By Steve Ingram, Retail Director – KIT.

The retail sector has been hit hard over the past 12 months, witnessed by the plethora of household names disappearing from the UK high street. Laura Ashley, Top Shop and Miss Selfridge may all be gone or about to disappear forever, and Debenhams have only just been saved by to operate as an online marketplace platform. But in the online world of shopping, the likes of Amazon have seen its profits and market share skyrocket.

Amazon is not the only business benefiting from lockdown restrictions. Online grocery shopping sales are also rising exponentially. Consumers are adopting new purchasing behaviours and embracing an alternative to driving to an out-of-town superstore for the monthly shop, highlighted in The Economist Intelligence survey from SAP, that quotes a 78% increase in average monthly online grocery expenditure. But the monumental shift to online shopping presents an unprecedented opportunity for brands and retailers to engage new online customers in ways they never could before – giving retailers a chance to create strategies for recovery and growth.

A brave new world

Right now, retailers may feel that they are looking into the abyss, facing the unknown, trying to keep up with customer expectations that continue to change at a rapid pace. But by being more flexible, pivoting to consumer needs, retailers will meet customer demand and provide an experience that will keep them coming back for more.

A safe, convenient online experience will go a long way to help retailers get back on their feet, as almost half of consumers enjoy the ability to shop anywhere at any time, naming this as the number one factor for continuing to shop online. Whereas a quick, transparent service that saves the customer time will also help to improve customer satisfaction. 42% of all surveyed consumers cite time-saving advantages as a significant benefit of online shopping, all according to The Economist Intelligence survey.

Customers are now used to doing almost all shopping online, with a significant proportion likely to continue in the same vein for the sheer convenience and especially the time they will save. Therefore, retailers need to take a more agile approach, staying ahead of the curve by understanding customer needs and reacting innovatively to blend the in-store and online experience.

Clienteling & Assisted Selling

While the thought of reinventing and transforming a retail business could easily send shock waves through C-level executives, the technology and tools needed to adapt to this new world of retail shopping is already here in the form of Clienteling and Assisted Selling applications. These tools lend themselves to retail business transformation and are as simple to use as the mobile phone in your pocket.

Providing a platform through which Store Associates can deliver a personalised and accessible customer service, whether alongside the customer in store or remote from each other, these tools offer a consistent brand experience with the customer at the centre of it all. KIT is a leading Clienteling solution with one global customer using it across 64 countries, in 11 languages, with over 5,500 active users. Features such as Profiling, Advanced Communications, Visual Search, and integration with social media channels make it easier to offer customers their ideal products. Whether customers are personally served in the physical store or guided through the online store, they will always have their preferred Store Associate at their side.