What's trending in the retail sector?

The Drum wanted to get an insight into the retail sector from the perspective of the marketing services industry. So we asked a cross-section of agencies to tell us about the key trends in retail, and discovered that m-commerce is just one of the trends trailblazing its way into the future of the sector. So what are the key trends in retail?

Russell Sutton, Managing Director, WebexpectationsA drive to improve ROI from their online marketing and e-commerce stores. We see more and more of our clients have a real desire to improve the sales performance of their website (conversion rate optimisation) and to really measure and understand how their online advertising is performing. Gone are the days of wanting their e-commerce websites to solely look 'pretty'. Now clients are pushing for better sales performance from techniques such as A/B and multivariate testing.Phil Marshall, Director, Shoot the MoonValue and values remain high on the agenda across the board. With regards to value; even within the most specialist areas the need to ensure that the customer immediately recognises value for money has never been stronger. This is at both ends of the spectrum; from where the proposition is purely price driven or into more complex propositions where product innovation and service are the value drivers. From a 'values' perspective, be it how the brand engages with customers, suppliers, the environment or supports community; despite the economic conditions, these areas have remained powerful influences on the consumers' decisions and continue to be a key focus of brand communications.Mike Golding, Group Account Director, BJLThe retail world is going through unprecedented change. How the industry copes with this change is the key to any brand’s livelihood, let alone success. Whether the business model is online, bricks & mortar based or a combination of both, the customer experience is ever more crucial. This isn’t new. But how that experience develops and evolves via technology and opportunities to access the brand, desire for greater participation, collaborative consumption etc. is fundamental to any brand. Developing experiences: A more networked world allows access to millions of products and experiences. Brands that help make the shopping and choosing experience simpler and where necessary help short cut the process relevantly by acting as ‘brand butlers’ are likely to see greater success, e.g. Amazon and things that might interest you. A more complex world means that brands have to work harder to build loyalty, they have to be ever more beneficial to the customer. Whether it is providing customers with location based services to aid and enrich their shopping experience as they move around a place to providing apps with top selling items and discount opportunities (vouchers) and on to brand experiences built around participation (Build-a-Bear workshops) and personalisation (Topshop styling lounges) – it’s engaging not just selling. Sarah Johnson, Head of Affiliates, Orange BusOver the last few years we’ve continued to see an incredible growth in online consumer spend and a significant dip in people going to the high street. Moving forward the focus will be on getting consumers back onto the high streets. The trend is now to take advantage of successful digital techniques such as cashback and voucher codes, to tie offline and online together – offering consumers “in-store cashback” and even “checking in” bonuses. The continued revamp of many retail outlets – such as M&S will only reinforce the revival.Jane Asscher, 23redRetail with a cause - Increasingly consumers are seeking to make a positive impact on the world – ‘considered consumption’ is the antidote to the conspicuous consumption of the noughties and consumers are actively making ‘mindful choices’ when shopping. Our bespoke research has shown that 91% of consumers say that the ‘good’ that a company does is influential when considering purchasing a product or service (23red commissioned Research). Food retailers are stealing the march using sustainability, ethical and local shopping to enhance their brand and differentiate themselves from competitors: M&S with their Forever Fish; Coop with Fairtrade and Waitrose with their regional food strategy. Often the ‘good’ that other retailers undertake is heavily buried within their CSR strategy. The time is ripe to shout about it and help their customers feel good about the choices they are making. This question was put to a number of agencies with retail experience as part of a special supplement published by The Drum, in association with RAR. To view the full supplement, with a list of some of the top recommended agencies with retail experience, as well as comment and analysis, click below to download the pdf. (Free to subscribers only)

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