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5 things we learnt from the BRC Omnichannel event

Date: March 01, 2014

Category: Opinion piece


Author: 5 things we learnt from the BRC Omnichannel event

On Tuesday I attended the BRC Omnichannel event in London, which featured insightful presentations and panel sessions from several retail brands.

Mobile is a communication device…

While that statement on its own may seem a little self-evident, concerns over activities such as showrooming have led to customer use of mobile devices in-store being viewed rather negatively. These seem to have subsided to some extent now as data is revealing that customers tend to use their devices to access digital content associated with the same brand or generally to find out information as part of their purchase decision, often completed in-store.

…but not so much a sales device

While sales volumes through mobile devices are increasing, particularly for some retailers offering certain product types through optimised mobile sites, this is not viewed as their primary function. Customers use these tools for generally accessing digital content and for a range of activities including research, coupon redemption, or even as the means for processing a payment. There is a real need to think about solutions that are mobile-driven, rather than necessarily completed through that channel.

Failing (fast) can be a positive thing

Due to the pace of technological change at present, and the fact that customer behaviour can be fairly difficult to predict, brands should not be afraid of trying things in order to learn and innovate, even if a reasonable number of those projects do not end up producing strong results. Trying something, failing quickly, and taking the learnings from it can be good progress in this type of technological climate. For example, a lot of the focus at the moment is on mobile, but there is a sense that the Internet of Things is starting to gather momentum (think of Google’s recent purchase of Nest) with some estimates suggesting that interconnected devices could begin supplanting mobile devices as early as 2018.

A streamlined click and collect operation is a challenge

Having a store presence can provide a useful boost for customer engagement, as it enables options such as click and collect from a convenient point. Click and collect can produce long queues however, particularly during peak periods such as lunch times. Customers also simply expect it to be available as an option for all stores irrespective of type or location, so the effect on warehouse operations is also a challenge.

The role of the store is being redefined

The opportunity to showcase product and the brand is still important, but the purpose of stores is changing. There is an argument to suggest that stores are becoming mini warehouses, due to the increase in supporting logistical processes such as click and collect and fulfilment from store. Stores are evolving into something different rather than new; or as Ibrahim Ibrahim of Portland Design had it: ‘retailers need to stop thinking of making retailing entertaining, and instead think of making entertainment shop-able’.

David J Smith, Industry Marketing Manager – Digital, GS1 UK

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