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  • Aarron Spinley

Does Size Matter?

Updated: Mar 6, 2019

It’s an age old question isn't it. In LinkedIn forums, industry conferences, and in numerous articles – there remains a latent perception that small or medium sized retailers can't compete with the “big boys” in modern CX. But is it actually true?


It is certainly true that the big brands have the biggest budgets.


But it is also true that the bigger organisations in any industry are always slower to transition, and more risk averse. Retail is no different. This is no slight on larger organisations. They need to ensure sound governance across a larger entity, perhaps across borders, and they have complex demand side technologies and data infrastructure that make programs harder to integrate. 


Of course there are some major brands who are indeed both visionary and agile, but there remains a sense that the smaller, more nimble retailers have an opportunity to set the innovation agenda.


The instant argument is that this takes money. And it does. But not like it used to.


And the instant retort is, given the macro-economic conditions no longer provide "natural" growth, retailers of all sizes need to create their own revenue momentum. Hence, the retail innovation agenda.


Even if the economics aren't as friendly as they once were, the macro consumer trends are certainly offering new opportunities.


Fast Laning


More consumers will start to expect the brands that they engage with frequently to provide a fast-lane experience. There really are no excuses anymore for anything other than frictionless payment. We’re also talking order in advance, fast intuitive pick-up, and we’re talking home delivery. Nothing particularly new here, other than the imperative to - finally - get it right.


Easy Pay

Speaking of friction-less payments, consumers also want personal payment options. Integrated payment through an account (think Uber), auto-status accumulation, mobile wallet, pay-with-points, and shared value. 


Truly Personalised In-store Experience


And this time we mean it. No really.


Unless you've been living under a rock, you will have heard all about the need for personalisation. Go to any conference, and it'll be one of the oft repeated themes. As it should be because it's true, and because for the majority - it remains untapped.


"People are genuinely respond to an experience that tells them that they matter".


Let’s frame that statement with some questions:


When was the last time you walked into a store, and the big screen lit up with “Hi there Adam, great to see you!”…?


When you last selected a garment on your screen - perhaps days before - was it waiting for you in the store dressing room, in your size and colour preferences?


Is it best use of our store realestate to have one physical point of sale that people have to queue at?


When you stopped by to pick up a pre-ordered item, when was the last time the assistant was waiting with you order, smiling, and greeted you by name – even though you didn’t call ahead?


Are retail staff best to be focused on the transaction, or the customer?


These ideas aren't really that new are they. But what is new is the capacity of brands of all sizes to actually deliver on them. The time for talk is over.

The rapid rise of platform technologies that took hold in the mid 2010's has seen to that. The fact is, deep customer-centric engagement is now very much attainable by very large portions of the industry who don’t have ‘big brand’ budgets at their disposal.


Those that realise this have an opportunity to take a genuine leadership position in the retail sector and others.


The truth is we live in exciting times, where brands of all sizes, and in all categories, can do things they’ve never done before in order to prosper. Tapping into evolving societal and consumer expectations remains the great opportunity for retailers to truly move the needle.


Big or small, many old barriers are no longer.

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