How to still be in retail, 2022

‘If you want a revolution, baby, there is nothing like your own’ (World Party)

Back in 2011 I was lucky enough to join an agency whose client list included ASOS and Shop Direct. What struck me about these retailers was their intense desire to understand their customers. They had no tradition of ‘footfall’ so understood the necessity of using insight to create brand building personal relationships with their target shoppers.

It wasn’t the investment in data that marked ASOS (in particular) out. House of Fraser probably has a (shrinking) database marketing platform. No. It was their culture of using insight from data to generate shared pictures of customers: who they are, their lives; their products, services and communications likes (and needs). Everyone understood the audience. Business metrics were defined in terms of personas, not just product lines.

So why does this matter so much? Nicholas Carr’s book ‘The Shallows’ sums things up nicely. The internet has changed our brains:

• We’re easily distracted.
• We’re impatient.

We’ve come to expect personalisation. Take that away and we’re bored, distracted. We’ve got a world of personalised, fingertip tapping choices. Yes, retailers, it’s ‘our terms or no terms’.

The revolution? It’s not about data, but about accepting that dramatic change is necessary. Burberry gets it. So does Fast Fashion. Mid-market is still singing about the whole-world, probably soon to become no-world.

So, what can you do right now that can deliver actionable progress within just three weeks? Every client that has used our Panoptic Personas product has found glaring gaps (i.e. opportunities) in how they are addressing their online audiences. Their online customers are younger (so can spend for longer) and richer than their offline counterparts. But they are ignoring their needs. We can help fix that. And quickly. It’s understanding that will keep you in business.