Sir Ian Cheshire, former boss of DIY chain B&Q, was unequivocal when he delivered a lecture to fellow retailers in June. He told his audience that the rise of digital technologies had taken power from retailers and handed it to consumers. Instead of having to hop on a bus or walk down to their local high street or supermarket shoppers had the power to buy food, clothes or toys from virtually any company in the world via their smartphones, tablets or computers whenever they wanted.
It’s not just that of course, it is about consumers having more choice not only in the range of products but also the ability to quickly check and compare prices to ensure they get the best deal.
According to Interactive Media in Retail Group UK shoppers have spent £640 billion online since April 2000 with sales up 9 per cent in 2015. By 2018 the Centre for Retail Research predicts total store numbers will drop by 22 per cent with the share of online retail sales rising from 12.7 per cent in 2012 to 21.5 per cent.
It is not only retail of course: the rise and impact of digital extends across all sectors from banking to travel and transcends from B2C to B2B. Most recent figures from banking trade association the BBA found that customers will use mobile devices to check their current accounts 895million times this year, more than the expected 427 million branch interactions.
David Ebstein, head of digital for financial services at EY, says: “The British public is voting with its thumbs. Being mobile-enabled is a must, not a maybe, and banks that don’t engage properly with mobile channels risk losing relevance in customer’s lives. The next frontier of innovation will be delivering an exceptional customer experience through mobile, across products and services, and going beyond banking.”
In the next instalment of our Going Digital series, we take a look at how digitals services can work for you in-house…