A wave of disruptive brands has entered the marketplace in recent years and is turning retailers’ heads, so how can you ensure your business is innovating in order to remain competitive? HSO’s head of retail Hector Hickmott provides five top tips

From the pandemic and Brexit to the current cost-of-living crisis, the past few years have taught us that the world in which we all live, and trade, is ever-changing, and in order to both survive and thrive you must constantly evolve. 

_Consumer Week 2023 - September 2022 - 177

HSO’s head of retail Hector Hickmott, centre right, at the Retail Week Consumer Week summit

The businesses leading the pack are the ones being bold and brave, the ones that aren’t afraid to make changes in an attempt to keep shoppers coming back, whether that be shaking up their product proposition or making fundamental changes to their supply chain. 

But how can established and more traditional retailers modify their tried-and-tested business models to expand their market reach? 

These topics were discussed in depth at Retail Week’s recent Consumer Week summit. The retail future panel session, in collaboration with HSO, brought together some of the industry’s biggest disruptors to discuss how to shake up established business models to expand your market reach.

The panel – featuring Emily Kraftman, managing director for the UK and Europe at Who Gives a Crap, and Jasper Sutcliffe, UK publishing and affiliate manager at Bookshop.org – had an in-depth discussion about the constant need for retailers to make canny investments to stay relevant.

From these discussions came a handful of ideas to help retailers remain competitive in an increasingly turbulent market. 

”What is the optimal next action for that individual? The data can help and inform you to make data-driven decisions to ensure the best outcome.”

1. Create an adaptive culture

The cultural mindset of a business is integral. Create a culture in which everyone in it is willing to experience and try different things as quickly as possible. Ensure that everyone is looking at ways to evolve and do things better in everything they do. 

2. Constantly question

Go around every part of the business and challenge how you can do each thing in a more innovative and disruptive way. 

3. Examine every cog in your machine

From shopfloor service to back-end operations, retailers need to be at the top of their game, ensuring every piece of the retail engine is as slick and efficient as it can be.

It’s equally as important to focus on the back-end mechanics that keep everything moving as it is to disrupt the proposition, so take each element in turn and evaluate it thoroughly.

4. Aim to be effortless

The best way to drive repeat spending is to ensure you are operationally excellent. Make everything effortless; from how a customer finds the product and how items are recommended to them, to how they pay and how the item is delivered.

Make every part of your operation seamless, efficient and helpful to the consumer, and they will in turn be loyal to you. 

5. Let data help you disrupt

Customer data is hugely important and it is also incredibly important how you use it.

When times are tough you need that information to help you trade through, to understand the elasticity of this price, the level of loyalty of that particular person who had this shopping pattern and these transactions with you.

What is the optimal next action for that individual? The data can help and inform you to make data-driven decisions to ensure the best outcome.

To gain more insight from Consumer Week click this link to watch the virtual masterclasses in your own time.

Read more on the retailers and brands redefining experience in HSO and Retail Week’s report: 9 CX disruptors 


Hector Hickmott picture_2

Hector Hickmott is head of retail at HSO