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Retail consultant Richard Emmott shares some top tips on how fashion retailers should prepare to capitalise on the ongoing development of multichannel retailing

The way fashion retailers respond to the revolution in multichannel retailing will be a key differentiator going forward, if it is not already.

When consumers in a recent survey carried out by apparel, fashion and footwear specialist Attune Consulting were asked, ‘If you are searching for something and you find it cheaper from a brand you don’t know, would you buy it?’ only 48% said they would hold to the brand they know. The rest would jump to the unknown brand.

This, according to Richard Emmott, director of retail in Europe at Attune Consulting, means that retailers in the future cannot rely on brand loyalty alone and will need to develop a strategy utilising every tool at their disposal to not only retain customer loyalty, but to encourage them to upscale purchase and invest in more quality items.

As a result, Emmott shared his five top tips on how to become a proactive retailer:

1.   The important technology isn’t always the one you’re reading about

"The list of technology for stores is endless, but the most critical are often the least exciting," he said. "While the headlines have been ransomed to mobile and virtual changing rooms, these should be the icing on the cake. Less glamorous technologies that focus on removing complexity are critical to good business – simplifying payments transactions, improving stock availability and management and automating tasks so staff are free to be with customers."

2.   Personalise is the new P

Emmott said the customer is now in charge so retailers must personalise the experience they offer. "If retailers understand why consumers come to you, then it gets easier to make their visit valuable and rewarding," he explained. "If you are not keeping up with their interests, you have little time to react before they react and shop elsewhere; in certain markets if it is not topical and real-time then it is not relevant."

3.    Loyalty is not always its own reward

Although the traditional use of store loyalty cards may be approaching an end, Emmott said loyalty cards in particular have been identified as an untapped vein of retail potential. "Loyalty incentives hold massive potential," he continued. "If retailers can start to exploit the data they hold more intelligently, then the loyalty card is the portal through which they can start to engage more intimately with their customers." He added that privacy is, of course, an issue, "but it pales as a concern in the face of a compelling customer proposition".

4.     A wide range of delivery options is the glue between online and the store

"The success of 'click & collect' has been phenomenal and fashion retailers should offer it as standard," Emmott urged. "Many high-end luxury fashion retailers have been using a browse-and-collect service for some time but, as stores fight to respond to consumer demand and reduce queues and waiting time, instore collection services will become more important. And, it has already been shown that customers who come to stores to collect their order, will often stop to buy more at the same time."

5.     Social media needs a strategy

Social media is already embedded in the consumer’s buying culture, particularly for fashion and lifestyle brands, covering price comparisons, recommendations and criticisms, re-tweets, blog posts, forum posts and reviews. Emmott said that, what is lacking in many fashion retailers’ strategy is just that – a strategy – they are populating the social channels with stuff, without looking at things from the customer’s point of view. "Just being in every channel isn’t enough – the engagement should play to the strengths of each channel and also provide the customer with value each time they play," he concluded.

Click here to read Attune Consulting's in-depth research report, which asked 1,000 regular fashion buyers to describe how retailers can better understand their needs (following email registration). 

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