Engaging with staff is essential if retailers are to succeed in meeting customers’ needs,  according to key retailers speaking at the World Retail Congress.

“The secret sauce of Best Buy is in its 180,000 employees,” said Best Buy International chief executive officer Bob Willett.

Best Buy, which is building on the success of its big-box electricals format by offering services to customers, encourages staff to be entrepreneurial about each individual location to ensure that the customer needs are met. “They know what the problems are and what the solution is,” he said.

Inditex chief communications officer Jesus Echevarria said that customer-centricity is “at the heart of everything” that Inditex does.

He added that staff’s participation in its unique logistics structure is essential to its unrivalled success.

Inditex is able to replenish stock globally within 48 to 72 hours thanks to its modeling systems. Store staff initiate the re-stocking process and create the right image of stock depth in stores, removing customer frustrations.

Willett warned that retailers should not go down the customer-centricity route unless they align everything they do and look at it “holistically”, including segmentation of profit and loss by customer lifestyle and not by buying groups.

Willett added that all retailers and manufacturers should work together to “remove the frustrations of the customer”.

“For those that don’t change, they will go the way of the dinosaur and frankly they deserve it,” he said.

Stephen Rose, chief executive of LaSer subsidiary 5one, said that changing mindsets was “the hardest thing to do”, but that customer-centricity is being demanded by customers, and those retailers that guarantee shoppers’ needs will be “the new breed of retailer”.