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Stuart O'Brien

Learn from the best at next month’s eTailing Summit

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There are just a handful of delegate places left for next month’s eTailing Summit – don’t miss out on expert insight for our great line up of speakers, including Shopify, Furniture Box and Bluebella.

The seminar schedule includes:-

Marketing cost vs turnover: a customer centric approach to data

With the end of third party tracking in sight how will ecommerce companies analyse and track consumers and their behaviour if tracking their journey is harder. This session will discuss how to get around this; using the data you do have and getting ahead of the curve; making the data work for the company.

• The problem – the end of tracking
• TACOS/MER – an old school metric, relevant again.
• Why TACOS?
• How FurnitureboxUK uses TACOS
• What does the future hold?

Presented by: James Ewens, Head of e Commerce, Furniture Box

Innovations in digital marketing & social media

In light of IOS 15 how can companies connect, use data & analytics from your site through different marketing channels. How it all affects your digital marketing?

• Creating the right, personalised content at different stages to push customers down your sales funnel
• Automated marketing – creating quality content and driving engagements through social media sites
• The value of ads and what can happen to sales when you turn them off
• Creating positive messages and brand associations alongside kidnapping customers!
• Do you have to be sustainable? How does this impact revenues?

Presented by: Filip Janczak, Marketing Manager, Bluebella

Is complexity killing your business?

With customer/shopper expectations becoming ever more demanding and sophisticated, the temptation for retailers is to double down on building complex tech and organisational infrastructure to meet these demands. Shopify believes that agility is actually more important than complexity.

In this seminar, we will cover:

  • The problems with too much complexity in tech and organisational design
  • The importance of speed to market when testing, learning and iterating
  • How to build this without sacrificing on customer experience

Presented by: Jim Rudall – Head of Revenue, EMEA, Shopify

8th February 2022 – Hilton London Canary Wharf / Virtual attendance

Your free pass includes; an itinerary of 1-2-1 meetings with budget-saving suppliers, access to a series of seminars led by industry experts, networking with peers who share your challenges, plus lunch and refreshments throughout.

Click here to book via our short booking form. There is also an option to attend virtually.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch!

Brand success in 2022 ‘requires an understanding of mood, monotony and motivation’

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Team Lewis has launched its latest trends guide in partnership with market research firm GWI, looking into how today’s multi-moment audience is evolving and the changes the pandemic has brought about in today’s marketing multiverse.

Markets covered in the report include Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Malaysia, Netherlands, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, UK and US. 

With a rise in screen time and device ownership, unrestrained social media usage and growing concerns surrounding privacy, today’s audiences have an increased desire to impact the world around them. These shifts point to three key themes covered in the report – ending monotony to avoid marketing immunity, understanding how mood can impact an audience, and tapping into key motivators to foster more meaningful connections.  

Key findings include: 

Screen time 

o        Screen time continues to grow in most countries, with the exception of Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and the US   

o        Hong Kongers & Malaysians prefer to spend more time on their mobile devices compared to PCs, laptops and tablets

Device ownership 

o        Globally, audiences own at least three devices   

o        Malaysians on average own fewer than three devices but spend the most time on the internet globally. The US, UK, Germany and Italy are above the global average when it comes to device ownership.

Social Media usage 

o        APAC countries use an average of four platforms daily  

o        Western Europe has the lowest usage, with fewer than three platforms daily

Attitudes towards privacy 

o        Globally, the top concern amongst consumers is how companies use their personal data online (39%) followed by a preference to maintain anonymity online (34%)

Today’s marketing landscape 

o        Leading channels 

  • The website is still king – 56% visited a brand’s website in the last month   
  • Newsletters are still effective – 26% read an email or newsletter from a brand  

o        Expectations of consumers 

  • Global consumers unanimously want brands to be reliable, authentic and innovative 

o        The rise of Audio 

  • In the last three years, there has been an increase in consumption of music streaming services and podcasts 
  • Australia & Singapore are seeing the most growth in music streaming and podcast listenership YOY  

o        Scepticism with social media 

  • Only 23% of consumers globally think social media is good for society 
  • Malaysians are the most positive about social media, with 40% seeing it as a force for good 

“It’s no longer as simple as getting in front of your audience with a single message as many times as possible,” said Simon Billington, Executive Creative Director at TEAM LEWIS. “Consumer expectations of a brand’s interaction with them is clear. They want unique, attention-grabbing creativity delivered in a personalised way. The complexity of message and the vehicle the message is delivered in is paramount to success.” 

Download the Marketing in 2022: Multi-Moment Audience report here.

What are the key retail supply chain trends for 2022?

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The past two years have been turbulent for online retailers. From surging demand to supply chain disruption and now soaring prices, fulfilment models remain under unprecedented pressure. With environmental commitments likely to be required by governments in response to COP26,  what are the key supply chain trends for 2022? Emma Dempsey, CEO, James and James Fulfilment takes a look at the likely changes over the next 12 months.

Rebalancing the supply chain post pandemic

Once peak season 2021 is over there will be a significant rebalancing of the supply chain. The frailties of just-in-time models have been exposed over the past two years and, with global supply chain disruption expected to extend throughout 2022, companies have recognised the need to add contingency to ensure customer commitments can be met.

The need to increase stock holdings will put further pressure on already stretched warehouse space and compel companies to think carefully about where best to locate resources. Micro-warehouses are likely to pop up in towns and cities across the UK; while larger companies will also look again at global distribution strategies in a bid to overcome disruption issues and ensure products can be fulfilled closer to the customer.

Easing global trade

The simplification and automation of charges relating to duties and taxes will  also encourage companies’ global strategies. As Brexit has so clearly exposed, there is unnecessary friction in fulfilment services as a result of customs confusion. The high overheads endured throughout cross-border trade, with products held up at customs and goods being returned to suppliers, have deterred businesses from global operations.

During 2022 systems will become more widespread to automate this process and add far more clarity. This will not only overcome the barrier to global trade but also unlock the local fulfilment model.

Increasing reliance on Artificial Intelligence

Micro-warehouses and extending global fulfilment models to get closer to the customer will demand additional capital investment – but they also open up new opportunities to service the customer.

To make this work,  companies will need access to accurate, real-time data. Data points that include rates of sale and stock turnover, as well as global patterns of customer demand, will inform initial warehouse location strategies – and then feed into replenishment models. The use of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) will play an increasing role in optimising these distributed fulfilment models: intelligent warehouse allocation rules will allow different customer offers to be made based on stock location and quantity, as well as cost and speed of shipping, and the rate of sale of stock in each area.

Green commitments

In the wake of COP26, and calls for firms to show they will hit net zero, no company can ignore the need to better understand its environmental footprint. For eCommerce companies this will require far more understanding at every stage of the supply chain, from manufacture all the way through to the last mile and returns. The shift towards local fulfilment can also mean a reduction in delivery mileage and associated carbon footprint, but companies will need to have in depth information to understand the implications in detail.

Effective, efficient supply chains are already data driven – and the onus now will be on companies, and fulfilment providers, to surface new data points that provide environmental impact insight. AI will also be a vital tool in the drive towards net zero, using environmental impact metrics such as carbon footprint to provide companies with in-depth understanding of their environmental performance to meet both government requirements and consumer expectations.

Minimising returns 

The perennial problem of returns is also one that has to be addressed more effectively during 2022 – not only in the light of rising inflation but also to reduce the environmental impact of additional, unnecessary journeys. Vast quantities of data are collected throughout the supply chain that, if analysed correctly, can provide amazing insight into returns trends.

Some vendors are already using returns data to inform strategy. Products being returned repeatedly due to sizing can be redescribed on the website and information also fed back into the manufacture process. The use of AI and machine learning across detailed returns data will also surface new insights that will provide companies with new understanding of customer behaviour and performance by SKU. Companies will need to proactively explore and use this insight over the next 12 months to gain far more understanding into returns and develop new policies to reduce the financial and environmental impact.

Do you specialise in Mobile Optimisation or Mobile Payments? We want to hear from you!

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Each month on eCommerce & Payments Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on different parts of the market – and in February we’ll be focussing on Mobile Optimisation and Mobile Payments.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help eCommerce management buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a Mobile Optimisation or Mobile Payments specialist and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Craig Ross on 01992 666726 or email c.ross@forumevents.co.uk.

Here’s our features list in full:

Feb – Mobile Optimisation / Mobile Payments
Mar – Conversion Rate Optimisation / Fraud Management
Apr – A/B Testing Platforms / Card Payment Solutions
May – Multi-Channel / mWallets
Jun – Affiliate Marketing / Payments Processor
July – Email Marketing / Payment Service Provider
Aug – Google Shopping / Chargeback Systems
Sep – Personalisation / Artificial Intelligence
Oct – PPC / Account Issuing & Merchant
Nov – SEO / Payment Solution Software
Dec – Customer Experience / IT Security

For more information on any of the above, contact Craig Ross on 01992 666726 or email c.ross@forumevents.co.uk.

Online retail’s key supply chain challenges for 2022 – And how to overcome them

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The past two years have been turbulent for online retailers. From surging demand to supply chain disruption and now soaring prices, fulfilment models remain under unprecedented pressure. With environmental commitments likely to be required by governments in response to COP26,  what are the key supply chain trends for 2022? Emma Dempsey, CEO, James and James Fulfilment takes a look at the likely changes over the next 12 months…

Rebalancing the supply chain post pandemic

Once peak season 2021 is over there will be a significant rebalancing of the supply chain. The frailties of just-in-time models have been exposed over the past two years and, with global supply chain disruption expected to extend throughout 2022, companies have recognised the need to add contingency to ensure customer commitments can be met.

The need to increase stock holdings will put further pressure on already stretched warehouse space and compel companies to think carefully about where best to locate resources. Micro-warehouses are likely to pop up in towns and cities across the UK; while larger companies will also look again at global distribution strategies in a bid to overcome disruption issues and ensure products can be fulfilled closer to the customer.

Easing global trade

The simplification and automation of charges relating to duties and taxes will  also encourage companies’ global strategies. As Brexit has so clearly exposed, there is unnecessary friction in fulfilment services as a result of customs confusion. The high overheads endured throughout cross-border trade, with products held up at customs and goods being returned to suppliers, have deterred businesses from global operations.

During 2022 systems will become more widespread to automate this process and add far more clarity. This will not only overcome the barrier to global trade but also unlock the local fulfilment model.

Increasing reliance on Artificial Intelligence

Micro-warehouses and extending global fulfilment models to get closer to the customer will demand additional capital investment – but they also open up new opportunities to service the customer.

To make this work,  companies will need access to accurate, real-time data. Data points that include rates of sale and stock turnover, as well as global patterns of customer demand, will inform initial warehouse location strategies – and then feed into replenishment models. The use of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) will play an increasing role in optimising these distributed fulfilment models: intelligent warehouse allocation rules will allow different customer offers to be made based on stock location and quantity, as well as cost and speed of shipping, and the rate of sale of stock in each area.

Green commitments

In the wake of COP26, and calls for firms to show they will hit net zero, no company can ignore the need to better understand its environmental footprint. For eCommerce companies this will require far more understanding at every stage of the supply chain, from manufacture all the way through to the last mile and returns. The shift towards local fulfilment can also mean a reduction in delivery mileage and associated carbon footprint, but companies will need to have in depth information to understand the implications in detail.

Effective, efficient supply chains are already data driven – and the onus now will be on companies, and fulfilment providers, to surface new data points that provide environmental impact insight. AI will also be a vital tool in the drive towards net zero, using environmental impact metrics such as carbon footprint to provide companies with in-depth understanding of their environmental performance to meet both government requirements and consumer expectations.

Minimising returns 

The perennial problem of returns is also one that has to be addressed more effectively during 2022 – not only in the light of rising inflation but also to reduce the environmental impact of additional, unnecessary journeys. Vast quantities of data are collected throughout the supply chain that, if analysed correctly, can provide amazing insight into returns trends.

Some vendors are already using returns data to inform strategy. Products being returned repeatedly due to sizing can be redescribed on the website and information also fed back into the manufacture process. The use of AI and machine learning across detailed returns data will also surface new insights that will provide companies with new understanding of customer behaviour and performance by SKU. Companies will need to proactively explore and use this insight over the next 12 months to gain far more understanding into returns and develop new policies to reduce the financial and environmental impact.

How To: Deliver a better customer experience in 2022

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Lucia Juliano, Head of CPG research at Toluna, outlines what the retail industry can expect in 2022 and what retailers need to know so that they can deliver a better customer experience and on their brand promise…. 

The continual disruption brought by the pandemic has made it an eventful year for UK retail in 2021. With household costs and inflation rising, as well as a key focus on climate change, strong personal values and sustainable living, the need to understand constantly evolving consumer attitudes and behaviours has never been greater.

Throughout the year, our Global Consumer Barometer research, which taps into our community panel of 35+ million members to provide accurate and timely information on consumers’ perceptions, has consistently tracked changing consumer sentiment. We’ve found that consumer sentiment is changing as fast as the ongoing pandemic—and retail businesses must pay attention or risk the consequences. They must work to predict how consumers will shop, what they will buy, what they won’t buy, and when. They need to know what influences their purchasing decisions, including what brand values they look for and what drives them to spend money. 

Retail businesses must be nimble. People expect brands to move at the same pace of everyday life, including our current news cycle. It’s essential to adjust messaging to adapt to the current climate and the way consumer behaviour is changing. If they don’t, retailers run the risk of sounding tone deaf. Personalisation is also key – retailers must empathise with customers’ everyday challenges and engage them where they are. 

A glimpse of normality

With 2021 heralding the rise and ongoing success of the Covid vaccine, we started to see a glimpse of normality. This has led to increased confidence around spending and personal finances. Whereas just 40% of UK consumers said they were confident spending money in January 2021, that number has now risen to 55%. Between January and May 2021 alone, there an 11% decrease across the UK in concerns about personal finances.

As consumer confidence has risen, so, too, has their satisfaction with life. The most recent wave of our Barometer found that 60% of UK consumers are satisfied with their lives—representative of gradual and consistent improvement from 49% earlier in the year.

Permanent change in how consumers buy and spend

UK consumers have made many changes to their purchase behaviour this year, and many will continue to buy and spend differently going forward. When asked whether they had adopted new behaviours as a result of not being able to access the same items as usual, 23% of UK consumers said they had tried a new product. An additional 20% had bought from a new brand. 

This is particularly true in the food and drink space, where we’re seeing consumers be more adventurous with their choices. Seventeen percent of UK consumers say they are trying more food and drink products/brands than before the pandemic. Twenty-three percent of UK consumers said they will stick with these new brands or products that they’ve tried during the pandemic, and 30% are open to trying new ones in the future.

Increasingly conscious consumers

Purchase behaviours are influenced by a variety of factors ,and the pandemic seems to have altered what is important to consumers. Sixteen percent of UK consumers say they now put more thought into the brands they buy, while 52% of consumers say it is important to invest time and care into the decisions they make.

In sectors such as food and drink, health and beauty, household products, and financial services, almost half (41% – 52%) of consumers say they review all brands before selecting the one they will buy. In fact, this is a more common occurrence than identifying a single brand ahead of time.

The importance of brand values

Going back to my opening point around brand values, our Barometer continues to show that factors relating to social responsibility are increasingly important to consumers and have a large impact on the brands and products they choose to buy. Fifty-two percent of UK consumers think about whether a brand supports the issues that are important to them when buying products or services, and 49% say they would switch to brands that were actively supporting social issues important to them.

The message for retailers? Regardless of the cause your brand supports, it’s more important than ever to communicate those values to your consumers; seventy-three percent of UK consumers will go out of their way to engage with brands that align with their values. Knowing this helps retail businesses differentiate their messaging from competitors or come up with something that’s authentic to their customers, which, in turn, wins customer trust and loyalty.

What comes next for retailers: Experts have their say on what 2022 will bring

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There is no doubt that the last two years have been incredibly challenging for many of those operating in the retail industry. Intermittent lockdowns, enforced high street closures and reduced footfall meant that even the strongest of retail giants struggled. And just when we thought it was all over, the new Omicron strain has brought yet more uncertainty.

During this time of fresh hardship, the lessons learnt – and opportunities taken – during the pandemic must not be forgotten. As a whole, the industry has evolved faster than anyone could have expected but the journey is far from over. As we look forward into 2022, the retailers that embrace the challenge, get creative and adopt modern technologies in order to continue to deliver for their customers, are likely to be most successful.

We spoke to some industry experts to find out what they think next year will bring and how retailers can get ahead:

Tony Lorentzen, SVP and GM, Intelligent Engagement, Nuance says:

“Leading retailers have been personalising digital shopping experiences in one way or another for many years now—personalised product recommendations based on past purchases, for example, have been commonplace for a long time. In 2022, however, we’ll see a shift toward hyper-personalisation, where every interaction is relevant and based on real customer needs in that moment.

“This requires a complete understanding of each customer’s historical relationship and recent interactions with the brand, which means data from every channel will have to be aggregated and analysed by powerful AI solutions. That brings us back to the need for digital contact centers that merge previously siloed engagement channels and provide a layer of intelligence that can understand and predict customer needs in real time.”

Zarina Lam Stanford, CMO, Bazaarvoice says:

“Consumers are increasingly online and on social media, which is leading to a boom in social commerce. Brands and retailers are already prioritizing social commerce now and are only set to increase their social commerce efforts over the next few years. According to our research, 67% of brands and retailers say that social commerce is important to their online strategy today and 70% say it will be important to their online strategy in the next three years.

“As marketers, and as consumers, this will come as no surprise. Social commerce meets shoppers where they are, and inspires them to discover new products. In a consumer survey we ran earlier this year, 84% of consumers agreed or strongly agreed that their time on social media has increased significantly since the pandemic started. Almost three quarters (74%) of respondents said they agree or strongly agree that they find themselves more influenced to shop via social media now than they did pre-pandemic. A little more than a third (35%) said that before the pandemic they rarely shopped from social media channels, but since March 2020, 30% said they now often do.

“Brands and retailers need to ensure that they are enabling product discovery, serving consumers with the content they need to purchase, and engaging with them post purchase to create loyal advocates.”

Wayne Snyder, VP Retail Industry Strategy, Blue Yonder, says: 

“The need to provide an efficient omni-experience was evident in 2021. Those retailers who were able to scale their online business thrived amid continued disruption and as we come out of the pandemic, creating the seamless experience between in-store and online is a must.

“Retailers are grappling to evaluate with the right network across a blend of large warehouses, smaller localised fulfilment centres and deliveries from stores. The need is for these to be inter-operable with intelligent decision-making as to how best to move products from anywhere to anywhere. With customer expectations continuing to rise and with new priorities such as sustainability coming to the fore, retailers must be able to respond efficiently to meet these needs in a profitable manner.

“To enable this, artificial intelligence (AI) is driving better forecasting and order decisions to ensure that products are at the right place to allow shoppers to buy from wherever, whenever. Robotics and IoT are driving efficiencies in the warehouse. Autonomous and electric vehicles will transform the last-mile, where visibility and tracking is key to enable more efficient deliveries and better communication with customers. These customers want to understand real-time availability and delivery options as they shop with same day delivery and pick-up options. This requires a seamless supply chain, involving AI tools analysing millions of data points in real-time to optimise efficiency and decision making. In 2022, the focus for retailers will be reaching this omnichannel nirvana.”

John Phillips, SVP at Zuora says:

“After years of living in fear of disruption from Amazon, retailers now understand the secret to competing with the retail powerhouse: embracing the end of ownership and doubling down on subscription membership models that offer a 360 view of the customer.

“In 2022, delivering (and innovating upon) a curated and flexible shopping experience — fueled by customer data — will become the only way to compete in the new age of retail. In order to capitalise on recent changes in consumer behaviour and come out on top, retailers will need to focus on adding true value and improving the overall experience for subscribers.

“This means ensuring the right blend of flexibility, convenience and customisation through subscription-based models has never been more important. Nor has determining a balanced pricing strategy, based on an understanding of how your customer values your offering. These are the areas that are likely to set your retailers apart and encourage that coveted brand loyalty long-term.”

John Smith, EMEA CTO, Veracode, says:

“Retail businesses face the dual pressure of being high value targets for attackers while also requiring software that allows them to be highly responsive to customers and compliant with industry regulations. Going into this holiday season, retailers can take a number of steps to tighten their cybersecurity measures and protect themselves and their customers.

“Web application attacks are the primary method for cybersecurity incidents in the retail sector, with personal or payment data exploited in about half of all breaches (2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report.) To minimise risk, retailers should continually review and adapt their web security accordingly. Ways to improve include instilling secure coding practices from the outset, scanning applications regularly for flaws, and updating software frequently as a matter of course.

“Our State of Software Security research also found that the industry has the second highest rate of high-severity application flaws (26%). Retailers should work with their developers to urgently address software application issues by using API-driven scanning and software composition analysis. Scanning for flaws in open source components offers the most opportunity for improvement in the sector.

“Last but not least, it is crucial for retailers to routinely back up their data and information so that they can return to business as usual if there is a ransomware attack. Developers can also reduce the risk of a credentials management attack by storing encrypted passwords in restricted locations and avoiding hard-coded credentials.”

Do you specialise in Customer Engagement or ePayment Solutions? We want to hear from you!

570 335 Stuart O'Brien

Each month on eCommerce & Payments Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on different parts of the market – and in January we’ll be focussing on Customer Engagement and ePayment Solutions.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help eCommerce management buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a Customer Engagement or ePayment Solutions specialist and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Craig Ross on 01992 666726 or email c.ross@forumevents.co.uk.

Here’s our features list in full:

Jan – Customer Engagement Solutions / ePayment Solutions
Feb – Mobile Optimisation / Mobile Payments
Mar – Conversion Rate Optimisation / Fraud Management
Apr – A/B Testing Platforms / Card Payment Solutions
May – Multi-Channel / mWallets
Jun – Affiliate Marketing / Payments Processor
July – Email Marketing / Payment Service Provider
Aug – Google Shopping / Chargeback Systems
Sep – Personalisation / Artificial Intelligence
Oct – PPC / Account Issuing & Merchant
Nov – SEO / Payment Solution Software
Dec – Customer Experience / IT Security

For more information on any of the above, contact Craig Ross on 01992 666726 or email c.ross@forumevents.co.uk.

eTailing Summit: Just a handful of places left for next month’s event!

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The eTailing Summit is just a month away – it’s completely free to attend and will give you the connections you need for success in 2022.

8th February 2022 – Hilton London Canary Wharf / Virtual attendance

Your free pass includes; an itinerary of 1-2-1 meetings with budget-saving suppliers, access to a series of seminars led by industry experts, networking with peers who share your challenges, plus lunch and refreshments throughout.

Click here to book via our short booking form. There is also an option to attend virtually.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch!

2022 predictions: Personalisation harnessed for better customer communication

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Paul Adams, Senior Director at Twilio UK & Ireland, shares his 2022 predictions, drawing on observations in consumer behaviour and customer engagement over the pandemic… 

  1. The increased use of first-party data to understand customers from small businesses

Historically, Netflix and Amazon have dominated the practice of personalisation by making use of first party data, but this will be increasingly used by a wider array of businesses too. The emergence of customer data platforms has made it easier for businesses to harness this data, enabling them to replicate these same levels of personalisation for themselves. Customers now expect this personalised experience, and as more companies begin to rethink their approach to customer experience and update their communication methods, we’ll see a levelling out across businesses of all sizes.

All businesses are going to need to understand all their customer touch points, journeys and profile to the same extent in the long run. Otherwise, consumers’ relationships with your business will be generic, not personalised, and ultimately the consumer will gravitate towards the competition.  So regardless of whether you’re a broadband provider, a grocery retailer, or a holiday booking company, you’ve got to prove that the way you’re engaging with customers and the experience you’re delivering is the best.”

2. The mass digital transformation of small businesses in the B2C market 

“Digital transformation was at the forefront of business conversations before the pandemic, but the sudden need to convert businesses to a digital model overnight significantly sped up the process — by as much as 6 years for many. Businesses are now coming to the end of their natural tech refresh cycles and are accepting that digital transformation is imperative for survival in the market. While large businesses are more likely to have made this jump already, smaller organisations, which have tighter resources and more restrictive budgets by nature, have been slower to make the transition. Many small businesses simply didn’t have the resources to completely remodel during the pandemic, so instead focused on making smaller adjustments for survival. Now, these SMBs, which account  for around 99.2% of businesses in the UK, will be the ones leading this technology innovation and investing in digital transformation for the longer-term. As a result, the level of digital innovation we see from SMBs will be on a level akin to that seen from entrepreneurs in the 1980s.

“Beyond that you’re going to see a lot of industries adopting technology to support better customer engagement. We’re already seeing this in the UK’s mature market, with industries like healthcare, utilities, even buying and selling cars, increasingly moving to a more digital model. Ultimately, their product hasn’t changed but the way they interact with consumers has evolved with apps, chat bots, SMS and WhatsApp for reminders, conversations and alerts. Big brands like Uber and AirBnB have mastered this technique, and innovative start-ups are integrating these lessons into their business models. However, the SMBs that got through the pandemic with limited and underdeveloped digital migrations will now be adjusting their models and their communication methods to meet this expectation.  We’re going to see some very fast-growing companies in this space, as a pressure to differentiate mounts and the ones who engage well, with a great digital service, will be the one to own the transaction.

3. Hybrid lifestyles will be consolidated in the next year, and we expect to see an increased reliance on digital communications for older demographics remote over 30s. 

“The move from pandemic to endemic is an important shift and will have a notable impact on customer engagement. This change will be felt as we experience more new variants and subsequent periods of re-socialisation – and consumer behaviour will be driven by these patterns  as we learn to live with the disease. From this we’ll see three main camps emerge: those who want to return to how things were, those who embrace a hybrid lifestyle and others who adopt a purely remote way of living.”

“Age is a large determining factor driving this changing consumer behaviour. In many cases, it’s younger people who want to return to cities for that socialisation they’ve missed out on this past year, whilst slightly older groups are feeling the benefits of hybrid or remote working more as they have more flexibility to manoeuvre their working lives around families and other commitments. These two groups will be further consolidated in this next phase of the pandemic. Hybrid lifestyles will be solidified with new, flexible commuting patterns while remote lifestyles will become more normalised as families move out of cities and become full-time work-from-home employees.

Younger demographics have historically driven digital adoption. If you look at social media, for example, it’s the 18-35 year olds that make up 80% of users in the UK.  Yet while this age group will continue to lead the charge in embracing newer inventions, we’ll see older demographics start to adapt more to the everyday use of technology to support increasingly hybrid lifestyles. From here, we’ll see greater integration of technologies like digital communications tools to facilitate these lifestyles, so people can work more flexibly and efficiently in the way they choose. Overall, this will increase the prevalence of technology in all of our communities.

4. Business tech innovation decisions will be made based on making businesses ‘future-proof’ rather than just price. 

“The pandemic has highlighted two things for businesses when it comes to technology. First is the importance of having multiple communication channels to alleviate the risk of disruption for customers, and second is the need to invest in technology that will safe-guard businesses for the future. No one could have predicted the pandemic and its effects, but for businesses, it quickly became apparent that those who were forward leaning with their technology footprint were able to make the necessary adjustments to survive. Those who weren’t struggled, and many sadly didn’t make it.  I think this idea of making businesses ‘future proof’ has really taken root and will influence our investment decisions and priorities moving forward. Thinking about long-term solutions that can weather storms will become the way we decide on investment, more so than just considering price. This is also relevant when thinking about sustainability and climate change.

“Something else to consider here is the impact of the “Great Resignation” when it comes to future-proofing businesses. The relationship between organisations and their staff has changed for the long term, and employers are now having to ask themselves how they attract and maintain essential workforce when one in four employees are re-evaluating their careers. Investing in technologies that enable flexibility and open communication with employees and customers is no longer just an IT project — it’s about making fundamental changes to the business model to ensure survival and growth. Those who deploy the tools of digital transformation will be in a far greater position for the next uncertain wave arrives. This is what we mean when we say ‘future-proofing’.”