We report as grocers and supply chain professionals remind us just how peak trading could intensify the effects of a Hallowe’en no deal Brexit. But what Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis also tells us is that there’s still no knowing how, or even whether, the UK will leave the EU, and what the effects of a no-deal exit would be for retailers. That uncertainty is having as much an effect on retailers’ ability to plan for Brexit as it is on consumers who are unsure about what the state of their household finances will be by Christmas.
Retailers instead look most likely to benefit from making the customer experience as good as it can be, so that they are the most likely option when shoppers do choose to buy. We look to our European coverage this week for some fresh new ideas on multichannel and ecommerce: Zalando is using members of the public to offer local collection hubs for parcel deliveries, while Ikea has launched a new transactional app in France and the Netherlands that it says will get it ready for a “new shopping era”. And we report on a study that suggests fashion shoppers want meaningful in-store experiences, and preferably with a human rather than a robot or a screen. The place for automation, it seems, may still be firmly at the backend of the retail operation, rather than in the store. Ideally, such automation would free up store staff’s time, making them available to learn and explain how the products they sell work – and what they can bring to their potential purchaser. It’s when technology genuinely works to the customer’s benefit that retailers can expect to see a good return on that investment.
In our guest comment, John Raap of Attraqt has five top tips for retailers looking to make the most of voice search.