Blog: World Retail Congress 2013: Customer loyalty key amid changing retail landscape

Michelle Russell | 9 October 2013

Despite talk of the rapid growth of e-commerce and optimism for the emerging markets, one key message has run through the presentations of the World Retail Congress in the last two days: don't forget the customer.

There is no doubt there has been a shift in consumer shopping habits since the recession. The convenience format has become increasingly essential, the desire for value has led to the growth of the discounter along with fierce promotional activity, and more sophisticated technology has led to a migration of consumers from bricks and mortar to online shopping.

But while shopping habits have evolved and retailers have been scrambling to invest to keep apace, those that have kept their eye on tailoring the consumer proposition are those that will win out. This has been the message to delegates in Paris this week.

Tony Stockil, CEO of Javelin Group told attendees on Monday retailers need to be more customer as well as digitally-oriented. "We need to be offering more convenience, better price, a wider assortment. They are all essential."

Ian Cheshire was keen to remind attendees the fundamental change in the retail model was down to "the way the customer controls us". Therefore, he suggests, the customer remains key.

However, it was Coca-Cola Co. chief customer officer, Sandy Douglas, that summed it up succinctly. "Disappoint a consumer and their disappointment will flash across the digital network".

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