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Richard Siddle: how the digital revolution has transformed retailing

Published:  19 October, 2012

We've been told often enough over the years that we're nothing but a nation of shopkeepers. Well that adage needs updating to a nation of shoppers. When it comes to pushing the weekly trolley around the supermarket of going online, the Brits truly rule the waves.

We've been told often enough over the years that we're nothing but a nation of shopkeepers. Well that adage needs updating to a nation of shoppers. When it comes to pushing the weekly trolley around the supermarket of going online, the Brits truly rule the waves.

It is not surprising, therefore that, we have some of the best supermarkets and brand owners in the world. So where better to go to find out the latest grocery retail trends than at the IGD's main retail conference of the year.

Last year's theme was all about the birth of the professional shopper. Cash poor yet empowered in their shopping choices by smartphones that allow them to compare prices and shop around for the best deals.

This year the battle ground is all about how you use enhanced digital communications to get as close as you can to understanding and then influencing - right down to the point of sale - individual shoppers needs.
It is as one senior Asda executive put it no longer about selling products, but understanding data.

We can expect to see an increasing blurring between in-store, or offline, and online sales. As consumers get used to advanced digital communications, retailers and brands have to respond with far more exciting, informative and interactive in-store fixtures and experiences.

The BWS aisle is a major case in point. Diageo's European president, Andrew Morgan, admitted to the IGD audience that the drinks category was failing to capitalise on consumers' interest in the category and manufacturers and brands had to do a lot more to "collaborate" with the retailers.


If you follow the lead of the major FMCG brands that means more interaction and the kind of expert, friendly advice that shoppers want directly on the shop floor or through smartphones or online. It is not one fixed route but a combination of different initaitives that are all vitally tailored to what consumers want and not what brands and producers have simply done in the past.

It means looking at retailing and sales from a completely different starting point. We have to get in to the minds of our consumers and base everything we do on what they want - on what you want when you have your consumer's head on.

As Joanne Denney-Finch, the IGD's chief executive concluded the rules of retailing have changed. Yesterday's way of doing things are on the scrap heap. It's time to draw up a whole new rules book.

But it should also be a whole lot of fun doing so. Good luck.

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