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Three Things Forward-Looking Retailers Have in the Works for 2018

It’s no question that consumers play a crucial role in the fate of retailers, and those looking to survive are doing more to cater to that consumer.

At Drapers’ recent multichannel breakfast in London, key industry leaders came together to discuss their business initiatives for the coming year, including ramping up personalization, establishing a seamless experience across multiple channels and providing more convenient purchasing journeys. From Net-a-Porter to SecretSales, here’s what top retailers are doing to place consumers first.

Personalization on mobile platforms

While technology continues to gain momentum in the retail space, mobile has become a key driver for engaging consumers. Consumers today are always on the go and smartphones enable retailers to cater to their styling needs and preferences with a few clicks.

Some e-tailers, including SecretSales, find mobile highly beneficial for consumer activity. SecretSales co-founder Sach Kukadia said mobile accounts for 81 percent of the flash sale platform’s traffic and 65 percent of its sales.

“Everything we do is focused on mobile first,” Kukadia said. “We try to catch consumers on the move. We don’t think about PC or laptop anymore.”

Net-a-Porter is also tapping into consumers’ fashion preferences with its mobile app. The luxury site’s app provides a shoppable platform for consumers, where they can access more than 350 designers, scan and shop favorite looks from Net-a-Porter’s magazine and save curated lists of accessories, apparel and footwear items. What’s more, consumers can pay for luxury products instantly, without having to log into a laptop.

“The experience is getting better, images are getting bigger and the editorial is easy to read. All their payment information is stored,” Yoox Net-a-Porter Group e-commerce director Negin Yeganegy said. “That seamless experience has contributed to them feeling more comfortable paying.”

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Using technology for a seamless omnichannel experience 

Mobile may be a top priority on some retailers’ agendas, but establishing a single-customer view across multiple channels, including brick-and-mortar and online, is also another project for major high-street companies. London-based apparel label Hawes & Curtis is using technology to guide its consumer-centric objectives for next year.

“Right now there is a lot of manual work,” Hawes & Curtis head of marketing and communications Anastasia Roumelioti said. “We’re taking the data from online and stores, and putting it in Excel, and we create marketing models there.”

In-store technology could also close the gap between online and offline channels for consumers. Beacons, for example, track consumer activity throughout the store, while a retailers’ app could provide insight on which products consumers prefer on their shopping trips and provided tailored promotions on their trip.

“When you have an online business, you can see every single thing that customers do, but the moment they go into a store, they’re invisible,” HSO sales director Hector Hickmott said. “The technology is available to give you the same data points and learn the same things.”

Offering convenient services 

In addition to personalization and a seamless omnichannel experience, convenience could be a potential boon for retailers that want to deliver on consumers’ preferences. For consumers, the quicker they can try-on and buy, the more likely they are to keep coming back for more. Add technology to the mix, and retailers can provide consumers with what they want instantly, without the hiccups.

“Amazon can deliver me groceries, technology, PS4 games all within two hours. Because of that convenience I’m using it a lot,” Kukadia said. “This is the general direction online is going. It’s not about price–it’s about convenience.”