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EDITORIAL Mobile joins the dots for retailers in the battle for customer service

Mobile holds the key to retail success – but only if you focus on retail craft

Creating the right mobile experience is increasingly key for all retailers. While much attention has been on the High Street these past months – and rightly so – all retailers, even the pure plays, are suffering. And many hope mobile is the medicine that will cure all ills.

Of course, the likes of boohoo and others reporting their results this week perhaps imply that online is the way to go for more sales, but this is misleading. What all retailers need to do is enhance their experience – on and offline – and for many that means creating a better mobile experience.

The Entertainer is a good case in point. It never stands still with online innovation and it has revamped its website yet again to make the process of using it both online, on mobile and on mobile in-store as slick as possible.

Oasis Fashion and Warehouse have also both revamped their apps to make them much more user-friendly, both online and in-store. 

Even charity shops are starting to look to mobile to drive sales and footfall, cannily seeing that to get the next generation of shoppers and donators on board they have to be where the kids are at.

This is the start of the High Street retailer fight back against online – and what better way to beat a threat than to embrace it. To paraphrase Sun Tzu, a Chinese general credited with writing what became the bible of all sales people in the 1980s and 90s, The Art of War, ‘to beat your enemy, you must think like your enemy’. 

Retailers across the board are now joining the dots of the need for customer service, personalisation, immediacy and access to information to make a sale – all regardless of channel. This is a key shift in retailer thinking and comes just in time.

While ‘the internet’ is widely seen as killing High Street shops – even to the point that the state considered taxing it – the real problem is changing customer habits. And this applies online as much as it does off.

Look at the tie up between Snapchat and Amazon. Snapchat is a purely online business, once feted and booming, now almost forgotten, consigned by the youth of the world to lameness. It needs to do something to get those snappers back… it’s answer is shopping and what better way than to tie up with the world’s biggest inventory of goods, Amazon?

The move also helps Amazon out as it needs to get on the image-recognition triggered shopping bandwagon, but really it is Snapchat that has everything to lose here.

This, I think, shows just how cut-throat and capricious consumers are: they love it, then they hate it, then they move on. The real key to saving the High Street – and all other retail – lies in keeping up with them, rather than trying to beat off the competition. 

This is why ultimately the future isn’t all doom and gloom for retailers. While data plays a huge role in helping them keep up with changing shopper mores, it will be the retail craft that creates the experiences and customer service that will use that data to win the day. And that is still a skill people in retail have. If they can join all the dots.

Image: Fotolia

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