‘Give customers something they don’t get online’

Design expert Tony Robson has claimed the increase in online shopping means businesses need to invest in omni-channel commerce.

Speaking at the Retail and Design Conference, run by ERT’s sister magazine kbbreview at the recent kbb Birmingham show, Mr Robson, director of design consultancy Materialize, (pictured on stage) said: “No longer can you just look at having a retail showroom to get your product over. We all know about having a great website, but it’s about having a consistent shopping and branding message.”

However, he argued that retailers also need to be different and give customers an experience to get them into their showrooms.

“People can now make purchases on their lap when they’re watching The One Show. Retailers have to work harder to bring people through the door. So you have to give people an experience that they don’t get online when they come through the door. You really have to do something different,” he said.

Mr Robson also discussed how millennials (aged 25-34) and the ‘shocial’ trend, the combination of shopping and social media, are reshaping the industry – “millennials have certain expectations that inform and influence the marketplace. They are very vocal about everything through the internet”.

He added: “It is no longer down to big corporations to tell us what makes their products better and different, it’s normal people. Ordinary people are now more influential and that trend is really set to continue.”

But, he stated that this brings with it a new set of problems. “Of the millennials, 35 per cent of social media users share a purchase via social networks and 49 per cent of those were to friends. The important thing about this is, and what we need to acknowledge, is if it’s something they’re not happy about, they are sharing that as well.”

To improve the customer experience, Mr Robson said, “companies need to make it personal” and about “having a relationship with a product”.

Mr Robson also argued that businesses shouldn’t ignore the older market. “The grey market – those aged 50 plus – are still trendy and they know what they want. They also make up over 76 per cent of the nation’s wealth.”