Here, at Black Pepper, we are not just about solving complex technical problems. Sure, we love doing that, but we’re also keen on making sure that the technical solution we deliver fits the business challenge our clients have. That’s why we take the time to understand the sectors our clients are at the forefront of and all the challenges they may face. Our brilliant Retail Account Director, Bright Masih, had a few thoughts on one of the most challenging (but crucial) target audience segments where retailers are concerned:
On the 3rd November 2015, Seattle University Village opened the doors to a hip new book shop stocking 5,000 to 6,000 titles. Emblazoned on the red brick facade were the words ‘Amazon Books’. Amazon is not alone in throwing a dice onto the roulette wheel of bricks and online retailing, or as I call it Clicks'n'Bricks. N Brown Group, who own the Simply Be and Jacamo brands, have successfully made the shift now with a flagship Oxford Street store as testament to its confidence in this parallel approach. It’s a strategy underpinned securely with a network of strategically placed stores dotted across the UK. Even mighty Google has made the journey with its shop buried deep inside Currys PC World at Tottenham Court Road, a slightly less courageous statement of intent. The baubled nightmare of the high street disappearing in favour of purely online sterile shopping stage has proved to be a reality which at least for now is not going to exist (thank God).
They key question, of course, is why are they bothering? I believe part of the answer is that consumers have made it clear that there is a resounding appetite and need for both.
Arguably some of the key factors in all of this is the convenience around Click & Collect; another, the joyful immersion of shopping in person, not to mention the palpability of handling goods in a beautifully designed store; the financial exultation when unearthing the best possible price online also has a part to play. Consumers are demanding the perfect hand that gives them all of these aces and they are expecting retailers to 'get it'.
Many of benefits they are looking for do not exist purely online or uniquely offline, so the connubiality of online and offline entwined like a tightly coiled wire around an iron core creates the magnetic pull that retailers want and customer now expect - the magic formula.
We are going to see more online retailers following Apple, Google, Amazon & N Brown Group because real life mandates real life convenience, which is great news for us as consumers, but a potential integration cluster nightmare for retailers. At the end of it all, the customer is unreservedly King and that isn't going to change any time soon.