The start of the year is always a good moment to reflect on what the months ahead – indeed decade ahead – might bring for our industry.
It’s an exercise i’ve done many times and yet, this year, setting out predictions felt a little challenging. This is, at least in part, due to the instability we saw in 2019 – not only politically, but for the retail industry and in particular the highstreet.
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom, of course. 2019 also saw digital technology continue to evolve, bringing with it more and more exciting and innovative ways through which to transform the sector and engage with customers.
Punching above your weight in 2020
For ambitious players in the sector, this ever-changing dynamic brings with it plentiful opportunity to diversify, experiment with innovative new technologies and explore omnichannel sales and marketing techniques. But nonetheless, these are hugely competitive times; keeping pace with the market has never been such a challenge.
So how do retailers ensure they not just survive, but thrive in 2020? And, in particular, how do smaller players punch above their weight in order to get cut-through in an increasingly crowded market?
There are lots of strategies to consider, of course, and no one-size-fits-all solution. But one approach which more and more retailers are looking towards is partnerships.
Teaming-up with the right partner can help boost exposure, deliver increased customer value, and open new revenue streams. Marks & Spencer’s new partnership with Ocado, for instance, has given the store access to Ocado’s significant online customer base and a foothold into an immediately scalable online delivery service.
A partnership might also include a retailer partnering with a technology start-up in order to deliver greater breadth of offering and increased innovation at point-of-sale. I have a vested interest here: I work at Flux, where we partner with retailers including KFC, Just Eat and itsu to deliver digital receipts straight into customers’ banking apps and transform banks into acquisition and re-engagement channels
More broadly, in addition to our own work, there’s a growing shift in the retail sector towards these types of cross-sector partnerships. More ‘traditional’ retailers are increasingly partnering with small, agile companies in order to deliver new and innovative services to their customers. This includes everything from smarter marketing tools such as loyalty schemes and remarketing, to slick payment technologies.
In short, when done right, a smart, strategic partnership could be the difference between failure and success for your retail business in 2020.
Set the foundations for a long-lasting working relationship by showing that you mean business. Demonstrate that you are capable, trustworthy and that you clearly understand what you want to get out of any potential partnership. Get it right, and it might be the thing that helps you stand out from the crowd next year.
Pedro Carvalho – Head of Retail at digital receipts provider Flux