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When SMART NI hosted its inaugural retail conference, we were happy to attend

Smart Insights from Smart Retail Conference

Some of the key takeaways from the SMART NI conference include: know your customers, learn from Amazon, act on data, induce trust, think multichannel, start with the customer, cater for ‘micro-moments’ and treat your customers well.
29 September 2017 - 6 min read

Having confidence in someone’s ability in ecommerce boils down to the experience they have working in the sector.

Therefore when SMART NI hosted its inaugural retail conference with a host of local experts — some of whom have transformed the fortunes of leading UK and Irish retail businesses — we were happy to attend.

Speakers included Gareth Dunlop of Fathom UX, Michael Curran of Adoreboard, David Morgan of Velocity Worldwide, Emily Gribben of Digital by Emma and Niamh Taylor of Digital 24. All of whom provided insights from their first-hand experience of working with customers in the retail sector.

If you were not able to attend, here are some of the key takeaways.

Know your customers

This was one of the key themes from the day. I know this seems simple, but it is one of the main problems retailers have in their business. They assume what their customers want, rather than really understanding what makes them tick.

Investing time and money in research is money well spent and, according to Gareth Dunlop, this can be achieved simply through online surveys, phone calls and emails.

Granted, not everyone will respond, but you should get enough to give you an idea of what is working and what isn’t.

One example given was the fact that Net-A-Porter apparently increased its conversion on handbags significantly after learning that its customers wanted the length of the strap in the descriptions.

Learn from Amazon

Amazon was cited as the Holy Grail for online retailers as it makes it so simple for customers to use its site (which, funnily enough, has only been redesigned once in 25 years!).

Some of the key concerns of Amazon staff are: ‘how can we improve on yesterday?’, ‘how can we make things better today for customers?’, ‘will x be better or y to make the site easier to use?’.

This drive to ‘always be on optimisation’ is a key driver in the staff ethos, and something many other retailers can adopt.

Act on data

Data is key. Having a ‘feeling’ or jumping on the next big idea is not a good way to sustain your business long-term.

Believe the data, it can’t lie, so spend time reading and analysing the data. But remember that data is useless unless you make it actionable.

Induce trust

One of the biggest conversion killers online is lack of trust.

Make it easy for your customers to trust you. Invest in good photography — stock photography that is replicated all over the web can lead to trust issues. Original photos and content will help build up a trusting relationship with your customer.

Think multichannel

Multichannel retailing is still key and will continue to be in the future.

Having customers in your shop is vital but, according to retail mogul David Morgan, the secret is to gather data ‘pre-store’ to get an understanding of what customers like and dislike.

Find out what they do when they are not with you, and how their activity changes at different times. This data can be used to build up your customer profile to help you get a better understanding of their needs.

Start with the customer

Focus on the customer, start with them and work up and don’t believe you ‘own’ them.

Don’t spend ages perfecting your customer analysis strategy, just get started, test and learn as you go.

Cater for ‘Micro-Moments’

If you haven’t heard of ‘Micro-Moments’ then you will soon, according to Emma Gribben who explained how Google is all over them when it comes to customer purchases.

‘Micro-Moments’ refer to the situation where customers need retailers in a quick moment. So if your hairdryer breaks, then you are going to Google ‘where can I get a new hairdryer that’s close to me?’

Almost 70% of UK shoppers are wanting to purchase something within a six-mile radius and 82% search for a local business on the move– so make sure you have your retail locations up-to-date and that you are indexed on Find My Business.

Treat your customers well

When you get your customers, remember to treat them well as customer experience is predicted to overtake price and product by 2020. This is according to Michael Curran who highlighted that we need to make customers feel warm and fuzzy by understanding their emotions and then trying to fix them.

Granted this is not an easy task, but it is something that retailers need to take seriously as competition increases.

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