Retailers need to personalise their offer to meet individual customers’ needs, according to Tesco group chief executive Philip Clarke.
Speaking at the 2012 IGD Convention, Clarke said the digital revolution has changed how people shop.
“With a touch of their finger, a click of a mouse, they can take their custom from one retailer, or one brand, to another,” he said.
“The world is there for them to research, to hunt for bargains wherever they are – at home, on the way to work, in stores.
“My answer to this challenge is very simple. It can be summed up in just two words: get personal.”
Clarke said retailers need to anticipate what customers want in the future.
“We need to be one step in front, helping to guide them, making their lives easier, more enjoyable and better.”
Digital technology has given retailers the ability to forge a personal relationship with their customers, he said.
“Not only can we communicate with people directly, one on one, but thanks to the data we now all have, we can understand more about what those customers want, how they shop, their stage in life, their income, their tastes, their habits.”
Clarke said people are shopping online to take control of their budgets and increasingly they are doing so on their smart phones.
According to Tesco, one in five online purchases will be made via smart phones by Christmas and show rooming (when people use their smart phone to research prices while out shopping in stores) is “alive and well in England”.
Clarke explored how retailers might create a personal customer offer and the importance of analysing data quickly and sharing it throughout the supply chain in order to shape and personalise it.
Innovation is also paramount, he said; and highlighted recent Tesco innovations such as click and collect, virtual stores and scan as you shop.
But retailers cannot deliver innovation on their own, said Clarke.
“No company has a monopoly on innovation,” he said; and called for a “new spirit of partnership”.
Clarke highlighted Tesco’s work with APS Salads and a three-year supplier strategy, which has helped the producer invest in new plants and work to reduce its carbon footprint.
Clarke revealed Tesco has created a new online community for its international producers, farmers and growers to forge even closer links with its suppliers.
It will feature blogs, discussion forums and customer insights.
“I want this to make Tesco much more transparent and accessible to our suppliers,” he said.
Summing up, Clarke said there were three simple steps to win customers in today’s tough market :
- Create a personalised offer
- Innovate in partnership with suppliers
- Build trust and loyalty with customers and suppliers
“Only then can we share insights, swap ideas, try new things and, as a result, build the truly personalised offer that customers want,” he said.