RTIH: Looking at the hottest retail technologies right now, check-out free stores, rapid delivery services, the metaverse and NFTs, automation and robotics, blockchain and cryptocurrencies, which ones stand out to you, and for what reason?
CC: All of these innovations are exciting and pioneering, but for me successful growth is about building and maintaining emotional connections with your customers.
So as conscious consumerism continues to have more and more of an impact – not just on the purchases that shoppers make, but on their longer-term relationships with brands – I think the technologies that support sustainability and circularity are the hottest.
Retailers must be seen to be evaluating and eliminating the environmental impact of their operations wherever they can. Retailers need to be able to track the materials they use from source to market, and they need technology to do this.
From cloud enabled supply solutions and AI to recommerce and resale technologies, it is extremely exciting to see how much a retailer can do to minimise environmental unfriendliness.
But what’s even more exciting is the impact that these actions could have on customer loyalty, and your ability to retain customers and build longer lasting relationships with them by demonstrating that you understand and share their values.
RTIH: Which retail technology trend is overrated in your opinion?
CC: For years, we’ve seen traditional offline retailers struggle to be agile and make the shift online, and I believe this is because they keep trying to reinvent the wheel.
The most overrated trend in retail technology is the trend of building your own custom technology stack. It’s time consuming, it’s difficult and it becomes out of date long before you’ve finished.
I’d love to see more businesses realising that much of what they need can be delivered in less than half the time with a platform such as Shopify and the tools that integrate with it, with a great in-house developer or agency adding the more advanced or unique touches.
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RTIH: What are the top five retail tech Twitter/LinkedIn accounts you can’t do without, and why?
CC: I have to admit to being more LinkedIn and web than Twitter, but there are a few people out there that are well worth a follow:
Rick Watson – Founder and CEO of RMW Commerce Consulting, and I believe also part of the RTIH Top 100 Retail Technology Influencers List.
Forbes – a publication rather than an individual, but I find their articles consistently interesting and insightful.
Kieran Flanagan – more marketing than retail tech but Kieran’s great to read and listen to. Highly recommend his ‘Marketing Against the Grain’.
Tobi Lutke – given LoyaltyLion works so closely with Shopify it would be remiss of me not to follow Tobi, but he covers a lot of really interesting ecommerce conversation in his posts.
Tim Jackson – If you’re interested in retail technology there’s every chance you’re an entrepreneur and Tim covers every entrepreneurial topic you can think of from day to day topics like team motivation, to bigger decisions like knowing when to give up on your business.
RTIH: If you could have a dinner party with any five retail pioneers, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
CC: I’m sure it’s been said before but the number one choice would have to be Steve Jobs. The ultimate brand marketer he built the most fiercely loyal customer base and I could ask a number of questions of him.
Guest number two would be the founder of John Lewis – I would love to see what he makes of the retail world we live in today.
Thirdly, I’d love to invite Jeff Bezos. I’d be intrigued to hear his view on how Amazon has both positively and negatively impacted small and medium sized retail. It could open up some interesting debate at the table!
The fourth guest would be Phil Knight – I really enjoyed reading Shoe Dog and would love to hear more about how the building of Nike, and how they managed to build up a base of so many lifelong fans and sneakerheads.
My final guest would have to be the brains behind Sephora’s loyalty programme – Allegra Stanley.
As someone who has run one of the most impressive loyalty programmes and brand communities in existence today there are lots of questions I’d like to ask.
RTIH: If you had one wish and could use it to solve a major retail frustration, which frustration would it be?
CC: When my Co-founder, Dave, and I started building LoyaltyLion, a key challenge stood out – how to engage and retain customers online.
This wasn’t necessarily the biggest headache back in 2012, but we could clearly see that it would become more and more challenging as ecommerce boomed, competition increased, and big players like Amazon continued to tighten their grip and squeeze others out of the market.
The key to meeting this challenge lies in delivering excellent shopping experiences that keep shoppers coming back to repeat purchase.
Whilst the majority of ecommerce brands agreed with us back then, they also confessed that they did not have the tools, time or expertise to execute a retention strategy, even though they wanted to.
The major retail frustration for me today continues to be that too many brands – both on and offline – focus on getting more customers into the top of the funnel each day, but don’t spend time on retaining them and building relationships with them to increase their lifetime value.
Your existing customers are your most effective growth lever, and I would love to see more brands focusing on driving revenue through increased customer loyalty rather than pouring more budget into discount strategies and costly acquisition channels.
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