UK Retail is the most vibrant, dynamic, exciting, competitive retail environment globally; in this blog, Zensar Retail Business Head, Andrew Busby, examines what are the trends & driving forces behind this and what this means for the industry.
UK Retail leads the world. That might seem a bold statement on the surface but look just a little closer to realise why this holds true. The combination of many factors and influences all coming together in a heady cornucopia of consumerism has given rise to something I refer to as Absolute Retail. Consider for a moment the iconic shopping malls, High Streets and stores which are found across the UK and you begin to understand the significance of UK Retail.
In 2011 the number of smartphone users in the UK was 21.6m, by 2015 this figure has nearly doubled and by 2017 is likely to hit nearly 44m(1). In 2013 the UK population surpassed 64m for the first time of which the 15-64 age bracket accounted for 42m(2). Compare this to the US market whose total population is 321m of which the 15-64 age bracket account for 66%(3) and the number of smartphone users 184m(4).
From a UK perspective this is significant for retailers when we consider that 73% of UK consumers predict that they will spend more on mobile this year and that 15% now use mobile as their primary shopping device(5). But smartphone penetration is only a part of the picture of why UK Retail is such a dynamic fast paced and rapidly changing environment. Omnichannel / multichannel, whichever we prefer to refer to it, the lines between the online and offline world are converging at a rapid rate to the extent that the terms are becoming redundant. It is one shopping experience except that the journey may begin and end in different places, on different media according to the consumer preference at any given time. Either way, the UK is highly advanced when compared to the US market in its use of online and mobile with nearly double the number of UK consumers buying groceries via mobile than in the US.
Geography has a large influence in this picture, resulting in significant growth in click & collect; OC&C forecasts that in 2015, growth in the volume of units ordered online but collected in store will overtake that for home delivery for the first time, increasing by 53m parcels, year on year, compared with a rise of 38m parcels for home delivery. This trend is also giving rise to innovation in the supply chain, especially fulfillment; for example, Asda aims to have 1,000 remote click and collect locations by 2018, which would include drive-throughs or lockers(6).
Personalised, relevant shopping with ease is now the key to retail success and embracing the use of mobile at every step of the journey. This has led to increasing levels of innovation, removing obstacles and barriers in the shopping journey all aimed at making the shopping experience more enjoyable and pleasurable designed to entice the customer to keep coming back again and again.
And in this way, the UK leads through innovation, whether it be mobile, in store experience or personalisation. This is set to continue as expectations demand ever more relevancy in all interactions with retail brands. And Zensar is at the heart of this working with leading UK retailers to engage their customer engagement and customer experience. By working with those leading retailers Zensar has developed an intimate understanding of what UK retailers need in a partner; and not only that but the pace of change and dynamic nature of the industry means that partners need to be both agile and flexible in their relationships with retailers. Ready and able to deliver innovative solutions wherever and whenever they are required.
2. Office for National Statistics
3. United States Census Bureau
5. Centre for Retail Research
Andrew Busby is Retail Business Head at Zensar Technologies