How We’ll Shop, what does the future hold for retail? Top 20 Global Retail expert Andrew Busby (episode 299)

Andrew Busby is the CEO of Retail Reflections, once upon a time he was a retailer himself – but for most of the last decade, he’s been helping retailers understand where the opportunities and threats they need to adapt for lie. That includes being a contributor to Forbes, being on the advisory boards of multiple events and magazines, and holding the position of IBM Social Commerce Futurist for over 4 years. As well as speaking at many events, and writing for many top publications. Andrew has been named a top 20 global retail influencer.

We are honoured to have Andrew giving up his time to be on the show today, and quite frankly who better could we be speaking to about what the future holds for retail.

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About Andrew

Andrew started out as a retailer himself, but now spends his time and effort helping others understand where opportunities and threats lie for their businesses.

The experience is hard-earned—Andrew spent the best part of 20 years in various IT positions when he completely flipped sectors and went into retail with Superdrug at Kingfisher. Andrew jokes that the retail industry is a little bit like Marmite. You either hate it or love it. Superdrug was a brilliant place for Andy to cut his teeth and grow with the company as they went from bricks and clicks to a robust eCommerce presence.

Consumer Trends that Will Stick Around After Covid

Clearly, Covid has forced us all to collectively adopt new behaviors.   Psychologists say that 66 days is how long it takes for new behavior to become embedded, so we can assume that many of our new habits will stick.

For retailers, it’s crucial to understand which of these new behaviors are embedded and which are more ephemeral and less likely to stick around. eCommerce has become far more common and sales online have increased overall by a little more than 10% this year.

This enormous increase will likely continue to grow as consumers have permanently altered their behaviors. Some people predict that retail purchasing may be upward of 50% of all consumer shopping in the near future. 

Time to Ditch Square Footage?

The complexity of the online retail journey continues to make it difficult to understand the impact of online and the relationship with stores. Without understanding fully the relationship between stores and their online eCommerce presence it’s very difficult to predict where unexpected problems might arise, something that will come into focus as more and more stores move to decrease their physical square footages.

Andrew says that even though there is a lot of anxiety generally, it’s crucial to understand how our customers feel and is actually really important to prioritize that over the more typical number crunching decision making processes businesses are used to. Andrew suggests that rather than ditch space, businesses should consider how they can use space more wisely to create compelling and memorable customer experiences.

Retail Goes On

Even though things are uncertain, retail is a pretty hardy beast. It’s adaptable and Andrew says that there is generally an underlying reason businesses don’t survive.

In short, if a business fails it’s usually because they aren’t giving customers what they want. A sales first approach is one of the main killers of businesses so chasing cash won’t likely be a good long term approach. What businesses need to do instead is pivot, knowing that sales come as a result of a great experience. 

Looking to 2021 

Andrew predicts some interesting trends he sees coming in 2021

  • Become Digital 
    • Becoming truly digital means integrating the digital experience as part of your business DNA. It’s not just about having digital savvy people sprinkled throughout the business. 
  • Engage with you customers.  
    • Most small, independent retailers, according to the data, completely stopped engaging with their customers when the lockdown happened. Bad idea! Keep up your relationships
  • Accelerate Innovation.
    • Now more than ever, businesses need to take innovation seriously and pursue it. Stop the tendering process and become more nimble.

Surprising Insights

Upon reflection, Andrew says he’s been interested in watching the unexpected trends that Covid created. Things like bread makers, trampolines and barbecues flew off the shelves in 2020.

The law of unintended consequences was in full swing during the summer defined by Covid and Andrew predicts we will see even more of a similar type of spending as people buy things that cushions their new reality. For the upcoming Christmas season, Andrew predicts it will be really binary as some businesses do unexpectedly well while other flop.

To consider also is the split between people struggling with loss of income and others who kept a steady income but lost opportunities to spend. Andrew predicts that there might be an unexpected tick up in the luxury sector as people look to buy special gifts after such a difficult year. 

Regardless, retailers are always adaptable, and Andrew is looking forward to watching  innovation develop from the desire to provide consumers good options on tighter budgets. 

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

The Five E’s

  • Engage: Engage your audience and keep engaging with them.
  • Excite: We need excitement and inspiration more than ever. That means online and in store.
    Encourage: Encourage your customers to interact and show up.
  • Enthuse: Enthuse about your product and your offering. It’s getting more difficult to do.
  • Be Energetic: Put some enthusiasm and energy. See everything as an opportunity.

Tool Top Tip

  • Zoom: But remember to find a balance, which informs the next point.
  • Walking shoes: Remember to get out and get a change of scenery.

Growth Top Tip

  • Know your brand, know your story. Understand what your brand is, what it stands for and what your values are.

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