I was lucky enough to be asked to chair a session at Esomar’s Shopping Experience Seminar this month, having been part of the advisory panel which developed the event. Also on the panel were the likes of Unilever and Carrefour, so with such big businesses involved, and with the retail sector in such turmoil we were bound to have a challenging and thought provoking day.
The key headlines from the day covered such issues as:
• The search for growth – a big challenge for retailers and brands alike
• The increasing complexity of choice
• The increasing pace of change, requiring more agile businesses
• The shift from mass marketing to personalization
• The need to connect with shoppers at the moment of truth – wherever that might now be
All big issues in their own right but the search for growth is one of the most fundamental. Without sales a business is nothing, and without growth a business is going nowhere, and the evidence all around us is showing how hard growth is to come by these days.
Yet growth is out there. It is evident in every shop and on every retail website. Every time a shopper fails to put a product in their basket, or fails to click through to the checkout online, a growth opportunity is missed. We know from the basic metrics of conversion data that 100% conversion is not a given – which means that every single category has at least a modicum of growth they can achieve if they understand why a shopper has not turned into a buyer.
Accessing this growth takes analysis and action. The reasons behind ‘lost sales’ need to be identified, understood, and a solution found. Attempting to do that in isolation is going to be difficult, which is where Joint Business Planning comes in. The cynics among us might see this as a re-branding of category management, but potentially it’s better. It encourages retailers and brands to work together from the start in the search for the consumer/shopper drivers that will unlock growth. In comparison, category management tended to be a brand led process that was ultimately presented to retailers almost as a done deal. Successful JBP is going to be about collaboration from the off, and the really smart proponents of this approach will be looking to include the consumer/shopper perspective in the mix from the start as well.
When times are tough, it takes great thinking to find the solutions. Times are certainly tough at the moment, so why not pool your great thinking with that of your customers or your suppliers to achieve a win win solution?
And never forget that consumers/shoppers are crucial to unlocking growth.
By Danielle Pinnington @Shoppercentric