High street retailers must act now if they are to successfully adapt to survive in an omnichannel world.That’s the call from the Retailtopia panel of industry experts, which gathered today to discuss its vision paper on the reengineering of the supply chain.
The panel, which is organised by BT and features members including David Wild, former chief executive of Halfords and Chris Poole, global customer service development director at Diageo, aims to set out an independent vision for the future of retail. It said today that many traders do not understand the urgency and the scale of the “transformation” that’s required in order for them to thrive in a world where customers expect seamless and consistent service from retailers across a variety of sales channels and interaction points.
Jim Spittle, chairman of the Retailtopia panel and of GSI, said the panel had identified both transformation and urgency as key themes for retailers, in a world where omnichannel retailing is happening now.
“Retailers must develop a modern, connected supply chain which can cater for the modern consumer – somebody who interacts with them in-store, on the web, over the phone and through their mobile,” said Spittle. “Failure to deliver in one or more of those channels makes it hard for consumers to deal with them and risks a loss of business in an ultra-competitive world.”
He added: “In the omnichannel world, barriers to customer switching disappear. Consumers have a choice of product and retailer at their fingertips and competition is fiercer than ever before. Customer loyalty is a thing of the past. The message is clear; the time for action is now.”
Large-scale change is inevitable, said the Retailtopia panel, which laid out its vision of the future at the Retail Business Technology Expo in London today, since the supply-chain model required in order to support this type of omnichannel retailing is structurally different from traditional bricks and mortar retailing.
The panel says the job of becoming an omnichannel business requires no less from a retailer than the wholesale reevaluation of a retailer’s entire operations, from customer service to the supply chain and reverse logistics, in a world where retailers in some sectors can now expect as much as 40% of deliveries to be returned.
Emer Timmons, president of BT Global Services UK, said: “We encourage our retail and supply chain customers to consider these recommendations carefully. Fifty-four major retailers failed in 2012, the worst year since 2008, affecting 48,000 employees and almost 4,000 stores – so the risks of doing nothing are clear.
“But it doesn’t have to be this way. By taking on board recommendations from the panel today, retailers can take a big step towards achieving the Retailtopia vision of tomorrow. For some, changes of mindset will be needed – encompassing everything from embracing the online world to welcoming customers returning goods to stores and recognising that they are not creating a problem but generating more footfall and more opportunities to sell. For some the transformation will be radical but for all, the time to act is now.”
Find out more about Retailtopia and download the vision paper here.