I recently attended a business breakfast with a number of senior IT contacts from the retail industry including the CIO of Telefónica UK, Brendan O’Rourke. We were discussing the future of digital retail operations and the main challenges of bringing digital to the high street.

Advances in technology were central to our discussion with everyone keen to explore the possibilities of incorporating new digital tools into their operations strategy. Despite this enthusiasm, it’s essential to remember that the customer should be at the heart of every decision we make.  It’s crucial that we understand their expectations and feed their purchasing habits. We need to know what technologies they are using and why, what they expect in-store as opposed to online and where they are making most of their purchases. Changes can’t just be based on what seems logical for the business, we need to consider what the customer actually wants and uses.

Maintaining an excellent personal experience for customers was a clear concern throughout our discussion. Customers don’t want to be treated as a collective. By checking what you know about them –  through analysing data from loyalty schemes and past purchases –  you can engage with them as individuals and maintain brand loyalty.

I want to walk into a store as if I was invited and would like the retailer to be prepared to provide me with what I want before I’ve even spoken to anyone. This is something retailers should be exploring with new technology when preparing for the future of digital operations.

The need for a personalised approach was just one of six key themes to emerge from the discussion. To explore the other five themes download our whitepaper here.

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