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EDITORIAL ‘Woke’ and app-y – how mobile and sustainability are key to retail revival

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With the CBI warning of weak retail demand in January dragging on into February, and with the BRC showing that prices are falling while costs accrue, it would seem that 2020 is going to be bleak for retailers.

No so say consumers: they appear to be growing in confidence about spending, if the latest Consumer Confidence Index from Deloitte is to be believed. It finds that confidence in spending power in the UK is in fact growing.

There will, naturally, be bumps in the road, but overall, with Brexit now confirmed and prices falling, as well as record unemployment and low interest rates it seems they are feeling more chipper that they did at Christmas.

However, this hopeful glow needs to be tempered. Only those that mange to target shoppers with the right goods and on the right platform are likely to turn these official frowns upside down.

In other words, you need to be ‘woke’ and have an transactional app.

The power of sustainability in retail – and the ‘greenness’ of goods, services, brands and experience – cannot be understated. Today shoppers are actively choosing the sustainable options over those that aren’t. Millennials and Gen Z are combined in their growing desire to buy ethically and environmentally soundly and it is going to have a really profound impact on retailer – not just in five years, but right now.

A survey carried out by Censuswide that polled 1,000 consumers, found that 52% of those aged 16-24 are likely to choose a sustainable retailer, with this figure sitting at 50% for 25-34s. Interestingly, 48% of those aged over 55 also expressed a preference for more sustainable options, which suggests that this shift in mindset is not limited purely to younger generations.

No its not all of them yet, but it’s a lot – enough to make a big difference, especially if you ignore them.

The other driver is mobility. Shoppers are increasingly turning to mobile to do their sustainable shopping – with US shoppers spending 68% more on mobile in 2019 than in the previous year. Offering a sustainable product and service via an app is now key to success.

And the two go hand in hand. Mobile has long been seen as a research tool in the purchase funnel, the first port of call for research and price checking, with the end result being an online or in-store purchase. While this is changing – with mobile increasingly becoming the whole chain from research and discovery through to purchase – it is also driving shoppers to research the provenance and ethics of what they are looking for.

As the Censusworld study into sustaibable retail habits shows, consumers are becoming much more considered about their purchases and mobile allows them to do this very easily.

Mobile is also the internet device of choice for the young and, as a result, will become the de facto way they shop. Linking this with their desire to shop conscientiously  and your have a powerful combination – a combination powerful enough to reshape retail.

With the UK’s place in the world set to change tomorrow – Brexit day, in case you hadn’t noticed or don’t want to – retailers need to now more than ever look at how they are going to move on in the months and years ahead. This sustainable approach, based on mobile, has to be a central tenet of any new strategy for success.

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