Why retailers need to embrace constant change

Kevin Murray, Managing Director at Greenlight Commerce, offers up his tips for future proofing your retail business…

In today’s competitive landscape, modern businesses thrive or fail due to their reputations. Poor customer experience is enough to make a shopper abandon their cart and move directly to that retailer’s closest rival, without ever returning.

There is no doubt customer expectations and habits have changed considerably due to the rise in digital technology. The modern customer wants a quick, easy and streamlined process with minimal hassle, and today’s digital disruption is giving shoppers more power and control over how they interact with brands. As a result of this, retailers must ensure they are more customer-centric than ever before.

The ‘next big thing’

Retailers are experimenting with myriad of new ways to try and meet customer demands and bridge together digital and physical shopping experiences to transform the overall retail experience. But, in their quest to meet customer expectations and remain competitive, retailers are investing huge amounts of time and money into implementing new technology in a bid to find the ‘next big thing’ that will help them grow revenue or reduce costs.

It is projected that the retail industry’s investment in AR/VR will touch around $30 billion by 2020. However, many retailers would be better placed getting the basics of customer service right before adding these additions.

Getting the basics absolutely right

Retailers often have ambitions to make a leap that is too big and too fast. They should instead focus on smaller improvements to the customer journey that can be rolled out quickly and the results evaluated immediately. An example of this would be to increase page load speeds by 2%, then improving the average time spent on a page by 5%, and then increasing checkout transactions by 1%.

These small, but immediate improvements lead to upward shifts in KPI performance, and as a result, each gain rapidly multiples to give a more consistent manner that isn’t disruptive or risky to the company. The modern customer is impatient, and the main goal for retailers should be to make shopping online as easy and as customer-centric as possible.

Test, evaluate and build

For businesses already on their transformation journey and looking to deploy a new platform, it’s crucial for retailers to focus on getting a minimum viable product live as quickly as possible, so it can then be tested, evaluated and then built on.

If a retailer has already made an investment in a new platform or technology in the last couple of years, typically the business will be in a good position to push forward, unless the project has failed. However, it’s imperative to evaluate whether the company is making the most of its investment and must also continue to make incremental changes. Retailers need to ensure their core digital offerings are continuing to perform and are not neglected in favour of initiatives that do not have an immediate impact on results.

Future proofing your business

A common misconception is that once a business has launched a new platform their work is done. In fact, one thing to remember about digital transformation is that it’s a constantly moving target and needs steady evaluation and updating to remain viable as a strategy – digital transformation is a journey, not a destination.

Whilst it may be impossible to stay ahead of customers and their ever-evolving needs, it’s important that the decisions and processes that you invest in and implement today, future proof your business for many years to come. Retailers should build a culture where they embrace constant change and are willing to try, win and fail in quick succession.

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