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How retailers are looking to improve the customer experience in challenging times

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Figures out today show that retail sales grew in February – but only just. Growth was anaemic and took place mostly online or in the grocery sector. Sales of non-food products in stores fell back last month, according to today’s data from the British Retail Consortium. It’s no surprise then that so many retailers are focused on ways of improving their customers’ experience and in today’s InternetRetailing newsletter we report on some of those ways.

We report how Harvey Nichols has focused on improvements to its merchandising, and on the improvements that consumers are willing to pay for in the form of their personal data, courtesy of research from Episerver.

We also focus on the upcoming GDPR regulations in today’s IRX preview, on the use of prescriptive analytics, thanks to Channie Mize of Periscope by McKinsey, author of today’s guest comment, and we focus on how London may take steps to reduce the number of lorries and vans on its road in morning peak times, with a knock on effect on online deliveries. Both GDPR and the move to cut lorry numbers may seem at first consideration like burdensome regulation. But we’d argue that both could improve the consumer experience – and retailers’ profits as a result. GDPR, set to arrive more imminently, has the the potential to cut down on the number of unwanted email marketing messages. That saves those sending marketing messages the cost of sending them to those that are not interested, and it improves open rates when they are targeted to those who are interested.

Meanwhile, the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street and the reduction of the number of lorries and vans on London’s roads, set out in the draft Mayor’s Transport Strategy, both have the potential to improve the customer experience. It’s not hard to see how a pedestrianised Oxford Street could be a much more pleasant environment, attracting more people to buy in person rather than online. But we’d suggest too that fewer lorries and vans on the streets is likely to mean deliveries are more punctual, and that customers benefit in other ways, such as emptier streets, faster journeys and cleaner air. One approach that could achieve this reduction might come by consolidating retail deliveries to local hubs from where smaller numbers of vans can make the last mile delivery. Currently this is being created for the construction sector in London but it’s a not a big leap to see it happen in retail too.


Find out more about upcoming InternetRetailing webinars and register for free on the InternetRetailing webinar page. You can also catch up with past webinars on the page: recent sessions have come from IBM Watson on using AI to improve the customer experience, and from SmartFocus and The Entertainer on using social to reach digital customers.

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