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UK grocery shoppers struggling to book delivery slots

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Consumers are seeking speed and convenience when shopping for groceries online, with a survey of 2,000 UK shoppers found 54% expect their groceries to be delivered within the same week and 9% expect to receive their groceries on the same day when they order online.

New research from end-to-end managed services provider Ensono shows that Younger generations are leading the way in the search for faster deliveries.

Eighteen percent of those aged 25 and under who buy groceries online expect them to be delivered on the same day of order, compared to just 4% of 56- to 65-year-olds.

New app-based groceries-on-demand providers in urban areas now promise delivery in under an hour – some as fast as 10 minutes. These services seem to be most popular with younger shoppers. Ensono’s research found younger generations were significantly more willing to try groceries on demand during the pandemic, with 13% of 18-to 25-year-olds trying groceries on demand against just 3% of 46-to 65-year-olds.

More customers than ever have turned to online channels to buy groceries. Ensono’s research found an 81% rise in UK consumers doing all or most of their food shopping online since the pandemic started. According to The Office for National Statistics, UK online sales hit 27% of total retail spending in April 2022 – down from its peak of 37.6% in February 2021 but far above 19.9% in February 2020 before COVID-19 pandemic.

The problem grocers face is reliably meeting this heightened online demand. Since the pandemic began, 28% of consumers doing online shopping have not been able to choose the deliver slots they want. Just under half (49%) agree that while they are still able to online grocery shop, there are fewer delivery slots compared to before the pandemic.

Supply chain disruption is an ongoing challenge facing grocers. Driven by factors including the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing geopolitical tensions, such uncertainty can prevent food from reaching shelves on time. Grocers have witnessed the consequences of failing to navigate supply chain disruption. In the run up to Christmas 2021, 71% of consumers reported seeing shortages in stock in major supermarkets.

Simon Ratcliffe, Principal Consultant at Ensono, said: “We are living through an unprecedented era for grocers. Whilst we have seen customers flock back to stores in recent months, the online shopping habits forged in the pandemic are here to stay as a critical part of modern retail. In this hybrid shopping era, customers are craving convenience and a service that delivers a seamless, reliable, and memorable experience between in-store and online.

“Grocers need a technology stack fit for the demands of the modern consumer. Cloud-native systems are crucial to address shoppers’ ongoing concerns about performance and availability, providing grocers with scalable computing capacity to deliver consistent and efficient global performance – whatever the level of customer demand. Cloud-native is set to become the linchpin of modern businesses: by 2025, Gartner predict more than 95% of new digital workloads will be deployed on cloud-native platforms. These solutions need to be matched with reliable back-end technology, including high-capacity mainframe systems that support vital parts of the grocery supply chain. With the right technology in place, grocers can provide consumers with a personalised experience whether in-store or online.”

90% of UK cyberattacks in retail ‘are avoidable’

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90 per cent of Director level respondents to a survey whose organisations across retail, the public sector, financial services and healthcare have experienced a cyber breach agreed most cyber attacks were avoidable.

That’s one of the insights to emerge for new research from Tanium, Cybersecurity: Prevention Is Better than the Cure, which reveals the amount of time and resources organisations spend on reactive versus preventative cybersecurity measures and the rationale behind their decisions.   

Despite the above awareness, the study shows that IT teams neglect to implement preventative cybersecurity measures for reasons such as a shortage of technical skills and budget-allocation delays from boards of directors. 

“Many organisations focus too much on cybersecurity point solutions like antivirus, rather than adopting a holistic, data-driven approach to prevention,” said Oliver Cronk, chief architect, EMEA, at Tanium. “As our research shows, many damaging security incidents – even those resulting from more sophisticated attack vectors – could have been prevented. In fact, more than half of the breaches we see could have been avoided by maintaining baseline cyber-hygiene standards. The current situation is the equivalent of leaving your front door and windows open and only locking them after a burglary has taken place.” 

Key findings include: 

Most damaging cyber attacks suffered by UK organisations are preventable. 

·       The 90 percent of Director level respondents agree that ‘the majority of cyberattacks that we have experienced within our organisation have been in some way avoidable’. 

·       86 percent of organisations compromised by a breach in the last six months believed that more investment in preventative measures (such as tools or staff training), would have minimised incidents. 

·       92 percent of organisations surveyed have experienced a breach at some point in the past, 82 percent within the last 24 months, and 73 percent in the last 12 months.   

Boards only approve new cybersecurity funding after incident has occurred. 

·       80 percent of C-suite decision makers believe the risk of cyber threats is increasing and expect 2022 to be the worst year yet in terms of the number of attacks. 

·       For IT decision makers that experienced a cyber attack in the last six months, 86 percent feel that senior leadership is likely to invest in cybersecurity only after suffering an attack; 75 percent state that “some cybersecurity incidents needed to happen” in order to get increased investment from leadership.  

·       Loss of productivity resulting from downtime is cited as the most damaging impact of a cyber attack (56 percent of all respondents). 

Preventative approaches are missed opportunities for IT teams.  

·       Almost seven in ten respondents believe that a predominantly preventative approach to cybersecurity is best (68 percent); a primarily reactive approach is favoured by only 32 percent.  

·       The skills gap and overwhelmed IT and security teams have caused preventative security measures to take a lower priority. More than half of organisations (55 percent) agree that there is insufficient staff or resources to focus on preventative security measures. 

·       Larger organisations are more likely to adopt a preventative approach, with 70 percent of organisations with 500+ employees citing prevention as preferable. Sixty percent of organisations with 250-499 employees agreed. 

·       85 percent of all respondents surveyed agreed that there is a greater cost to recover from a cybersecurity incident than to prevent one. 

A crucial element of preventative strategies is cyber hygiene, which refers to a set of habitual practices that help to secure networks and data. For example, consistent and timely patching is a fundamental element of a sound cybersecurity posture. But to be effective, organisations need to understand where vulnerabilities exist and have the ability to address them quickly and easily. The Tanium platform has these capabilities and others that help organisations strengthen cyber hygiene.  

Click here to read the full ‘Cybersecurity: Prevention Is Better than the Cure’ report, which includes more interesting findings about the attitudes of IT decision makers towards preventative cybersecurity strategies. 

Poetic study on ‘atmospheres’ reveals how consumers respond differently to retail spaces and marketing tactics

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Retailers must create ‘atmospheres’ that persuade consumers to spend time and money in their commercial spaces, but in doing so may make some customers feel welcome and others unwelcome – possibly even experiencing negative emotions such as shame, fear and disgust, a new study reveals.

Researchers from the Universities of Birmingham and Edinburgh, and ESCP Business School, in London, theorize how individuals’ responses to ‘affective atmospheres’ depends on their personal circumstances, mood, time of visit and who they experience it with.

The experts visited highly atmospheric neo-Pentecostal services and Afro-Brazilian religious ceremonies in Brazil and collected ethnographic data in the field. The researchers created three poems which could help marketers better understand how consumers react to marketing and retailing tactics, noting how responses can be negative despite marketers’ efforts.

Published in Marketing Theory, the study elaborates on how personal experiences interweave with cultural and socio-political factors to make consumers feel a certain way. The study uses poetry to apply personal experience to theories of how individuals register ‘affective atmospheres’ that envelop and yet do not belong to them.

Study author, Dr Pilar Rojas-Gaviria, Lecturer in Marketing at the University of Birmingham, comments: “In recent years, we have been immersed in complex and challenging affective atmospheres. For instance, Covid-19 presented us with many potent affective atmospheres which make us feel certain emotions: anxiety, fear, guilt, loneliness. However, while it is possible to talk of the atmosphere of a pandemic, it is clear that we do not all feel the same way and that we are all affected differently; it is not ‘the great leveller’ which some suggested.

“Creating powerful poetry helped us to understand the impact of affective atmospheres on consumers’ experiences. We must acknowledge that consumption involves a myriad of complex emotions that meld both pleasure and pain. These emotions hold meaning in our path to achieve more inclusive and fairer experiences in times of distress such as global pandemics or economic crisis.”

Study author Dr Chloe Preece, Associate Professor at ESCP Business School in London comments: “This consideration of how we land in given atmospheres opens up new thinking about nebulous and unpleasant emotions. Consumer research tends to glorify extraordinary experiences, yet consumption is not only about purchase satisfaction and mood boosts. In fact, one could argue, most consumption, not least the weekly grocery shop, can be boring and unpleasant. And now facing the weight of inflation and the possibility of an economic recession, fear and distress are sadly an important part of these banal atmospheres.”

Study author Dr Victoria Rodner, Marketing Lecturer at Edinburgh University comments: “We found that what can be pleasurable experiences for some, can be deeply unpleasant for others. This can help marketers understand how the atmospherics of retail and service spaces shape the consumer experience.”

Poetry in marketing has proven to be an effective research method to challenge conventional thinking and was the chosen method in this study.

The study shows that rather than enveloping consumers uniformly, consumers land in atmospheres in a much more nuanced way than current theories account for – due to people’s backgrounds, experiences and socio-economic status.

Marketers, therefore, need more flexible understandings of how consumers land in the atmospheres curated by retailers. Consumer research has tended to glorify extraordinary experiences, but the researchers argue there is also a need to consider more mundane experiences. Examining how consumers react to atmospheres can also demonstrate how certain products and services are created in the marketplace.

37% of transport and warehousing companies up their rates as costs rise

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The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) Business Insights report shows transport and storage companies were forced to pass on higher costs to their customers in April – and the home delivery specialist ParcelHero warns this will raise retail prices and the cost of home deliveries.

ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., said: “It’s not only households that are facing steep rises in costs. Transport, logistics and warehousing companies have also faced significant increases in the cost of energy and materials, and many are being forced to pass these on to their own customers.

“In all, 37.3% of transport, distribution and warehousing companies reported they were increasing their rates in April. That’s because 56% of companies in this sector faced significant rises in costs during March.

Jinks says it is obviously shoppers who will pay the price for rising supply chain costs, and they will end up spending more for food and goods in the next months. With that in mind, he adds that both consumers and retailers might be heartened to learn that 25.3% of transport, delivery and warehousing companies said they planned to keep on absorbing increased costs themselves, rather than pass them on, or even reduce costs.

“This underscores the fact that transport and storage sector companies are by no means the worst offenders when it comes to quickly passing on costs,” said Jinks. “A sizeable 45.1% of accommodation & food services companies and 42.6% of construction companies said they were increasing the price of their goods and services in April.

“The impact of the rise in costs does not end there. A total of 17.5% of transport and warehousing companies said their turnover decreased in March. However, problems for some companies were opportunities for others in the sector and 15.1% actually reported increased turnover during the month.”

Jinks says there was also some good news for employees in the transport and warehousing sector: The ONS’ latest business wave report says that, even though costs for companies were rising fast, none of the businesses said they were planning redundancies, and only 4.2% planned any significant decrease to staff working hours.

“Many haulage and courier companies operate on relatively low margins, so the sector has little protection or wiggle room against increases in fuel and equipment costs,” said Jinks.

To find out more about how logistics companies and their partner retailers are innovating to reduce costs and maximise the potential of technology,  see ParcelHero’s study on ‘Dark Stores’ and the High Street of the future at: https://www.parcelhero.com/research/shop-of-the-future

The store is dead, long live the store

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By Alex McPherson, Director of Solution Consulting and Account Management, Manahattan Associates

There are few in retail circles who would argue that the role of the store is the same as it was at the start of 2020, with the retail industry (like every other on the planet) undeniably changed as a result of the global pandemic.

Where once upon a time retail business models had the luxury of evolving over years and sometimes decades, retailers over the last two years have been forced to rapidly pivot their operations, change business models and switch (in many cases) to unfamiliar, new ways of working.

These changes have included the diversification of the physical store to support the increase in ecommerce; delivering entirely new offerings such as curbside pickup; and the realignment of workflows and processes to support profitability across an entire network, not just one location.

While it’s almost inevitable that ecommerce growth will outpace growth through physical stores at some point in the future, it would be a huge mistake to lose sight of the critical role stores have to play beyond purely profitability, but also in terms of softer measures of brand health, not least loyalty and the overall customer experience journey.

Today, retailers need to rethink traditionally held ideas around assets and operations: it’s not simply a matter of digital vs. physical anymore; rather it’s about how a brand can leverage all the stock and channels at its disposal to deliver that truly remarkable customer experience journey.

The key to this lies in not being distracted by the minutiae of how an order is necessarily placed, but rather, concentrating on where it ultimately gets fulfilled.

For example, Target recently reported that as much as 75% of its online orders involved their stores in some capacity: be that buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS), curbside pickup, ship from store, local home delivery from store stock, or even buy online, return in store (BORIS).

As a result of (rather than in spite of), the rapid growth of digital channels in 2020 and 2021, 21st century retailers need to understand that the store will remain a significant channel for generating revenue, customer engagement and fulfilment opportunities.

This rapid evolution has led to an increased awareness and reliance on dynamic and resilient in-store systems, critical to modern retail ecosystems – systems like modern Point Of Sale (POS).

POS has certainly come a long way since the rather perfunctory function of previous generations: no longer is POS simply a tool to complete a transaction (sales or returns) and the associated reporting; modern POS today represents the key to unified commerce, enabling activities such as endless aisle, click and collect, store fulfilment of online orders, clienteling and loyalty.

While the store may no longer be the sun around which all retail offerings orbit, a compelling bricks and mortar presence that works in harmony with a unified, smarter digital offering, could well be the answer to the question on the lips of so many retail leaders right now: ‘how do we create a compelling competitive advantage against such a significantly changed industry landscape?’

The role of the store has changed and so too has the in-store technology that supports it. This however, should not come as a great surprise as the history of the retail industry has always been one of change, evolution and progress – today’s environment, accelerated by the pandemic, is no different.

With greater emphasis on the need to fulfil, execute and optimise against ecommerce and e-fulfilment, it’s clear that the physical store, supported by modern POS systems still has a significant (if not changed), role to play when it comes to being able to commerce confidently.

While the store of yesteryear is well and truly dead, the store of today is undergoing somewhat of a renaissance. The challenge now falls to retailers to realise the true potential of their marquis bricks and mortar assets by pairing them with the right future-ready, in-store systems like modern Point Of Sale.

Wellbeing strategies: Why retail leaders need to act now

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As Covid cases hit their highest levels for months, the pandemic is exacerbating staff shortages in retail. According to ONS figures, infection rates in retail almost doubled between the start of March and mid-March. Against this backdrop of chronic absences, there were almost triple the number of vacancies in February 2022, when compared to February 2021.

Now more than ever, retailers need to show they’re putting employee health first, by developing sound wellbeing strategies. According to Retail Trust, some 91% of retail managers said they’d noticed more mental health issues among staff. However, 28% of these managers said they didn’t have enough support from higher-ups to combat the issues.

Tony Gregg, Chief Executive at retail executive search firm Anthony Gregg Partnership, highlights how retailer leaders can develop wellbeing strategies that respond to workforce needs. He also explains how these strategies can enhance productivity, engagement and happiness – and how often they should be reviewed and updated… 

What are wellbeing strategies?

Wellbeing strategies are carefully formed plans of action, intended to improve the health and happiness of a workforce. They string together employee benefits into a cohesive policy with well-defined goals. Effective wellbeing strategies can reduce absenteeism, stress and general ill health.

Unfortunately, not all companies follow a wellbeing strategy. At many organisations, benefits and wellbeing initiatives are not rolled out in a planned manner.

Develop proactive plans and lead by example

Widespread staff shortages and mixed messaging around Covid policies are creating the impression that the retail industry is not putting employee wellbeing first. If this notion is allowed to fester, staff shortages will only get worse.

If, on the other hand, preventative care is introduced, retail businesses could improve retention rates. Whether it’s health screenings or encouraging healthier eating, enabling employees to improve their wellbeing shows them that the organisation cares. Of course, healthier staff are also absent less often.

Those at the top can also lead by example, contributing to a trickle-down effect. Looking after their own wellbeing can be something as simple as leaving the office on time or participating in mental health awareness training.

Listen to people to create a tailored approach

It can be daunting when setting out to formulate a new company-wide strategy. Yet part of the answer is the employees themselves. They can provide key insight into what they want and what might work. An anonymous survey, for example, will supply ideas and direction for a wellbeing strategy.

Paying due consideration to objectives is also vital. For instance, if the main goal is to reduce absenteeism, the focus might be on wellbeing initiatives that encourage healthier lifestyles, as well as support for mental health.

Externally, executive coaching can enable leaders to become more receptive to what employees need – and support them with their planning/strategy skills. They will learn to pinpoint challenges facing employees, helping them to create more complete and more effective wellbeing plans, and benefitting people throughout the business. And once one effective wellbeing strategy has been implemented, it will become the benchmark for all future plans, raising standards for good.

See which retailers get wellbeing right

Sainsbury’s has an extremely well-developed wellbeing strategy, which focuses on mental, physical and financial wellbeing. With rampant cost of living rises, financial wellbeing will increasingly become part of wellbeing strategies.

In terms of mental health, meanwhile, more than 12,000 Sainsbury’s line managers have completed mental health awareness training. They also estimate that over 10,000 employees use the Unmind app, which the company has provided free access to.

Yet one of the most important aspects of Sainsbury’s strategy is that they run regular campaigns to remind staff of the tools and support they have available.

Another retailer taking wellbeing seriously is John Lewis, which introduced free healthcare for its people back in 1929. Their Partnership Health Services provide employees with everything from physiotherapy and podiatry to hearing tests and therapy sessions.

Meanwhile, over 8,000 John Lewis employees take part in the retailer’s clubs and societies, which enrich their lives outside of work.

Be aware of changing employee sentiment

Just as companies might use surveys or focus groups to establish their wellbeing strategies, the same techniques can also be used to review their success – and the level of wellbeing in the company.

As a minimum, integral changes to the working environment or organisational structure should herald a review of wellbeing programmes. While an influx of new employees might also change the dynamic and the balance of what people want from their benefits.

And since strategies will be closely linked to company-wide objectives, once those goals have been reached, the shape of the wellbeing strategy may have to change. For example, if staff absences are brought down to the desired level, leaders may then want to concentrate on how they can engage employees further.

Summary

As the retail industry continues to battle with staff shortages, now is the time to implement wellbeing strategies or review existing ones. Working patterns have changed dramatically since Covid-19 hit – and employees realise they now have more choice and power.

Employee expectations have shifted, forcing employers to shift in response. Those that don’t react will be left behind, losing out on the most talented individuals and, even worse, potentially becoming known for outdated attitudes to employee wellbeing.

Retail leaders must spearhead changes, prioritising employee wellbeing and presenting it as a solution – and not a distraction from – the ongoing staff shortages.

Nielsen: Only 26% of global marketers are confident in their audience data

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With consumer buying habits very much a focus following the enormous change that COVID-19 has left on their behaviour, Nielsen has for the very first time conducted a global survey that includes insights incorporating EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) marketers.

Respondents surveyed came from manager-level and above, overseeing marketing budgets of US$1 million upwards, working across a variety of industries, from the retail and ecommerce, auto, financial services, FMCG, technology, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, travel, tourism and retail industries.  

The research conducted by Opinium Research spanned the regions, asking marketer participants a range of questions from how they access marketing campaigns; reporting systems; measurement; data accuracy; and their overriding concerns regarding ROI (return on investment). 

The report both revealed a digital dominance in how dollars are being spent and exposed marketers’ lack of confidence in the data behind those decisions. With continued digital fragmentation, marketers report data accuracy, measurement, and ROI are paramount. While 69% of marketers believe first-party data is essential for their strategies and campaigns, and 72% of marketers believe they have access to quality data, only 26% of global marketers are fully confident in their audience data.

The Era of Alignment found marketers around the world are experiencing similar areas of success and challenges, as shown by:

  • Brand awareness is marketers’ top objective. To reach this goal, brands need to leverage an array of channels to reach the widest audience. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents stated that social media is the most effective paid channel with TikTok and Instagram dominating spend. Comparatively, TV and radio spend is significantly less with an aggregate increase of 53% across global marketers. Customer acquisition is their second objective, showing that marketers must focus efforts on the entire customer journey.
  • Increased media fragmentation amplifies the need for holistic measurement. Marketers’ confidence in measuring ROI of the full-funnel is only 54%. Remove online and mobile video and confidence in measuring ROI across all other channels is under 50% globally, and while nearly half of marketers plan to increase their spending on podcasts, their confidence in measuring the ROI of that investment is 44%.
  • It’s vital for marketers to use data to champion personalized marketing strategies. The increasing proliferation of channels produces an abundance of unique data sets. However, 36% of marketers still claim that data access, identity resolution, and deriving actionable insights from data is either extremely or very difficult. With the rise of connected TV (CTV) this presents new challenges to traditional targeting solutions. CTV is a growing focus for global marketers, with 51% planning to increase their over-the-top/CTV spending in the coming year. To wit, Americans streamed almost 15 million years’ worth of content across subscription- and ad-supported platforms.
  • By placing a greater emphasis on purpose-driven initiatives, marketers can better connect with consumers. Nielsen Research shows over half of U.S. consumers (52%) purchase from brands that support causes they care about; similarly, more than 36% expect the brands they buy to support social causes. While global marketers say their brands are emphasizing purpose, Nielsen data shows that 55% of consumers aren’t convinced that brands are fostering true progress.

“Our work at Nielsen is to provide the most complete view of consumer behavior regardless of industry, and our longtime experience in measurement and comprehensive view of the media universe gives brands a 360-degree view that can’t be found anywhere else,” said Jamie Moldafsky, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Nielsen. “This research showcased that marketers want to put money into channels to deliver immediate ROI, however we also see that they must be agile in the year ahead and work across the entire marketing funnel to reinforce brand awareness and acquire more customers. With the upcoming elimination of third-party cookies, it’s understandable to see marketers prioritizing personalization and aligning their brand with causes their customers care about. Through our solutions – and this report – we’re continuing to help brands and marketers get actionable insights to make more informed, and quicker decisions.”

This is the fifth Annual Marketing Report produced by Nielsen. The report is fueled by survey responses of marketers manager-level and above, who manage marketing budgets north of $1 million, who work across a variety of industries (auto, financial services, FMCG, technology, health care, pharmaceuticals, travel, tourism, and retail), and whose focus pertains to media, technology, and measurement strategies.

Top UK retailers’ customer service quality ranked

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A new report has reviewed the customer service offering of major high street and online brands to determine who is providing the best service on the market.

The mystery shopping data, conducted by FM Outsource, has been condensed into a report to highlight how customer service is being done effectively in the modern landscape, and where there is still room for improvement.

Key findings include:-

  • Pretty Little Thing, Primark, and Waitrose all highlighted as underperforming in customer service channel availability, response times and contact resolution.
  • The average telephone response time for supermarket brands was5 minutes, over 1.5 minutes longer than the accepted industry standard average.
  • 100% of e-tailer websites had webchat availability, compared to under 30% for supermarkets.
  • Less than 12% of retail brands offer SMS or Whatsapp as a customer communication tool.
  • Less than half of the brands analysed had a first contact resolution (FCR) rate of over 50%, meaning queries were left unresolved.

The first element of customer service that FM Outsource’s research deck covers is the channel mix that businesses offer. They cite that most brands are beginning to see the benefits of diversifying their customer service channels. However, there is still a bias towards certain channels, depending on the category a company falls under.

E-tailers, for example, outshine the competition in digital customer service channel adoption. Of those FM Outsource examined, 100% use webchat and also have customer service coverage on social media platforms. When it comes to telephone and email capabilities traditional brick and mortar retailers lead the way, with 60% offering both of these channels.

Of all the brands FM Outsource researched, only two are currently offering SMS or WhatsApp as a customer service channel: Tescoand Pretty Little Thing. This means there is a huge opportunity for brands wanting to go the extra mile with their customer service. FM Outsource explains that adding this additional channel to a brand’s customer service offering could be the key to standing out from the competition and winning over more customers.

FM Outsource’s Mystery Shopper research deck also covers response rates and times. On average they found that all three categories delivered similar response times of 11 minutes (supermarkets), 11.5 minutes (brick and mortar) and 12 minutes (e-tailers).

However, some brands stood out in particular. Currys performed extremely well across all their available customer service channels with an average response time of less than four minutes. On the other end of the spectrum, IKEA didn’t respond at all on three out of their four customer service channels, despite multiple attempts by mystery shoppers to reach them.

Almost across the board, brands performed poorly in social media response times. An overwhelming 76% of responses were either sent over an hour later or not at all.

Finally FM Outsource evaluated whether brands were successful in resolving customer queries in their first attempt. They found that only six out of the 17 brands they investigated had a first contact resolution (FCR) rate of more than 50%.

And when comparing the three categories as a whole there were no major differences; e-tailers took a minor lead with an average FCR rate of nearly 49%, closely followed by supermarkets at 45% and brick and mortar retailers at 38%. That being said, e-tailer, Missguided, was the one exceptional performer with a notable FCR rate of 83%.

Martin Brown, General Manager at FM Outsource, said: “We earmark being able to resolve a customer’s query when they first get in contact as a gamechanger – the less friction and frustration shoppers have to experience when dealing with customer service, the more likely they are to remain loyal to that brand. We hope our findings can give businesses some direction on where to focus their customer service efforts and avoid the pitfalls that even major e-tailers, brick and mortar retailers and major supermarkets have fallen victim to.”

Delve into the entire data here: https://fmoutsource.com/landing-mystery-shopper/

How retailers can improve their interviewing process to avoid losing top talent

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For workers across a wide range of industries, the Covid-19 pandemic presented a huge challenge, but also an opportunity to sit back and reassess their life and career. Having considered their work-life balance, priorities and future goals, many made the decision to quit their current job, or to leave the workforce entirely. 

This phenomenon, known as the ‘Great Resignation’ or ‘Great Retirement’, is severely affecting employers looking to recruit board-level and c-suite retail executives. The departure of skilled workers is squeezing the labour market and making it harder for retail leaders to recruit and retain talented and experienced staff. Previously, a retailer could simply contact a head-hunter and fill the position in a few weeks. They now need to look further afield and be more creative. This means developing imaginative long-term plans for attracting and retaining high-calibre talent.

Tony Gregg, Chief Executive at Anthony Gregg Partnership, a leading retail executive search firm, shares his thoughts on how employers in the retail sector can adapt their recruitment strategies to reach the most talented candidates in this difficult environment…

What’s the current hiring process for c-suite roles in retail?

It’s clear that across the global economy, labour shortages are presenting a significant challenge for businesses. This is particularly true in sectors that were most affected by the pandemic and therefore need to make the most significant recovery. The retail sector is one of the industries hardest hit, and the result has been employers struggling to find candidates within limited timeframes.

Employers are being advised to change their hiring processes to stay on the front foot. Currently, many experienced employees are being lost to the Great Resignation and Great Retirement and workers are demanding more flexible working practices. Employees haven’t progressed as expected because they’ve missed out on in-person development opportunities. The result of all this is a labour market that’s tighter and more challenging than ever.

Reactive approaches increase time pressure on hiring, and it can be hard for retailers to quickly find workers with the right skills, particularly in digital and e-commerce. The dominance of e-commerce is here to stay — that’s the trend highlighted by successive lockdowns and the closure of high street giant Debenhams — and this has changed recruitment needs in the retail sector. Now, retailers want candidates for board-level and c-suite positions who have digital and e-commerce skillsets, along with an understanding of social media and younger Gen-Z audiences. The desirability of these skills and the recruitment challenges facing the sector mean proactive hiring practices are essential.

How must retailers adapt their hiring models to find top c-suite talent?

Retail sector employers can identify individuals who will thrive in their company using psychometric testing. This testing highlights candidates who, for example, have leadership potential or are closely aligned to your business’s ethos. Psychometric tests streamline the hiring process, providing an extra measure that employers can use to determine which candidates are strongest.

It’s crucial that you also carve out space in your schedule for thorough interviews. Having face-to-face conversations with potential new recruits is essential, not just because it helps you decide if they’re the right fit, but also because it shows your deeper personal engagement and helps them to become more invested in the opportunity. When you take time to really understand a candidate and answer all of their questions, they see your care and enthusiasm, and this positive impression can give you an edge over competitors with whom they’re also speaking to.

It’s important to establish what you want to find out about a candidate before meeting or interviewing them and to consider how you can best achieve this. Sometimes, traditional interview formats might not be the most effective. Sitting down for a more informal chat over a coffee can be a great way to spot the most promising talent. This can speed up the hiring process by providing a clearer insight into what a candidate would be like to work with.

Why is it important that retailers adapt their current hiring models?

One major impact of the pandemic has been a distinct shift in employees’ expectations and needs. Most people working in board-level and c-suite roles in the retail sector have spent extended periods of time working from home, and this has brought many of them benefits, such as the ability to pick up their children from school. The changes have altered people’s feelings about their work-life balance.

In the past, when labour markets were squeezed, offering higher salaries could tempt the best candidates away from your competitors. Now, employees are demanding more than just financial incentives. Many top-quality candidates have noticed that remote working enables them to live further outside of city centres in attractive rural areas and to dedicate time previously spent commuting to family, all while maintaining their career progression. To attract these candidates, retailers looking to recruit new CFOs, CIOs and other board and director-level executives must show that they can offer opportunities for hybrid and remote working.

It’s not just working from home arrangements that employees increasingly want to see from their employers. Many workers, especially from younger generations, are keen to join companies that show a social conscience, and this is undoubtedly motivating firms to change their policies. For example, many major retail sector employers – such as H&M and Apple – pulled their Russian operations in a show of solidarity following the country’s recent invasion of Ukraine. Another key priority for candidates is opportunities for progression. Employers who present a clear professional development pathway are more likely to attract top talent.

How can retailers reach the right candidates?

It’s a great time to reimagine how you reach out to candidates.

Board and director-level retail executives in the post-pandemic era need to be flexible and open-minded. They must be able to manage their teams, along with their own work, in a hybrid or remote work environment. This will require a flexible style of leadership, which enables them to communicate just as effectively online as in person. Determining whether a candidate is the right kind of leader for this new era will be crucial.

As new working practices become consolidated, retailers cannot stick to previous hiring strategies when looking for c-suite and board-level candidates. Showing your commitment to responsible business practices and setting clear sustainability targets may be central to winning over the new generation of emerging retail leaders.

But whichever strategy you adopt, planning for the future is a must. Retailers who think ahead when developing their recruitment plans are those most likely to succeed in the post-Covid world.

50% of shoppers won’t use ‘greenwashing’ retailers

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

As consumer demand for environmentally friendly and green products grows, retailers could be risking lost long-term loyalty if their sustainability efforts aren’t genuine, research from Retail Technology Show has warned.

Original research of over 2,000 UK shoppers in Retail Technology Show’s latest ‘Retail Revolution’ report showed that almost half (47%) already actively buy more from brands they perceive to be sustainable, rising to 65% of Gen Z demographics.

And demand for ‘green’ retailing among shoppers is growing; six in ten (60%) of those polled said retailers’ commitment to sustainability would become more of an important factor in their buying decisions over the next five years, rising to 67% of 18-25 year olds.  Meanwhile, a further 65% of 18-24 year-olds say they would shop more with brands who are sustainable in the future, and another 63% would be more loyal to those retailers with green values.

However, despite the growing appetite for green retail – with the green pound estimated to reached over £122bn – two thirds (62%) of consumers in another poll by Retail Insight were untrusting of retailers’ and brands’ eco pledges, believing they merely pay lip-service to sustainability initiatives.  This growing concern around ‘greenwashing’ prompted the CMA’s recent crackdown on brands, who will face fines if they don’t deliver on the environmental claims they market against.

And this consumer distrust on the sincerity of retailers’ sustainable commitments doesn’t just risk possible fines and reputational damage, according to Retail Technology Show’s research, it risks future sales and lost loyalty too.  Half (50%) of UK consumers in its poll said they would stop shopping altogether with brands they perceive to be greenwashing, rising to almost two thirds (63%) of Gen Z audiences and 59% of Millennials.

“Put simply, greenwashing just won’t wash with shoppers”, said Matt Bradley, Event Director for the Retail Technology Show.  “Consumers now expect retailers’ sustainability efforts to be deeply and genuinely rooted in the brands’ psyche, rather than it being any short-termist play.  And that means retail businesses need to carefully consider both how they can evolve their businesses operationally to be greener, and also how this is effectively communicated to shoppers in a genuine, transparent and engaging manner.”

Using less packaging was the top way UK consumers felt retailers could make their operations greener (78%), while a further 71% identified the supply chain as a focus for improvements, followed by 69% who said making bricks-and-mortar stores more eco would help retailers improve sustainability.  Almost half (48%) wanted retailers to pay an online delivery ‘green tax’ so the environmental impact of their ecommerce fulfilment operations could be offset, rising to 61% of 18-24 year-olds.

To find out more about the top trends impacting retail in 2022 and beyond, download the full Retail Revolution report for free: https://bit.ly/RTS_Retail_Revolution_Report