Retail Expansion: The Customer is the Key [NEW REPORT]


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A new KPMG 2013 Retail Outlook Survey notes that using or acquiring cloud technology to improve customer service and engagement will be the key to driving retail expansion over the coming years, with social and mobile having the greatest impact, and at the same time creating the greatest challenges in reaching and responding to customers via any platform they desire.

The KPMG survey reflects the viewpoints of 101 senior executives in the United States, 34% who work for institutions with annual revenues exceeding $10 billion, 15% with annual revenues between $5 and $10 billion, and 34% with revenues in the $1 to $4.9 billion range.

“Technology is paramount to driving growth and enhancing customer engagement for retailers,” said Mark Larson, KPMG global retail leader, in an accompanying press release. “With consumer behavior, spending and demographic profiles changing rapidly, it is absolutely critical that companies take an omni-channel approach to engage consumers, utilizing all the platforms at their disposal, including brick and mortar, online and mobile.”

Putting the Customer First

Retail executives have realized the difficulty in competing to provide the best price or value in a global online marketplace, and now agree that customer service is the differentiator that will propel their near-term success. When asked which areas they believed would be the biggest drivers of their company’s revenue growth in the next three years, retaining customers and adding customers were number one and two with other factors such as improving economic conditions, new pricing strategies, product innovations all taking a back seat.

Anytime, Anywhere Engagement

In 2013, social media is top of mind as 71% of executives say their companies are using the channel to reach more customers and explore new ways of doing business. This marks a whopping 58% increase from last year’s survey. Mobile and online shopping comes in next with 52% citing this as a major technology trend that is having an impact on business. This trend continues with mobile/online promotions (51%), use of in-store mobile technology by store associates (32%), and mobile payments (16%) all making the top ten. Other technology-related factors retail executives say will have an impact on business are waning brand loyalty as consumers become more empowered (29%), ability to compare products and pricing (18%) and the influence of peer rankings and reviews on consumers’ purchase decisions (17%).

Inside Information

Big data will also play a key role retail executives say, in helping to provide customer insight (72%), drive operational excellence and actionable insights (50%) and acquire new customers (36%), though almost half of respondents rated their companies’ data analytics literacy as only average.

And while most executives foresee expansion in 2013, expect revenue to increase, and agree that customers want knowledgeable staff to listen and respond to their problems, surprisingly only 11% said they expect to increase spending on employee compensation and training.

The Future is Now

The key to successfully leveraging customer service and the customer experience as a differentiator will not only be adapting quickly to the current trends such as social, mobile and big data, but mastering these more quickly than the competition with seamless delivery, and then always looking to the horizon for the next big trend. For retail and the incredibly competitive nature of the industry, the future of customer service is always now.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Tricia Morris
Tricia Morris is a product marketing director at 8x8 with more than 20 years of experience at technology companies including Microsoft and MicroStrategy. Her focus is on customer experience, customer service, employee experience and digital transformation. Tricia has been recognized as an ICMI Top 50 Thought Leader, among the 20 Best Customer Experience Blogs You Must Follow, and among the 20 Customer Service Influencers You Must Follow.


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