The Future of Retail Is Human

July 23, 2020 | IN Blog, Clienteling, Events, Retail | BY Lucy Heard

“Retailers have got to recognise that they are not running stores anymore. They are running customers over a lifetime.” 

This is just one of the many thought provoking statements made in PSFK x Retail Innovation Week ‘The Future of Retail Is Human’ webinar, which we were lucky enough to be a part of.

Memorable Experiences in Retail

On the 2nd of July 2020, four retail experts came together to discuss the current and future retail landscapes. Suzy Ross (Retail Week and Bureau of Customer Keepers), Brendan Fludd (Chalhoub Group), Kevin Van Leeuwen (Amiri) and our very own Rob Niedzwiecki (Senior Sales Manager, Proximity Insight) digitally connected over a webinar to exchange thoughts about the world of retail in the wake of COVID-19.

Rob began the discussion by asking the panel about their most memorable experiences in retail. Perhaps the most poignant answer came from Brendan, who described a childhood trip to a Build-A-Bear Workshop.

“Build-A-Bear capitalises on a moment. Their store concept is simple manufacturing. Someone could be doing that in the back of their house. But bringing it forwards and creating a touchpoint for customers means they will never forget about it.”

This was an eye-opening example of memorable retail that struck a chord. How would it transform the experience of shopping in fashion retail spaces if it were the norm to see clothes made in front of our eyes?

Driving In-Store Engagement

The next question Rob put forward to the panel asked how they drive engagement and continue to build relationships with customers. Suzy’s answer included the ‘four pillars of human connection’ that she believes all retailers should consider.

  1. Convenience: “Buying something is easier than breathing.”
  2. Fixing products: “It is on the retailer to fix their mistakes quickly. Customers shouldn’t have to do that.”
  3. Brand values: “Do the brand’s values and actions resonate with clients? Which brands are being authentic?”
  4. Feeling special: “Customers want to feel valued and important. Small gifts go a long way to make customers feel special.”

These 4 pillars show the key ways in which retailers can ensure that their customers are satisfied with the service they receive and continue to build upon their relationship with the brand. 

Brand Connections

Next, Rob asked the panel if they feel a connection to any one brand. Kevin answered that he has forged relationships with staff in his local Wholefoods.

“Every time I walk in there, it’s like walking into my own home. The staff have gotten to know me by name, they smile at me, and ask how I am. It’s not just about what the brand stands for, but the way that the people who work there represent the brand and how they make you feel.”

Relationships and Digital Platforms

An audience member asked the next question by requesting the panel to describe ‘how they cultivate relationships over digital platforms’. Brendan firstly touched upon how different the world of retail currently is, with customers unable to travel to stores and buy products in person. He then went on to say how he questioned the situation at the beginning of the pandemic, and wondered how The Chalhoub Group would maintain strong connections with their clients.

“We were able to really use those 1 on 1 relationships that our front liners and store associates established with our customers in order to keep the conversation going even when stores were closed. As a retailer, you have to be able to meet these challenges and remember that at the end of the day, it is all about a human connection and it comes down to the relationship with that person.”

Our Clienteling Tool

The recent global pandemic has highlighted just how important it is for retailers to have strong relationships with their customers if they want to continue to make sales in the face of adversity. Brendan really highlighted the importance of this point when discussing how The Chalhoub Group coped at the start of the pandemic. Kevin added that he can’t wait to use our clienteling tool in order to build strong relationships in Amiri’s first store set to open in September this year.

“Proximity Insight’s app is going to be such a helpful platform, with tools like CRM management and video call all at the touch of a button. It will enable us to connect with our clients completely seamlessly.”

The Future of Retail

Rob then asked the panel what they think the future of retail will entail. Kevin answered with:

“The future is about human connectivity. The way we make people feel lasts even longer than the product does.”

This statement rings so true. Products can only last a certain amount of time, but if a customer feels that they had a truly engaging, positive experience after shopping with a brand, it can set the company up for life.

Finally, Suzy closed the webinar with a statement on her view of the future of retail.

“Retailers need to think about their role in their customers’ lives, and change how they interact and connect with them. The merging of physical and digital interaction is going to be really interesting. Retailers have got to recognise that they are not running stores anymore. They are running customers over a lifetime.

The future of retail will be powered by technology, but more importantly, our speakers outlined, the technology must be driven by the power of people and human connection. At Proximity Insight, we know that the brands that prioritise relationships with their customers are the brands that will emerge as the more successful players after the dust of the pandemic settles and normality resumes. It is these brands that will have the highest customer lifetime value, the most important success metric.  Human interaction is the strongest builder of loyalty. That’s how we know the future of retail is human

Now is the time to utilise the power of your brand’s people, get in touch to find out how our solution can help service your brand and connect, inspire and nurture your customers. hello@proximityinsight.com 

Watch the webinar HERE.