M&S’ customer marketing and online executive director Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne said retailers need to know that the new “best-in-class” can come from outside the industry.
During his keynote speech at Retail Week Buzz on how to blend online and offline loyalty, he explained to delegates that customers now hold retailers to standards set outside the industry.
“The speed of disruption is coming from pure plays but also from the technology that is empowering customers every day,” he told delegates at Retail Week Buzz. “Customers are very quick to adopt that.
“One of the important consequences of this change in consumer behaviour is that they adopt a best-in-class proposition and apply to it every proposition.
“So if you are a retailer the new benchmark may come from a different business, like a travel agency. There’s a new best-in-class proposition that we all have to understand.”
Bousquet-Chavanne told delegates that the key to customer loyalty was to know “the customer in totality, the holy grail is having an integrated view.”
He added: “We have a long tradition of customer loyalty. We have a strong place in the British culture, we have 32 million customers across food, clothing and home. We are one of the most trusted brands in country.
“The key is how to keep it alive and thriving. There are new dynamics in market today.”
Bousquet-Chavanne spoke about the retailers’ continued efforts to engage with its customer base.
He revealed that the M&S loyalty card, Sparks, had garnered five million members in its first year.
“Sparks has enabled us to get that synchronised view of the customer,” he said. “The adoption rate has been amazing. It gives us an abundance of very rich cross-channel analytics that we never had before.
“It is now a question of leveraging that data to build a deeper customer experience which allows us to stay connected with our customers outside the stores.
“That builds the deeper relationship, but so what? The ‘so what’ is the pathway to greater conversion and the pathway to greater frequency and getting customers to new categories and channels.
“Historically we were either online or in store and Sparks allows us to have that permanent connection between the two and know what they are doing at a given point in time.
“We see it as a transformative building block from which we can test everything in M&S. It touches everything in the business.”