Pineapple farmers worked with The Female Social Network to identify influential mothers - known within the Network as ‘Effective Opinion Leaders’ - who then highlighted the benefits of eating pineapples during half-time at kid’s sports matches within their online communities. The take-up as a result of this social media marketing strategy was so significant, that Woolworths countered with an in-store advertising campaign on behalf of their orange suppliers.

Seamless delivery across the value chain

According to Shane Lenton at Cue Clothing, Cue’s early commitment to omni-channel retailing has since spurred innovation across the business. Shane discussed the need for a consistent customer experience across online and in-store channels.

As such, Cue Clothing was the first retailer in Australia to offer Afterpay in-store and enabled the processing of PayPal refunds face-to-face with customers.

The importance of effectively managing multiple channels was echoed by Rod Moynihan from Zendesk, who talked about being in the right place, at the right time, when it comes to customer service. With customers increasingly communicating with retailers via chat, text and social media, better managing the resulting customer data is crucial in the pursuit of achieving a single view of the customer.

CommBank’s Ashima Chaudhary then discussed the future of payments and the way in which payments technology is supporting a more seamless, frictionless experience for retail customers. 

Ashima outlined that as credit and debit cards are increasingly replaced by phones and payments accessories, the transaction itself becomes increasingly invisible, making way for the experience of purchasing. The way in which a retailer leverages growing connectedness with smart devices and wearables to tap into new customer touchpoints can provide a key point of differentiation.

Sustainability matters

In Sydney, Volcom’s Big Tony Alavarez shed light on the importance of understanding increasing social awareness among consumers, particularly the younger generations. In this way, Volcom has taken its lead from outdoor clothing company, Patagonia - a speaker at the Melbourne Academy.

Volcom regards sustainability as the cornerstone of longevity. Each new generation is progressively more socially aware and responsible. They want to know where things come from and that the people making them receive a living wage.

Increasingly, a brand has to do something beyond simply fulfilling an immediate requirement. Consumers want to feel good and feel they are part of something when making purchases.

The retailer’s conundrum

Dr Jason Pallant from the Department of Management and Marketing at Swinburne University highlighted the stresses and conflicts driving change in retail today. An example is the requirement to meet consumer demands for both convenience and experience, where retailers are faced with the conundrum of making convenient options more experiential and vice versa. 

If considered as two separate ideals for two different audiences (one that desires convenience and the other, experience) a possible solution would be offering different channels to tailor to these needs. Or perhaps, these ideals could be considered as one with convenience being an experience in itself. 

Supporting the industry

We welcome opportunities such as partnering with Inside Retail to provide forums for networking, collaboration and inspiration. 

To further support the sector, we regularly develop proprietary research to generate evidence-based insights. The most recent edition of CommBank Retail Insights explores the factors that support resilient retailers and we are currently developing the next edition, focused on the opportunities presented by online marketplaces.  

Things you should know: The Bank believes that the information in the article is correct and any opinions, conclusions or recommendations are reasonably held or made, based on the information available at the time of its compilation, but no representation or warranty, either expressed or implied, is made or provided as to accuracy, reliability or completeness of any statement made in the article. The Commonwealth Bank does not accept any liability for loss or damage arising out of the use of all or any part of the Article.