Change In Retail Dynamics – Digital Influence On The UK Retail Sector

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The influence of digital devices on the retail sector has never been more paramount. Research has shown that in-store purchase behaviour has grown by 175% in two years [1].

Digital is now a fundamental element in the shopping experience, with the majority of consumers using their mobiles to assist in the customer journey. Mobile-shopping related searches have increased by 120% [2] in the last year. This could be attributed to the real-time interactions that can take place on the smartphone, along with ease of use and convenience.

Savvy retailers should be less concerned with where the purchase takes place, but rather how to help shoppers convert. The rise in the omni-channel approach to assist the customer along their path to purchase is a strategy the most sophisticated retailers are implementing to ensure their customers are converting on any channel. For customers, there is an expectation to have a seamless shopping experience. Therefore e-Commerce and physical bricks & mortar stores can no longer be treated as two separate channels.

Digital Marketing Mix

Retailers need to develop a digital marketing mix in order to keep up with the rate at which digital is influencing the retail sector. Considerations should be taken to optimise the user experience for an omni-channel experience. An example could be ensuring the e-Commerce site is optimised for mobile.

While retailers can capitalise on turning their customers smartphone into the best sales assistant, it is important to note that as one of the 7P’s, ‘people’ are part of the marketing mix.

Digital Marketing Mix

“By 2020 customers will be managing 85% of their relationships without ever interacting with a human” [3]

While research indicates customers will be managing their relationships without interacting with a human, retailers should consider the role that staff has in contributing to the customers’ decision making process. Automated responses now tend to be the first port of call for some retailers and while this method of communicating can be advantageous in providing a fast response, it can be impersonal. Therefore retailers should closely monitor these automated responses and ensure customers are satisfied. If not, this can be detrimental to the brand.

The future of digital in retail

More than ever digital is playing a huge part in the retail sector, and there’s no doubt it will have a part to play in transforming the retail sector as we know it. While mobile has been a prominent tool in revolutionising the way in which customers shop, newer technologies such as wearables, are emerging as the next big thing to transform the retail sector.

Focusing on the customer is key, especially their wants and needs. Retailers who connect with their customers no matter the channel will help create a seamless shopping experience, which in the end will drive traffic and increase sales for the company.


[1] Deloitte Digital
[2] Google global search data, November 2014–October 2015, as defined by searches that trigger Shopping ads.
[3] Brand Republic Insight

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