#NEXT2022: Retailers & brands – Plotting a post pandemic path
by Michael Smollan. Competitive advantage in this new era is by using data integration and collaboration.
by Michael Smollan. The post-apocalyptic action film, Mad Max: Fury Road, told a tale of a fictious time where gasoline and water are scarce commodities, with survival the key theme. I mean let’s not draw too close a parallel, but you have to admit, the last two years have taken elements of that twisted tale and instead of that comfortable feeling of, “it’s only a movie”, had us realising that we were way too close for comfort in our bubbles.
Now is the time to be nimble as we pick up the pace and package our offerings in a new way as we welcome 2022. Global speaker, Michael Jackson said, “One has to get ones point across quickly and effectively in a simple, consistent, crisp and clear, smart and approachable way nowadays, where professionalism with sincerity makes you belong in the room.” That said, the time for ‘finding our feet’ has gone – done on the fly as the proverbial hit the fan – laying bare retailers and brands weaknesses. We now have the opportunity to ramp things up in this new world order that plays a game with ever-changing rules and shifting goal posts to be at the forefront of change. Horizon scanning and beyond – pretty darn exciting.
The digital shift is well in play for both consumers and business at large, with incremental leaps over the period Jan to November 2020 setting audacious baseline for growth, resulting in business models needing to adapt to gain the edge. Retailers and brands need the ability to respond to new shifts, cognisant of the fact that consumers are now more channel-agnostic, expecting similar experiences digitally and in store; and retailers must ensure they offer a variety of checkout and payment options as customers now expect it. So where to from here for retailers and brands exploring this space after what has been called by some – the ‘great staggering’? Global patterns tend to set the tone, filtering into our SA context overtime, as consumers collectively show new behaviours both online and in store. Reading a recent article by Linah Maigurira, Google retail marketing lead for Sub-Saharan Africa, some key observations were highlighted that shine a light on brand and retail strategies as we move forward.
It’s been said ad nauseum as we get a grip on things, that we have to focus on getting our brand’s omnichannel experience optimised and remove convenience pain points, as consumers shop part online and part offline.
Stating the obvious as we come to understand this new marketplace, but downloads of shopping apps are on the rise. This makes it worthwhile to prioritise promoting your app to drive downloads and adoption in the market. With shoppers’ phones always by their side, an app can also offer unique opportunities for personalised marketing comms.
More online shopping, fewer pain points?
Not necessarily, as the majority of pain points were caused by registration or login needed to check-out, lack of stock availability or tech issues in the purchase process. What is clear, is that retailers and brands need to prioritise offering frictionless experiences. For example, ensuring things like syncing wish lists and baskets to shoppers’ accounts so information is available no matter what device they are on.
‘Search’ and video
Be helpful. Give shoppers an additional reason to choose your products by driving your presence across creative platforms, websites and apps using videos, and ‘search’. Keep aligning offers, marketing tactics and campaigns.
Loyalty is not guaranteed. During and post-pandemic, consumers are showing an affinity for trying new brands. SA consumers showed high loyalty to retailers who offered a convenient shopping experience in times of lockdown. Long may that last. However, now is the time for retailers to be clear about their brand promise, listen to customer needs, learn from their behaviour, and adapt accordingly. Keep an eye on pricing, the timing of offers and put a high priority on highlighting brand USPs.
So too, a brand’s stance on sustainability or social issues is super important to shoppers with the ethics of a brand around fair working conditions, avoiding harmful ingredients, avoiding long delivery routes, and producing in an environmentally friendly way – all key drivers for consumers and a drum I will beat repeatedly!
Swarovski’s Richard Bezuidenhout and Jochen Schmidt observed that the key to competitive advantage in this new era is by using data integration and collaboration. Brands and retailers that analyse customer data with a geographic approach using location intelligence, are quick to adjust to new consumer shopping habits – blending data for a more complete picture. When you have a lot of data at your fingertips, it’s easy to fall down rabbit holes. They suggest focusing on simple inputs, strong modelling, and simple outputs. It’s about using all of the above, and more, to meet consumers where they are now, and where they will be in years to come.
The key to competitive advantage in this new era is by using data integration and collaboration. Brands and retailers that analyse customer data with a geographic approach using location intelligence, are quick to adjust to new consumer shopping habits – blending data for a more complete picture.
Michael Smollan is Chief Growth & Innovation Officer of Smollan. Smollan is a leading retail solutions company that delivers growth for retailers and brand owners across five continents by covering every aspect of how their brand is managed at the point of purchase, from field sales to in store and digitally. Smollan partners with brand owners and retailers to deliver accelerated growth by increasing reach, driving availability and visibility, increasing efficiency and delivering superior shopper experiences; operating across emerging and developed markets, in modern and general trade, and across physical and digital channels.
– Receive the Retailing Africa newsletter every Wednesday • Subscribe here.