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EDITORIAL The main thing you can learn from Amazon, Asos and Zara? Fun

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If you want to thrive as a retailer in the digital age you need to copy Amazon, Asos and Zara. That is perhaps the unsurprising upshot of a survey in Australia by PayPal into how shoppers use their mobiles.

While the thrust of the survey was to look at how Australian retailers are – or rather aren’t – catering to an ever-more mobile clientele, there are several really interesting aside thrown up by the study that apply across all retailers everywhere.

According to the study, many Aussie retailers are getting it wrong by not being optimised for the “mobile entertainment experience” that shoppers now seek. The mobile is increasingly an integral part of the retail process, says the study, but increasingly it is being used for entertainment purposes: checking stuff out and maybe popping them on a wish list of similar.

That’s what passes for entertainment down-under – and, I imagine, among gen X and Z-ers the world over.

And most retailers are failing to get to grips with it. The PayPal study, finds that half of retailers in Aus are not geared up for how this works and are losing revenues as a result.

Instead, they should be looking at Amazon, Asos and Zara – these retailers aren’t afraid to experiment with technology and to try out new ways to do things, as well as constantly looking to bring fun back into shopping.

This could be one of the biggest over-looked factors in retail: it is devoid of fun. Going into stores is overall a horrendous and stultifying experience. Buying stuff on the web is also pretty dry, but at least it is easy and slick. Bringing some of the fun back is key.

With the World Cup on my TV almost constantly this week, the novelty of ‘total football’ is wearing thin-ish. But when I found the BBC’s AR-enabled World Cup app the fun returned. Imagine doing this for retail?  

Consumers clearly can imagine it. More than half of them (60%) crave an Amazon Go-like check out experience where they can, in the words of the Consumer Connectivity Insights 2018 survey, conducted by MuleSoft, have a “just walk out” shopping experience.

Of course, half don’t – many of them in the UK, surprisingly – but the half that do are significant. If they all drift away from stores because they don’t deliver what they want then retail really is in trouble.

In fact the MuleSoft study makes depressing reading. Stat after stat points to how retailers are failing to deliver the services and experiences that shoppers crave. Taken together, it and PayPal paint a grim global picture for the retail experience.

Some retailers are trying. Argos is using AR to help you choose the right TV for your room, Footasylum is somewhat cryptically saying it is ‘ready for retail in the digital age’ while being vague on details, and even Debenhams is seeing its initiatives in digital pushing its takings up… well, a bit.

Forward thinkers such as Feelunique and are also finally delivering the experiences and channels that their customers want. Both are being driven by a growing Chinese market, which is also totally mobile – and almost exclusively WeChat – driven.

These companies are bucking the trend globally – and it is about time. Survey after survey shows how consumers – probably goaded on by evil survey compilers whispering in their ears – are turning their back on retailers who don’t perform well. The time to act is now – or it won’t just be down-under if will be going under.

Image: fotolia

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