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Top 5 takeaways from Paul Waddy – NRA State of the Retail Nation Recap Part II

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Following from our part I of the State of the Nation event by NRA, here is the long-awaited part II. The first half focused on the key retail pain-points and trends as delivered by retail guru Gary Mortimer. Part II focuses on Paul Waddy, practitioner and operations expert. I was surprised by some of the stats he shared about eCommerce versus in-store. 

So here are our top tips and takeaways from Paul – enjoy! 

Surprisingly, in-store retail still accounts for over 90% of retail spend, with 9% of retail spend being eCommerce. Paul painted a picture of the retail world true to account;  Australia retail sales were down 0.4% and unfortunately continues to disappoint. November, however, was up 2.75% with a trend – November is the new December. On the back of Cyber Weekend, there was a great increase in sales and attention on November – December sales were down (although food spend was up 1.1%). All in all, Paul highlights that Australian consumers are more price sensitive and are better trained at waiting for sales. 

Takeaway 1: Refine your retail strategy for a price sensitive consumer and give the impression of value for money with your product 

A way to do this is like what Macpac do with their membership discounts – buying a jacket was nearly half the price as a member, giving a great value proposition without the need for seasonal discounts and variations. 

Takeaway 2: You’re going to have to work harder to impress customers 

Paul’s overall sentiment was that customers aren’t as happy generally – they’re less satisfied and harder to impress. They have higher expectations  41% of customers hate waiting for information, repeating information and automated phone messages. Use your technology wisely to curate a customer experience that won’t have them bored, frustrated and ultimately walking away from your product. 

Takeaway 3: The surprising facts about communication 

This one surprised me – a phone call is still the #1 way that people want to communicate with their retailers (even the millennials!) according to Showpo’s own data. The FAQ section of your website is also pretty important, with SMS and social media falling into the less popular contact forms. 

Takeaway 4: Use AI to improve customer experience 

We should all know by now how important it is to collect and use customer data, however, there is still a major gap in its application into the retail sector. You can use customer data to improve your NPS; suggest personalised products for your customer (this is something Netflix do exceptionally well) and for bespoke content creation.  

You can also use AI in warehousing with an application like putting items on shelves in proximity that are often sold together (e.g. make-up remover and cotton pads) to reduce the workload on your packers.  

Takeaway 5: Customisation is king 

You can also use AI in marketing personalisation, which is something Showpo does quite well. You can’t be all things to all people, but if you’ve got a broad product offering, you can use AI to recommend products to the customer (like what Catch do) to entice them into buying. Bricks and mortar will struggle to offer personalisation, which is why department stores struggle when customers can’t find anything. 

Personalisation is so important and a great space for huge growth in your business. Personalisation can be powered through machine learning and AI to increase sales and make your customers feel special.  

Thank you, Paul, for sharing some great top tips on improving retail across the board. If you loved reading about his insights at the NRA State of the Nation.  

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