March 31, 2022

After the Storm

Experiential CX looks to be a key factor in Retail’s continued resurgence.

It’s certainly not the time for the Retail industry to rest on its laurels. For, despite all the positive growth and news, last month saw a little reality check with UK retail sales falling as storms and the cost of living crisis hit customer behaviour.

Retail sales fell unexpectedly by 0.3% in February after a 1.9% increase in January. Economists had forecast a 0.6% rise in February1. Consumers appeared to switch spending to eating out more (on the plus side, good news for hospitality), as businesses became fully free from the shackles of restrictions, while storms also put people off from hitting the shops.

But there is a silver lining. With people venturing out more, the proportion of online retail sales dropped to its lowest level since March 2020, at 22.7%, having peaked in February 2021 at 37.7%, and as Heather Bovil from the Office of National Statistics says, retail businesses with bricks and mortar outlets felt the impact on sales less:

“After a buoyant January, retail sales fell back a little last month. There was a notable decline for companies that predominantly trade online, following a strong performance over the festive and new year period.”1

It’s very hard to predict what will happen across the next year. Even “the Nostradamus of Retail”, Lord Wolfson, the boss at Next, does not know:

“We’ve never seen anything like this before and we’re not quite sure how it will pan out,” he says. “The uncertainties in the year ahead are not ones we’ve had any experience of in the last 20 or 30 years, in terms of the level of inflation in essential goods or inflation in our own products.”2

One thing that is almost certain to be important is having a killer customer experience, and CX disruptors are already making an impact, as a recent report by Retail Week3 details.

The report highlights 9 disruptors, all of whom are delivering an exceptional customer experience and driving repeat purchases and long-term loyalty, but we’ll put a spotlight on just one; Pasta Evangelists.

The pasta subscription service founded in 2016 has delivered an explosion in revenues in recent years, driven by the start of the pandemic when people were ordered to stay at home. Turnover has jumped from £79,000 in 2017 to more than £21m in 2021.

Customers can order from a weekly menu of 15 recipes, which are delivered chilled to their door on the day of their choosing, but the business is increasingly pursuing a multichannel approach (surely vital for any retailer’s future success), having struck distribution deals with supermarkets Ocado and M&S.

Co-founder and chief marketing officer Finn Lagun says; “We want our customers to recognise the fresh, artisan nature of our pasta: unlike ostensibly fresh pasta sold in supermarkets, our products are artisanally – rather than industrially – made.”

OUR ALGORITHM IS A DANCER.

He’s also a foot tapper, a head bobber and, very occasionally, a gifted air guitarist. He’s a person, called James, and he does the job that most places leave to the robots.

Curated by superhumans.

Blending artificial intelligence, and actual intelligence, James oversees the curation of the playlists that influence the way your customers shop. Because, while the tech, data and science are important, there’s nothing better at picking music for humans, than humans. Especially our humans.

Walk this way, talk this way…

You have to walk the walk if you talk the talk, so here’s Phil Whittle, Retail Director at footwear brand schuh, on how we helped transform their brand’s customer experience:

“Startle went beyond our requests for a good music and signage solution and presented a bespoke, forward-thinking technology strategy. Coupled with their commitment to excellent service, they really stood out amongst other providers and have exceeded our expectations so far.”

Heard enough?

Get in touch to start giving your customers those hair-tingling moments.

References:

1The Guardian; ‘Retail sales fall in Great Britain as storms and cost of living crisis hit habits’. 25th March 2022. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/mar/25/retail-sales-fall-in-great-britain-as-storms-and-cost-of-living-crisis-hit-habits

2Retail Gazette; ‘What Next for the cost-of-living crisis? Even retail Nostradamus Wolfson is flummoxed’. 25th March 2022. https://www.retailgazette.co.uk/blog/2022/03/what-next-for-the-cost-of-living-crisis-even-retail-nostradamus-wolfson-is-flummoxed/

3Retail Week; ‘9 CX disruptors – meet the retailers and brands redefining experience’. 27th March 2022. https://www.retail-week.com/customer/9-cx-disruptors-meet-the-retailers-and-brands-redefining-experience/7041529.article?authent=1

After the Storm
Hey, we've just met you and this is crazy. But here's our number . So, call us maybe?

London

Startle Music Ltd
1st Floor, 79-81 Borough Rd
London, SE1 1DN, UK

/// club.shaped.easy+44 (0) 203 397 7676

New York

Startle International Inc
5th Floor, 555 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10022, USA

/// motor.ramp.album+1 646-585-0165