IMRG Connect – it’s all about the customer

Some of the UK’s leading fashion retailers joined industry association IMRG and their members for IMRG Connect this week – here Clear Returns deliver their round up of the event.

One key focus throughout the day emerged – the customerHow should customers be measured – in terms of margin or overall value?

There was debate over how customers should be measured – should it be in terms of margin or overall value? WhileQubit discussed customer lifetime value – however this was based only on customer’s purchase history. Astley Clarkethen discussed the work they have undertaken to personalize the online experience for their customers, including personalised product recommendations based on purchase behaviour – which now account for 6% of their online sales.

The day closed with some retailer case studies from ASOS and Moss Bros, where again the customer was the key priority in terms of providing multiple options and tailoring communication. Moss Bros’ Ecommerce Director Neil Sansom told the audience how close they were to achieving a single customer view, thanks to joined up systems delivering real-time information to a their new CRM. Very soon, a customer will be able to walk into their store and the staff will be armed with their full profile and purchase history.
For a true picture of customer value retailers must take returns into account

Clear Returns propose that for a true picture of customer value retailers must take returns into account. A sale is not a sale until a customer decides they are going to keep an item. Therefore by basing recommendations and marketing on purchase history only, you could be missing the full picture.

Certain customer segments, while purchasing full price items regularly, actually return between 80-90% of what they buy. Therefore while they may appear to be your most important customers, in reality they are the least profitable – taking advantage of free shipping offers and promotional codes and costing you more money in the long run. By utilizing this kind of information within your CRM system, you can tailor your marketing much more effectively and profitably.

The new Quarterly Fashion Returns Review in partnership with IMRG was launched

Clear Returns also launched their new Quarterly Fashion Returns Review in partnership with IMRG at the event. This report is designed to give retailers the ability to regularly track a range of key benchmark metrics to help you monitor, assess and address the issues surrounding returns and their effect on profits and logistics. If you would like to receive an exclusive preview of the report then get in touch, and all IMRG members will receive full access.

The rise and rise of mobile

This week saw a host of retailers publish their latest results and a staggering number recorded exceptional online and mobile growth.

Argos saw mobile sales growth of 114%, House of Fraser’s online sales rose by 62%, and The Hut Group experienced a sales sarge of 30% over the past year.

20% of UK e-retail sales now come from mobile devices

Internet Retailing this week discussed just how crucial paying attention to mobile sales growth is for retailers. IMRGrecently reported that retail sales from mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, now make up 20% of all UK e-retail sales and is continuing to record triple digit growth- a statistic that is ignored at retailer’s peril! In the last year alone from June 2012 to May 2013 mobile retail sales grew 249%.

Online retailers are growing 18% year-on-year compared with 15% growth for high street retailers
IMRG also reported that their eSales Index grew 16% year-on-year in May with online and catalogue retailers recording year-on-year growth of 18%, compared with 15% growth for multi-channel high street retailers.

All of these figures point to the clear conclusion that mobile and online strategies require a great deal of retailer’s attention – not only in order to increase revenues but also to ensure customers needs are being met in the way that they wish, both now and in future.

3 key areas to improve customer satisfaction online

What must retailers do to ensure customer satisfaction online in 2013? The latest report from eDigital Research and IMRG published this week delivers these key insights.

Their latest report delivers the results from quarterly surveys of over 2000 customers which asked them to score their satisfaction with several elements of their online purchase journeys. These areas included delivery, navigation, security, product range, information and pricing we well as customer service contact. The results are clear that since the index began in 2008 satisfaction has steadily increased, currently at some of the highest levels it has ever been.

Consistently product range is the highest rated area, not unusual as ecommerce retailers face no boundaries as to how many products they can display. However product information and pricing are struggling to reach satisfaction rates above 80%. This would suggest that retailers should put greater focus on developing good product content and using tools such as catwalk videos, zoom functions and customer reviews would further enhance their ecommerce operations as well as customer satisfaction.

40% of customer wanted improvements in customer service contact

Areas where customers currently demand greater improvements include customer service contact. 40% of customers wanted improvements to customer contact, with 17% feeling quicker responses to queries would help. Many retailers, particularly in the fashion industry, have begun to direct customer services through social media channels such as Twitter or Facebook. Yet this study finds that customers often report unresponsive or unreliable service from these channels, meaning retailers must learn to deal with requests quickly and efficiently to satisfy customer’s demands for information faster than ever before.

23% of customers felt that better delivery services would improve their online experience
23% of customers felt that a better delivery service would also improve their online experience. Retailers that supply furniture or DIY tools online often have the lowest ratings for delivery satisfaction simply due to the nature of their products – meaning they need to do even more to reassure customers in terms of delivery types, times as well as in their product information as stated earlier.

The report concludes with the statement that no part of customers online experience recorded scores of over 90%, so there is still room to improve their offering. As the online and mobile channels continue to grow throughout 2013, retailers cannot afford to miss the key results of reports like these, or they risk losing customers to more receptive competitors.

IMRG Connect – key highlights of the day

The latest IMRG Connect event was held in London on May 2nd with a great line up of speakers and engaging content and here we summarise the key take-away points of the day.

One particularly interesting keynote presentation was delivered by Sean McKee, Head of Ecommerce and Customer Services at Schuh. Sean discussed Schuh’s approach of focusing on full price sales and limiting promotions as well as their single view of stock across their stores, which allows them to offer customers an attractive reserve and collect offer within 20 minutes.

Schuh have a single view of stock levels across their retail network

CEO of Clear Returns Vicky Brock kicked off the afternoon session with great insight into how you can transform returns to your advantage. By truly understanding your customer behaviour in terms of both sales and returns, this allows retailers to effectively segment and target much more appropriately. For instance not offering discounts and incentivising those who like to wear and return – Vicky pointed out that this group have cost one retailer £660,000 in a 5 month period.

Neil Ashworth, the new CEO of Collect+ also took to the stage in the afternoon to discuss exciting results from their latest survey, which proved the increasingly popularity of a click and collect scheme and the increasing inconvenience of collect in-store felt among customers. This led to some interesting forecasts for the future of retail delivery methods.

“Wear and return cost one retailer £660,000 within 5 months”

Towards the end of the day at IMRG Connect Shiran Liyanage, Head of Marketing at Metapack looked to the future of the industry. Metapack estimate that by 2017 there will be a 63% increase in UK deliveries, although up to 30% of volumes will be for international customers. The impact of cross-border growth was a key theme of the day, and many retailers showed great interest in hearing how they can develop a successful strategy in the international marketplace.