This article first appeared on Retail Technology Innovation Hub.
Contrary to popular belief, we Brits don’t much like queuing; we’re increasingly less likely to go to the shops, especially when the traffic or weather is bad; and we don’t like banks that much either, not since the last recession (though we do still seem to kind of trust them). What we do like is change; we were the first country in the world to use the ATM; the first to adopt chip and PIN and then tap and pay; the first with mobile wallets. We have also embraced the payments revolution.
For the first time in 2016, cash and coins accounted for less than half of all transactions in the UK, according to the Money Advice Service. All retailers will know that the face of shopping is changing. It has never been an industry to stand still, but the challenge now is the pace of change. It is dizzying.
We don’t like shopping; we love it!
Brits continue to spend more money on goods than ever before. What’s changing is the way we’re shopping and buying. Figures from the UK Card Association in April 2017 show that UK households make more online purchases than any other country in the world. Almost everybody is buying more online; people are buying on phones, they’re buying on tablets, they’re buying in-store on phones, they’re buying at retailers on Amazon while they’re in stores. For a retailer, that’s pretty challenging.
It means that offers in the online store must be the same as the physical store; the loyalty rewards the same. And crucially, staff in the real-world store need to know what the customers have been looking at, and their preferences, from the online world as soon as they open the shop door. But this change does come with an advantage for the retailer - data.
Data has become the new marketing currency. Every online digital interaction - a keystroke - allows the retailer to build a profile of the customers’ needs and wants. It also shows them when customers spend, what they spend and how they spend their money. In bricks and mortar stores, secure use of a payment card allows identification of individual customers, and insight into their spending habits.
Before, when retailers handed out physical rewards, such as stamp cards, they had no idea what their customers did with them. Now, they can measure and respond to individuals, providing loyalty schemes that are married to consumer preferences. For savvy retailers who have the tools to tap into these new opportunities, it’s a marketer's dream.