They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, well 12 weeks of lockdown has seen people of all ages and types move online and this is unlikely to reverse back to pre-covid levels. For anyone who held previous reservations about shopping online, this has been almost eradicated in the space of 3 months – our shopping patterns have been forever changed. 

Inditex, the parent company of Zara and one of the most successful retailers in the world is responding fast, announcing it will close up to 1,200 stores worldwide (16% of its stores) and spending $1 billion accelerating their digital transformation. In a statement their CEO Pablo said; 

"The overriding goal between now and 2022 is to speed up full implementation of our integrated store concept, driven by the notion of being able to offer our customers uninterrupted service no matter where they find themselves, on any device and at any time of the day," 

Almost every brand will need to follow suit, but the smart ones will look to establish a holistic view of their business first. Simply closing stores based on store turnover or profitability does not factor in the impact an individual store can have on a businesses overall ability to deliver a superior experience for their customer. Operationally, retailers need to remove silo’s, establishing a single view of their customer, inventory, payments and content will set the foundations for achieving a unified customer experience and business. 

Setting out on this journey can seem daunting, especially in this environment, but there are some great retailers already setting the example and incredible innovative solutions helping them to achieve it. Here are four areas leading retailers in the Validify community are focused on;

1.  Going the extra mile during the pandemic

Consumer tolerance is high right now and everyone is being very accommodating, but this is already fading quickly. Shoppers will remember brands that made an effort to mitigate the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. Validify community retailers are using innovation to reduce unnecessary visits through better online information and communication, and reducing queuing through appointment setting.

Furniture Village recognised this immediately and rolled out appointment solution Appointedd across their estate in a couple of weeks, and as the Commercial Director Charlie Harrison explains, the results were staggering; 

“Appointments are converting to sales at between 50 and 80%... I think the headline for us was Bank Holiday weekend. Across three days we took 1,046 appointments, from not having a booking system in place two weeks before. We were just blown away with it.”

2.   Getting personal - Hyper Local 

Effective communications with customers has never been more important, not in terms of promotions, but building a personal connection with your customers.  With fewer shoppers physically allowed in stores at any one time, combined with customers booking specific time slots, it raises an opportunity to create greater levels of engagement between store staff and customers. Utilising clienteling tools can help customers understand more about products, locate stock within the store network and develop a more personalised conversation between a retailer’s staff and their customers. The VP of Operations at Kennedy Luxury Group explains the impact solution clienteling solutions can have on a business; 

Proximity Insight has revolutionised the way Kennedy engages with our clients. Sales Associates have real-time access to customer data, our team has been able to enhance our client’s in-store experience and it allows us to create a truly personalised service when interacting with our clients online.

Empowering store staff to handle local customer queries and communications transforms a brands relationship with their customers as well as reducing your businesses overall operational cost.

3.  Connecting online and stores 

Every retailer should recognise by now that online and brick and mortar stores are inextricably linked, and customers that engage your brand through both channels will deliver a significantly higher lifetime value. 

Connecting your online and in-store experience gives customers more ways to shop and ultimately increases the likelihood of converting. Solutions such as Comestri and Fluent Commerce enable customers to shop online and get orders fulfilled immediately through their nearest store. Local fulfilment gives customers more options, such as same day shipping and click & collect. 

Retailers such as Signet Jewellery and Sofology are taking it one step further, using solutions such as Go Instore to bring the store into their customers' homes.  Signet Jewellery’s Digital Director Matthew Gratze wanted to make sure customers were able to connect with their sales colleagues for the inspiration and advice that would usually be received in a face-to-face conversation inside a shop. Using the latest video technology they launched a new selling channel that connects customers to their sales colleagues remotely, and as Matthew explains, the benefits were immediate. 

“We can now utilise video technology to have that face-to-face discussion, or even showcase our products. This has been a big hit with our customers, and also sales colleagues, as they can have those crucial conversations to help move the customer journey along.”

4.  Setting the foundations for a unified business future

The best retailers in the world like Inditex are setting the foundations for a unified business future. Step one is establishing a holistic view of your business and rightsizing operations to get the right mix of stores and online in order to maximise your reach and efficiency as a business. Easier said than done, with so many data points to consider, but solutions such as Storecast are specifically designed to help retailers to analyse the impact of the different variables before you put the plan into practice. 

Removing silo’s in your data is an absolute must, giving you maximum agility and ultimately helping to future proof your business. There is no shortage of incredibly powerful and quick to deploy solutions that can help aggregate your data from existing legacy systems and give you a single view of your customers, inventory, payment and content.


At Validify we provide the tools that enable leading retailers to find the right solutions for their business. In our latest report in partnership with the British Retail Consortium, we share many more insights from leading retailers and solution providers to help you reopen stores safely and successfully. 

Download the report.

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