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To be customer-obsessed, retailers must be technology-obsessed

7th Apr 2016
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We have all seen the headlines recently about the retail industry;

Theo Paphitis: “After a roller coaster peak trading period, everything’s changed in retail... and there’s more to come”

Latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index reveal that online retail sales recorded an 11% year-on-year increase in 2015, equating to approximately £114 billion spent online, with Christmas record sales up 12% on 2014.

UK Retail Ecommerce Sales to Reach £60 Billion This Year  Emarketer’s latest research

The fact is the pace at which retail innovations are being adopted by consumers shows no signs of abating and the retail industry really will never be the same again.

Consumers in the UK have long been embracing ecommerce in favour of visiting the local shops.  The high street has become unrecognisable and the trend of shopping on-line will continue as digital shopping and buying behaviours continue to shift rapidly to mobile devices.

The challenges retailers face today

For today’s retailers this presents 2 key challenges; getting the right approach to win, serve and retain customers and adopting a culture that really delivers a great customer experience.  Both of these are vital and involve reviewing the operational model in place to ensure it puts customers first.

Without the right customer-serving business technology in place, customers will be stuck with web sites that don’t offer help when self serve fails, apps that don’t work, caught in a never ending call centre automatic voice recognition system or worse greeted by disenchanted and disempowered employees.

The benefits of nearshoring and why Eastern Europe is increasingly attractive

Many of today’s savvy retailers are aware of the benefits of outsourcing to a nearshore provider. Low-cost, highly skilled labour and a relatively close proximity to the UK are making Eastern Europe an increasingly attractive destination to UK businesses.

Nearshoring is becoming increasingly important as an efficiency driver and ultimately, a vehicle for better customer experiences. While in the past the established wisdom was an unrelenting focus on cost, recent times have seen a shift to considering how brands can improve the entire customer journey.

In the customer journey context, questions for retailers now centre on how best to deliver an exceptional and seamless customer experience.

The steps for success

  1. It is not as simple as moving your contact centres closer to your consumers, or a complete switch away from offshore to nearshore. It is advisable for any business looking at nearshoring to map out the entire customer journey before issuing an RFP for a nearshoring programme as it’ll be vital to look at all the channels customers interact with the business prior to determining the solution.

2.    Using technology effectively.  Today’s technology allows customers and customer-facing employees to engage through simple touch every day, including web and mobile digital experience platforms. This includes the entire digital infrastructure for marketing, ecommerce and service.


  1. Use insight to harness data and turn it into effective action. Marry upbig data, customer insights, and insights-to-execution in software to provide better customer engagement. Experienced teams, innovation and new operating models and enhanced technology enable you to optimiseyour digital marketing campaigns, increase sales conversions, offer more efficient customer self-service, optimise pricing, increase loyalty, upsell and cross sell, and reduce risk.
  2. In today’s global market place where customer diversity and global interactions are increasingly common, you may need to offer some level of multilingual support to remain competitive. A multilingual outsourced contact centre provides a number of different languages and cultures and can add huge value in delivering a great customer experience.


The good news

We are finally at the point where retailers can analyse and act upon the huge amount of data that customer real time interactions create. You can see when a customer abandons their basket, asks for something that is out of stock, needs help as the FAQ’s are not enabling them to self serve.  Amazon, for example, made headlines recently with its Anticipatory Shipping patent that predicts which products consumers will buy and ships them to a nearby hub, anticipating the purchase. Innovations like these tap directly into what people want: immediate, exceptional and personalised customer service that delivers a truly great customer experience.

In the early days of e-commerce customers were often confused, disappointed and sent off without any resolution.  Digital marketing and omni-channel approaches are now helping digital businesses to provide the kind of service you can expect when you are actually shopping in a retail outlet.

That human touch, so often missing when we shop online, will become more present in 2016 as new technology dissolves outmoded business models. This new age of customers wanting things now, needs a new approach.

The great news is the technology is now here to cater for all their needs at the click of a button and with Eastern Europe quickly becoming an outsourcing destination of choice, technically skilled, multi-lingual agents with first class infrastructures are available to leverage too.


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