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Changing with the consumer: Inside Retail Live

While retail started 2020 tackling the combined impacts of the holiday season bushfires and the unknown issue of coronavirus, attendees and speakers at Inside Retail Live Day 1 weren’t focused on the issues plaguing the sector. 

Rather, they were looking for ways to do better. One method, consumer futurist Amanda Stevens said, was to change with your customer.

“I’m here to deliver the silver lining,” Stevens said. 

While consumers are changing faster than ever, this ultimately presents opportunities for retailers who are willing to change with them. 

Customers are both resonating with the extra control afforded over the retail experience while also being overwhelmed with choice. They are addicted to their smartphones, with the average Australian checking their phone 226 times a day, though 60 per cent of consumers are distracted or multitasking while doing so. 

Stevens broke what consumers want into four main desires: wanting to feel connected, to feel like they are taking their time back, to feel better about their excesses, and to be served properly.

Additionally, consumers who are seeking these things are willing to pay more to get it. 

“Consumers aren’t resonating with discounts,” Stevens said, pointing to the approximately $60 million entrance and exit of failed real estate provider Purple Bricks. The brands ‘no commission’ model was attractive, but also created a perceived value as a budget operator.

“They’re willing to pay for the expertise.”

The main piece of advice that Stevens gave was that retailers need to live in their customers world – not the other way around. Brands and businesses that are curious about what their customers want and aim to deliver it will fare better than those rolling out a generic offering nationwide. 

The solution for retailers? Ask more questions of consumers, create commonality with your audience, personalise your offer to them, and redefine the ceremony of customer service. 

According to Stevens, the current customer service offering across retail is losing its soul with the fight for speed. For example, research found that Japanese tea served at the end of a 20-minute traditional ceremony was perceived to taste better than the same tea served immediately. 

By creating a perceived ceremony around customer service, such as taking the time to ask questions of your customers and listen to what they have to say, allows customers to feel special and valued. 

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