Sometimes, we obsess about day-to-day performance to the detriment of bigger changes. A huge upheaval lies ahead with the triggering of Article 50. It means much of the future remains uncertain - and uncertainty is bad for business.
However, inertia is not an option. The best advice is to stay focused on the customer and continue to use technology to innovate and deliver a valued experience. Consumers voting for the best online shopping experience in a recent Which? survey of UK supermarkets ranked Iceland top, praising its no substitution policy, convenient delivery slots and friendly drivers.
There are many opportunities for technology to cut consumer stress, provide solutions and enhance customer experience. With Easter coming up, no retailer can rest on its laurels. As a basic principle, you need to talk to your customers where they gather, and increasingly this means online and mobile first.
Grocery is now a mobile category, with over half of searches coming from smartphones - and over the long Easter weekend people are much more likely to be on mobile than desktop. A mobile-optimised website offering practical data on store locations and opening times should now be a hygiene factor but for deeper engagement you need a cache of inspiring and relevant content. For the holiday, this might include relevant product listings and fun Easter egg-focused activities - Easter recipe searches rose 11% year on year over the long weekend in 2016.
Relevant video content has huge value for engagement - whether it be ‘how tos’ for roasting times or amplifying ad campaigns. Top recipe-related searches on YouTube last year over Easter weekend included ‘how to make pancakes?’ and ‘how to make scrambled eggs?’. And don’t forget the long weekend kicks off the first considerations of outdoor activities - a mild Easter last year bought a 37% surge in barbecue searches.
A good first step might be to conduct a content audit for assets like BBQ safety guides or videos on the best way to cook steak, but you’ll need the right technology partner to help take advantage of any good weather opportunities and surface and deliver the content seamlessly in moments that matter. National chains also need the ability to target ads and promotions to particular areas or locations - we know the weather in one town can be the opposite of one 100 miles away.
The ability to detect and interpret customer data and intent signals will allow retailers to improve one-to-one relationships and understand consumers at a deep level - and machine learning and automation will take data interrogation and associated action to the next level.
Martijn Bertisen is UK sales director at Google
23 Mar 2017
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