Marks and Spencer boss Marc Bolland kicked off the second day of the Cloud Retail Week conference with a speech on the importance of sustainability, encouraging retailers to provide incentives for consumers to shop sustainably.
He said: “Bolland said: “We grew up with the American Dream, the material presence of a car or a radio – it’s built on real things. It’s about status, desire, aspiration for success.
“What are the role models for a sustainable world? They’re fragmented, they’re unavailable, it’s too expensive. We need to create desire, we need to create hunger. We are not telling the customer story.”
Elsewhere at the conference Hotel Chocolat chief executive Angus Thirwell warned against taking personalised web offers too far. He said: “You can take personalisation too far. If somebody has been shopping for dark chocolate one day that does not mean they will want the same the next – it may be a gift. There is a danger that you can strap people up with too many deals and trying to be too clever.”
Debenhams online boss Simon Forster, meanwhile, said mobile is likely to be the biggest game changer for multichannel retailers, but added retailers have not fully realised its potential. He said elements such as scanning and location-based services had not come together in one package. He said: “Once it gets going that will be a game-changer.”
And the B&Q Youth Board shook things up by doling out some constructive criticism to their senior retail audience. One board member, Jamie Taylor, said more needs to be done to attract young people into the industry: “Young people struggle to find retailers offering advanced prospects, and retailers will struggle to attract the best young people as it’s viewed as a part-time Saturday job, not a career.”
He said more retailers should talk to the young people working in their stores. “It’s more than likely there’s someone already rethinking how you do business. Retailers aren’t interested in what a part-time shelf stacker has to say and that’s a bit of a shame. Is the structure of your hierarchy too tall for ideas to get through?”
Another youth board member, Mark Buckley, added retailers aren’t communicating well enough on social media and that the next generation of consumers will be adept at tuning out what they don’t want to hear.
“We have grown up with the noise of social media and we know how to tune it out. How many of you are trying to think how you interact with us, rather than trying to sell to us? I would suggest not many.”