Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 20, 2018
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5min62

While the high street reported the steepest year-on-year drop in footfall since 2010, UK online retail sales have experienced dramatic growth.

Online sales grew by a storming +18.9 percent year-on-year (YoY) in March, according to the latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index. Marking the highest year-on-year growth since November 2016, March’s results round out a hugely successful first quarter, which saw average growth perform well above the 2018 forecast (+15.3 percent vs. +9 percent).

A number of key factors helped drive the month’s online sales – starting with the continued cold weather from the ‘beast from the east’, and ending with the early Easter bank holiday. Far more significant of the two, weekly analysis showed that growth doubled in the final week over Easter – surging from a steady +13 percent to +27 percent.

While all sectors showed year-on-year growth in March, there were a few standout performances. Likely linked to the bank holiday weekend, both Clothing and Beer, Wine and Spirits saw increases of +17.2 percent and +27.3 percent respectively. For Beer, Wine and Spirits this was the highest jump in the last five years. Perhaps less predictably, Electricals also had a very strong month, reversing a five-year trend of decline to record growth of +21.9 percent. In a month where Samsung launched its Galaxy S9, this could signify a concerted effort by smartphone manufacturers to increase their promotions.

Andy Mulcahy, Strategy and Insight Director at IMRG, said:

“It’s possible to read this month’s results as a simple story of online continuing to benefit from the decline of the high street – which is nothing new of course, but it may be that we are seeing an acceleration of this as we’ve moved into 2018. At the same time it could just be a blip – Easter falling in March will likely have pushed up online growth (and, by extension, it may come in far lower in April) plus the weather has at times brought heavy snowfall and prolonged rainfall.

If the strong growth is sustained into April, it would be tempting to conclude that we may have entered a new retail era – where store portfolios are going to be reduced faster under a far more radical programme of store consolidation than we have seen thus far, with digital transformation going high up board agendas and more ‘Digital Transformation Director’ job titles appearing.

But what does that mean for the high street? It’s important to remember that shopping centres have generally performed better than high streets recently, so it’s not that physical retail spaces can’t work. The question is – if retail were to start again entirely from scratch tomorrow, what would a retailer’s physical space look like? Would they be shops in the traditional sense, using all the space to market stock? Would we actually even create high streets again?”

Bhavesh Unadkat, Principal Consultant in Retail Customer Engagement with Capgemini added:

“While the comparatively stronger growth of multi-channel retailers this month further supports the weather’s role in driving footfall away from the high streets, it also highlights the potential value and relevance of maintaining some form of physical presence in addition to a digital one. The trick for retailers is to figure out how the two can successfully work in combination, and what role each must play. We’re already seeing the start of this interplay in the trend for showrooming, but that is just one possible innovation of many.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 16, 2018
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2min290

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon will face “negative repercussions” for “ignoring” customers by shutting down their social media channels, it has been warned.

The company ran over 900 accounts on platforms including Twitter and Facebook, and has said the decision on Monday morning was taken over concerns the accounts were being used to troll MPs.

The staunchly pro-Brexit brand announced the move in a now-deleted tweet by Chairman Tim Martin, who wrote: “We are going against conventional wisdom that these platforms are a vital component of a successful business. I don’t believe that closing these accounts will affect our business whatsoever, and this is the overwhelming view of our pub managers.”

However, the move has been criticised by Customer Experience experts Medallia, whose VP EMEA Sean Farrington, said:

“Social media represents a way for people to share their views and opinions on anything and everything. In the world of commerce, to close the door on this vital channel and ignore the very powerful voice of the customer, is a highly risky strategy.

When used well social media acts as an additional earpiece for brands, enabling them to get insight into what their customers like and don’t like. It provides a platform to engage with customers in a positive way. It allows brands to hear the stories behind customers experiences and to proactively make changes to enhance them. Indeed, Medallia’s research* of the hospitality sector has found engaging with social media reviews boosts a company’s bottom line.

Love it or loathe it, social media is a part of our world now. We live in a 24/7 always on society that loves to share and loves to voice their opinions. Blocking access to a tool such as this could have negative repercussions for a brand, something Wetherspoons might find out quicker than they’d like.”


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamMarch 29, 2018
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4min545

Anticipation is building ahead of the release of the debut book from international Customer Experience consultant Ian Golding.

Titled Customer What?: The Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience, the book is set for a late spring/early summer release following a successful Kickstarter campaign that saw Ian – who is also CXM’s Non-Executive Editor – smash his fundraising target.

The new tome is described as “part practise handbook, part novel, and part therapy”, and “a practical guide to creating, and sustaining, the focus on Customer Experience to create value in the long-term”.

It distils Ian’s many years of knowledge and experience in the field, and serves it up in the approachable, witty, and informative manner familiar to those who have been trained by Ian at one of the CX Masterclasses.

Speaking of the inspiration behind the book, Ian said:

“Those who know me personally will be only too aware I have been living and breathing the Customer Experience profession for many years. As someone who has been around since the very beginning, it feels – finally – as though the business world is beginning to grasp the potential of putting customers front and centre in an organisation. We are getting through!

But we still need more people like you to join this growing movement! If this is something you aspire to do, whoever you are, regardless of your job title, this book has been written for you.”

He continued:

“Customer Experience is a challenging career choice. I learned a long time ago that just because it’s obvious to you and me that putting people and customers first makes good business sense, does not mean it will be obvious to someone else.
For every one of us that has the luxury of working in organisations that want to listen, another ten of us will be faced with the prospect of having our ideas met with cynicism, or outright rejection.

I feel there’s a need to talk a little less about theory, and more about the practical aspects of customer experience management. How do you write a CX strategy statement? How do you measure a customer journey? How can you create the right supporting culture to sustain it?

A large part of my message is that you need to understand not only the customers of a business, but the business itself. The raw materials – people, culture, business model, resources, and commitment – should always shape your approach.”

Upon the book’s release Customer Experience Magazine will publish exclusive excerpts, so keep an eye on CXM for further details.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamMarch 26, 2018
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2min466

The 2018 UK Employee Experience Awards are fast approaching, and finalists are being encouraged to take advantage of an Early Bird offer for booking tables.

The awards finals are taking place in London’s Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel on May 17, while the list of finalists for each of the 20 categories now available to view at the official awards website, and here on CXM.

Among the household names competing in this year’s finals event are clothing retailer River Island, The Royal Bank of Scotland, and beer innovators Brewdog.

Categories include Best Talent Management, Best Innovation in Recruitment, and Agency of the Year.

Meanwhile, judges scrutinising presentations on the day include Lara Plaxton, head of HR at awards partners FDM. For a full list of judges, click here.

Finalists attending the daytime event – which will see presentations taking place in the morning, and winners announced during a gala lunch – are being encouraged to take advantage of an Early Bird table offer, which allows for an incredible £300 saving on a premium table booking for 10 people (which includes champagne and wine, and a choice of table close to the stage), and a standard table for 10.

A £40 saving on individual seats is also available within the same timeframe. The Early Bird offer on all tables ends at midnight on April 13.
For more information on the awards, which are also partnered with Benefex and the World Employee Experience Institute, click here.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamMarch 23, 2018
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4min455

The recent cold weather snap known as ‘the Beast from the East’ may have caused havoc to the UK’s transport system, but it provided a welcome increase in online sales, according to newly released figures.

UK online retail sales were up +13.1 percent year-on-year (YoY) in February, according to data from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index. With the Beast from the East hitting the UK in the last week of February, the cold weather saw shoppers turn online in their droves, driving a +3.5 percent lift in sales compared to the previous week. This continues 2018’s positive start, with overall year-on-year growth averaging 13.5 percent year-to-date.

Despite the strong sales however, the overall market conversion rate (the percentage of site visitors that complete a purchase) was 4.2 percent, down from 4.6 percent last year. The conversion rates for both multichannel and online retailers also came in lower than February 2017. However, the average basket value (ABV) rose by £11 in comparison to last February.

Meanwhile, smartphone growth remained strong at +38.5 percent on last year, but is certainly slowing when compared to the +57 percent growth of last year. Tablets, on the other hand, continued their now four-month long decline trend, decreasing -6.7 percent year-on-year, a record low for this device type.

Some sectors performed notably well this February. Health & Beauty grew by +33.85 percent year-on-year – its highest growth in the last five years. In addition, Clothing continues to show strong year-on-year growth, up +14.9 percent, with accessories and footwear the top performers within this at +22.3 percent and +20.4 percent respectively. Finally Gifts also grew by a strong +9 percent year-on-year, a significant improvement on last year’s -3.3 percent.

Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement at Capgemini, said:

“February’s sales patterns clearly demonstrate the power of extreme weather on shopping habits; as people avoid the high street in favour of cosier shopping from their well-heated living rooms. As the snowy weather continued well into March we anticipate a continuation of this trend in next month’s results. We’d also draw attention to the performance of the US retail market, which has just reported its third consecutive month of falling sales. As the US market is often seen as ahead of the UK’s this could foreshadow a similar trend in the coming months. Fortunately for internet retailers, the US reported +1 percent online sales growth.”

Justin Opie, managing director, IMRG, added:

“Over the course of many years, the overall conversion rate for online retailers crept up very slowly but this has stalled recently and has now actually been in decline for three consecutive months. This suggests that shoppers are spending more time browsing, potentially across a greater range of sites, before making a final purchase decision and that may well be true, but a clear influencing factor is a shift in the devices people are using for shopping. In Q4, 32 percent of online retail purchases were completed on smartphones (the rest were through desktops and tablets) – these devices tend to have lower conversion rates due to a variety of reasons, particularly how much more susceptible users are to being distracted when using them.”


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamMarch 15, 2018
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2min479

A recruitment agency is taking an industry lead by publishing the results of a pioneering ‘scorecard’ on its staff’s performance.

Peace Recruitment offers every candidate and every client the opportunity to rate how well the Edinburgh-based firm’s consultants service their needs.

Immediately following a consultation and at other key intervals throughout the process, candidates and clients submit their scores directly from their smartphone and the results are instantly live on Peace Recruitment’s website. There is no intervention by the firm in the process.

The system has gone live and the first results are now in, with an average score of 8.9 out of 10 candidates and 8.8 for clients.

Managing Director Chris Peace created the Rate My Recruiter software with a web developer as an industry “differentiator” and says it has helped build relationships with clients and candidates.

“It is about giving control back to the customer, allowing them to make an informed decision about which agency they can trust with this important task,” Chris said.

Low scores are followed up with a personal phone call to gain further understanding on where staff failed to match the expectations of the customer.

“As we have grown it has become important to get this feedback, as it ensures my finger is always on the pulse. It’s the glue that holds the process together, and the response has been really encouraging,” Chris added.

 


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamMarch 15, 2018
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3min429

UK consumers are ignoring online retailers that address them by name or wish them happy birthday, research has revealed.

As brands continue to focus on how they can use customer data to deliver personalised messages to shoppers, new research from marketing automation suite Pure360 has revealed that only seven percent of British consumers are interested in messages that relate to their personal details such as their birthday.

Furthermore just eight percent said that they are likely to engage with online retailers that address them by their first name in their brand marketing.

The study, conducted by YouGov to poll a representative sample of GB consumers, highlighted instead the value of tailored promotions as the most important aspect of marketing messages – with almost half of UK consumers (45 percent) prepared to engage with a retail brand that uses personalised offers in their digital marketing.

Millennial consumers (18-24) were found to be the most enthusiastic demographic about personalised offers, with 54 percent reporting that they would engage with brands that contacted them about deals.

Wales was found to be the UK region with the keenest eye for such opportunities, with over half (51 percent) of consumers threre reporting that a personalised offer from an online retailer would engage them. By contrast, just 43 percent of consumers in Scotland said they would do the same, with the figure rising to 45 percent among consumers in England.

Komal Helyer, Marketing Director at Pure360 said:

“Our research indicates that there is a considerable degree of scepticism among consumers regarding the marketing and advertising communications methods of online businesses and retailers. While there is a case for personalised communications, when they represent value and opportunity for the consumer, our findings show that it is essential for businesses to know their audience and understanding the kind of personalised messaging that will lead to positive brand engagement. Personalisation as it was known may be dead, but relevant personalised communication lives on.”


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamMarch 15, 2018
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5min316

Live video tech provider Go Instore has announced that Marriott International’s European Convention Network (ECN) has grown its Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) business using the Go Instore solution.

The ECN is a collection of 21 gold standard convention hotels across Europe and is part of the 6,500 property Marriott International group. The ECN partnered with Go Instore to give event planners from around the world the option of having one to one live online consultations, tours and virtual site inspections of its largest conference venues across 10 European countries.

The ECN reports that 51 percent of customers who took a live virtual site inspection between March and December 2017 went on to book or were progressing with their enquiries.

“We have been able to attribute a significant amount of event revenue from across the globe to using Go Instore’s live video streaming technology,” said Pauline Bronkhorst, Head of the European Convention Network, Marriott International Inc., who leads the Go Instore project.

“Customers and associates love this new way of interacting, and it has helped the ECN to deliver an increase in leads and bookings from around the world since it was launched.” she added.

The Go Instore platform, which utilises technology to help businesses sell their products and services via immersive, live video, is an ideal means for local staff who have expert knowledge of each hotel to take event planners on an in-depth tour of each venue, providing them with a personalised experience and a real feel of the hotel while saving them travel time.

Go Instore’s real-time video technology uses smart phones to enable hotel sales executives to capture and stream a live video feed to their customers from anywhere in Europe.

“I’m delighted that Marriott International’s European Convention Network has experienced so much success from the immersive experiences that Go Instore provides,” added André Hordagoda, Co-founder, Go Instore.

“We look forward to helping more event planners gain rich experiences of Marriott venues without having to travel to venues and to connect them live to the knowledge of Marriott’s local experts.”

 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMarch 9, 2018
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2min363

One of Europe’s biggest train ticket retailers has launched a new voice app to help customers easily plan journeys.

Trainline has built their app for Google Assistant, and the firm has roped in the help of ‘rapper’ Big Shaq (AKA comedian Michael Dapaah) to help show off the skills of the automated service through a rap ‘battle’.

A two-minute film, available on YouTube and Trainline’s website demonstrates how Trainline’s voice app can help simplify rail journey planning. Fresh from a test session in a recording studio, Big Shaq plans his journey home by opening the Google Assistant and saying “OK Google, talk to Trainline” to activate the voice app.

He is greeted with a rapping voicebot who answers all his questions freestyle, resulting in a fun rap duet which leaves Big Shaq satisfied he has all the information he needs to have a successful journey.

Speaking about the new app functionality and the partnership, David Slocombe, Product Director at Trainline said:

“In the world’s first rap duet between a rapper and a Voicebot, Big Shaq put Trainline’s voice app through its paces but it was more than up to the challenge! Trainline’s voice app is a great example of our mission to use smarter technologies to make travel simpler and more hassle-free.”

 




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