There is no doubt that consumer behaviours are changing rapidly and that the previously successful strategy of establishing a store and simply waiting for customers to arrive no longer works.
Today, it is consumers that define the shopping experience. Therefore, retail companies can no longer work in silos with product categories or sales channels separated. They must be coordinated and work together (Forbes Retail Trends 2018).
Of course, technology is now at the heart of consumers’ expectations when they shop, together with experience and affinity. Context and exchange between consumers is increasingly important as the excess of available products grows. Customers who share specific interests can be united around a specific product, and so companies have an opportunity to create contexts where people meet.
The fact that consumers can be reached with customised products and services is yet another trend within the retail trade that has developed significantly during the past few years. This may involve algorithms based on visitor behaviours, generating customised offers or content, but also the opportunity to customise a product with a personal character on a small or large scale. Tentative attempts have gradually been replaced with more advanced and exact technology.
A prerequisite for being able to offer smarter and more personalised offers is that the merchant must have the relevant data. Big Data. According to the report “The State of Fashion 2018”, from McKinsey & Company and The Business of Fashion, companies, particularly those within the fashion sector, need to understand that authenticity and individual expression are the elements most highly valued by customers. Therefore, companies need to use data to provide customised recommendations, engage influencers and adapt individual experience.
Interestingly enough, this major focus on technology means that the physical experience in stores is often crucial for a company’s success. The digital experience enhances the analogue experience and vice versa, and the challenge is to be able to manage these disparate concepts simultaneously. The store experience is the ultimate complement to e-commerce, at least if the merchant can create memorable experiences. As a consumer, you need to be faced with a truly great product range and professional staff, as well as different events where you are encouraged to purchase products, but which are also entertaining without you feeling obliged to shop.
More companies will also begin selling directly to the consumer without going through retailers. This is true of foodstuffs as well as other products, because the merchant will want better control over their brand and the ability to capture customer expectations and feedback directly.
Various collaborations, going beyond what we have seen in the past, will also become a trend that will surprise and inspire consumers and get companies to stand out.
The health trend will also continue – for many, health is the new luxury and something we like to show off, not least on social media.
Payment models will continue to be developed and implemented in new ways in new segments, which will create yet more opportunities for skills exchange, both within retail but also in other commercial sectors.
For our customers, the management of these complex, contradictory, inspiring and challenging trends is essential to remain a player in the future.
As an Executive Search company, K2 Search sees an industry experiencing huge change, where experience and skills in many cases need to be taken from other industries, and where leadership, business logic and culture sometimes need to be challenged at a basic level. In order to handle the demands made by consumers, companies need to be receptive to the disruptive, and dare to challenge the truths that have long been the basis of success. Together with our clients, we discuss the future and the type of specialist knowledge that will be required to manage it, as well as what skills define a successful manager of change.
Maybe it’s a new CEO destined to take over from the founder, or a first CFO or HR Manager. How do we ensure that what defines the start-up is smoothly transferred to the larger organisation? What requirements does it impose on the leadership, transmission of the vision and communication skills?
Maybe it’s a global, tradition-bound organisation rapidly losing an important market share to a newcomer. How do you change a culture to make it more agile and accepting of change, while preserving and strengthening the important values?
Within the Consumer & Retail field, we recruit roles such as: