Voice of Andrew Busby
Global retail influencer
If there’s one thing which retail isn’t short of, it’s hype cycles. What do I mean by that? Well, cast your mind back, remember when shoes were going to be 3D printed and you’d simply print off a pair in the morning depending on the weather? Or how about the metaverse? Last year we couldn’t move for it, but now it seems so pre-2023; although it does retain the ability to swallow billions as Meta has just found out.
And how about Artificial Intelligence – in a recent interview, Google-owned Deepmind CEO Demis Hassabis declared that AI could be on the verge of developing its own self-awareness. Strange when one considers that it has trouble providing accurate sub-titles for your favourite TikTok video.
But there’s one thing in retail which is no hype cycle, no shiny new bauble, and is possibly the most important factor in retail right now. To find out, let me take you to the opening of a new store.
It could be anywhere in the country, a supermarket, a fashion outlet, general merchandise, electricals – it’s all the same.
The big day arrives: merchandising has done a stellar job, it goes without saying that property has found an excellent location, the store associates have been recruited and trained and the store looks fabulous. Ready to cut the ribbon and let all those customers flood in.
But wait a minute, there’s something missing.
It’s a crucial and critical part of physical retail and one which is taken for granted in an online world, but is key to converting browsers to buyers, as we’ll discover. It’s something which demonstrates that sales per square foot alone only tells part of the story.
Browsers To Buyers
Conversion matters – just ask Jonny Wilkinson who famously won the Rugby World Cup for England by converting his kick against Australia in the dying seconds of the 2003 final.
And it holds every bit as true in retail as it does in rugby, because, in parallel with understanding how your customer is feeling at any given moment, their propensity to purchase – to convert – is probably the most importance metric in retail right now.
Employees are the core deliverers of consumer experiences
Consumer Behaviour Unpredictable
To understand the significance of this we need to take a step back and look at the macro environment because post-pandemic, inflationary hit retail in 2023 is an incredibly uncertain and volatile place to be.
Remember what the world looked like in February 2022, immediately before the war in Ukraine? Feels like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it?
The world was a simpler place, we were emerging from the pandemic and associated lockdowns and some sense of normality was returning. Predicting consumer behaviour was relatively straightforward as past patterns began to re-emerge.
That all changed of course, the war in Ukraine and the subsequent energy crisis, inflation, rising costs, a cost-of-living crisis, not to mention an ongoing global supply chain challenge. And with these, all of a sudden, the future became very uncertain and consumer behaviour extremely unpredictable.
Conversion Matters – and it doesn’t have to cost you anything!
But what has all this got to do with sales per square foot, your go-to metric for judging how well your stores are trading? In reality, it has everything to do with it. Because, as many research studies have found, there is a direct correlation between levels of store engagement with customers and conversion rates.
Consider this; you have your sales data and you have your footfall data but they exist in separate domains. What if you could combine them?
In its Future of Experience report, Deloitte outlines the relationship between engaged store associates and customer experience, because engaged customers are more likely to be converted from browsers to buyers.
Think of your store estate for a moment; you’ll no doubt have your top 50 or top 100. And chances are, your best store managers are running those top stores. But what if you could clone them?
Now you can, because not only capturing but combining real-time sales and footfall data allows deep insights into how your physical stores are actually performing; it’s like having your top manager running every store. And what’s not to like about that?
StoreTech – Free Conversion Trial – See For Yourself
StoreTech have spent 25 years working with Retailers, delivering unique all-in-one solutions combining footfall, staff alignment and intelligent optimisation. This approach allows retailers not only to measures opportunity (visitation and occupancy), but to align the right resources and engender the right set of behaviours to engage with customers to ace service and drive sales.
The approach really works and as part of our 25 year anniversary we are offering a free 3 store trial for 3 months to the first 25 companies.
About Andrew Busby, Retail Reflections
Retail expert, writer and speaker, former Forbes contributor, and author of the best-selling book ‘Harry Was Right All Along’, Andrew is the founder of Retail Reflections and former Global Retail Senior Director at Software AG.
One of the most high-profile figures in retail, Andrew is a recognised thought leader within the industry and as a global retail influencer. He is a member of the exclusive global retail community ReTHINK Retail and in addition to being in constant demand for both writing and speaking, he is regularly quoted in the media - on TV, radio and in the national press.
In a retail career spanning nearly 25 years, Andrew held senior positions at Kingfisher and Superdrug before working for several leading technology partners to bring innovative solutions to many retail businesses. In addition to publishing many retail blogs and articles, Andrew is a member of the IORMA Advisory Board, Advisory Board member at Retail Week, Founder of the Retail Advisory Board and is also editor at large for Retail Technology magazine.