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As we’ve seen in the pages of this report, multichannel retailing isn’t just changing the way that people buy. It is also – or at least it should be – changing the way that businesses talk to their customers. What’s changing is not only how retailers get in touch with shoppers, but also where, when and what they talk about when they do. We’ve reflected on how this change brings challenges and opportunities, to find new ways to talk, to inspire and to respond.

Just as retailing has become customer-centric, so too must brand engagement. This is even truer in a post-GDPR world. Retailers must now talk to their customers about how they want to engage with those who’d like to sell to them. They must find out what the customer thinks is appropriate and give them the options that they want to use, rather than remaining firmly on broadcast mode.

That’s a good thing. Being in listening mode is not just about complying with the letter of the law, but also about hearing – and adapting to – what customers really want. Being open to new engagement models may well deliver new, and perhaps as yet unimagined, ways of hearing customers.

It’s not just about hearing what traders want to hear either. By dealing with shoppers’ complaints as well as their aspirations, retailers can learn from what’s gone wrong to redesign processes that better serve the end consumer. Retailers that talk only among themselves are not likely to be the ultimate survivors when it comes to brand engagement. Perhaps it’s now the case that to be truly customer-centric, retailers must listen first, and then engage with what’s been said, rather than imagining solutions that suit their needs first.

Over the coming year, we’ll be continuing to monitor these issues through our ongoing RetailX research. We’re always interested in how we can extend our research and improve the quality of our findings in this area. Is there a new or emerging tool or approach that you consider vital and that we should monitor in future reporting? Get in touch with your ideas and any potential datasets via or tweet @etail with #IRUK500.

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