Five senior retail leaders – from Kingfisher, Hotel Chocolat, QVC, Waterstones and Seasalt – have revealed how the pandemic-fuelled rise in online shopping has sped up their digital strategies.
Kingfisher, Hotel Chocolat, QVC, Waterstones and Seasalt gave in-depth interviews as part of CX Decoded: how the UK’s top multichannel retailers are investing to win consumer spend, a report produced in association with Arvato.
The retail leaders agreed the coronavirus pandemic has sped up the trend for greater numbers of consumers shopping online and, while their investment plans and roadmaps have remained unchanged, timelines have been brought forward.
With experts warning the rollout of a potential vaccine could take up to a year once it is ready, life is unlikely to return to normal any time soon. When it does, retailers will be faced with a consumer base that has become used to digital interactions.
Virtual service will become key
As such, the virtual customer service increasingly seen across the sector is likely to continue. Similarly, as expectations change, this could be the same for customer service contact centres.
This will mean greater training for staff to be able to deliver the experience required and investment in the right technology to make it possible.
“While machine learning, AI and chatbots serve a purpose, there is a point in a journey where human-to-human contact is the best way to find resolution”
James Keegan, QVC
According to QVC vice-president of customer service and experience James Keegan: “The contact centre five years ahead will be very different. We should be far more proactive in reaching out at appropriate times. [The way to affect that] will be a contact centre that is very much around complexity and problem solving. That is where we are tracking.
“That is a very different skill set for a typical contact centre team member. However, while machine learning, AI and chatbots serve a purpose, there is a point in a journey where human-to-human contact is the best way to find resolution.”
Stores will still matter
In the report, produced in association with Arvato, retailers with a bricks-and-mortar presence all agreed stores will continue to play a key role.
Hotel Chocolat board director and chief marketing officer Lysa Hardy says: “I believe there is still a very important role of interaction that stores play. I have seen some retailers go down the route of ‘everything must be digital, even the high street’, but actually I think human beings in person are vital.
“We don’t think the world is going to look completely different, just that the pace of change is going to get faster”
Lysa Hardy, Hotel Chocolat
“We don’t think the world is going to look completely different, just that the pace of change is going to get faster. The challenge will be how we keep pace with that and customer expectations and required skills,” she added.
CRM for data management, mobile, improved on-site functionality and internal systems were other areas all identified as key investment priorities.
To read the full interviews and gain further insight, download the strategic report today. You will also discover:
- Technologies to invest in to future-proof digital operations without breaking the bank
- The shape of the future of in-store shopping
- The top 30 multichannel retailers
- What your customer experience roadmap must look like in 2021.