Opinion: New retail growth requires an old-school ethos

Suzy Ross

One hundred years ago – prior to the industrialisation of retail – every retailer was by definition what I call a ‘customer-keeper’.

They knew each one of their customers well, and their best customers especially well. They understood their preferences and treated each accordingly. And the information enabling that? All held in the shopkeeper’s head.

Of course, that’s relatively easy with a single store. Move into multiple purchase pathways (stores, online, Instagram, among many), and many thousands or even millions of customers, and it’s a different ball game. But retailers’ need to know their customers as well as possible is just as relevant today.

Retailers must look to harness the vast amount of rich customer data to hand, deploy AI and digital technologies to begin to take action at an individual customer level.

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