PERSONALISED RETAIL: PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES OF OMNICHANNEL EXPERIENCE

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INTRODUCTION
Experience is emerging as a critical differentiator in personalised retail. Consumers are moving beyond transactional commerce and aligning with brands that they connect with on a more emotive level. The challenge for Retailers is establishing this level of authenticity in an environment that remains fractured between physical and digital.

We convened a virtual panel to hear how Angus McDonald, Chief Executive, BBQ Galore, Shane Lenton, Chief Information and Digital Officer, Cue Clothing, and Scott Treller, Executive General Manager, SAP Customer Experience are moving towards a unified view of customers. Moderated by Paul Waddy, CEO, The Horse, their conversation identified some of the key challenges and opportunities of omnichannel experience. We are sharing some of the salient insights from this executive conversation with you today.

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PAUL {moderator}
We have accelerated rapidly down the path from analogue to digital Retail. Traditional levers, such as product range, and pace, precision and flexibility in fulfilment options have been widely implemented and so muted as competitive differentiators. To effectively ignite the interest of consumers and propel them down the path to purchase, Retailers need an e-commerce engine that responds personally and empathetically to customer needs. How can Retailers build this level of responsiveness across physical and digital environments?

ANGUS
It’s important to recognise that we live and operate in a borderless Retail world. We have witnessed a real shift in the maturity of e-commerce over the last twelve months, evinced by significant growth in online as a percentage share of overall Retail sales. As e-commerce builds momentum, the challenge for traditional Retailers becomes leveraging the physical footprint as a site of advantage. There is growing recognition of the tremendous potential a physical presence holds for delivering rich customer experiences. But these physical, human experiences hinge on a more fundamental omnichannel position: that the sum is greater than the parts. E-commerce was born as a function of marketing, and the dissonance that customers experience can often be traced to gaps in business integration. It is essential that Retailers recognise the power of a single view of the customer, appreciating that this view is contingent on facilitating the flow of information across the organisation.

SHANE
E-commerce is all about identifying moments where we can push recommendations based on behaviour, how we can leverage data to inform a whole gamut of activities at relevant stages of the customer’s digital journey. But this level of personalisation and precision has historically been foreign to physical environments. When we speak of unified commerce, we are talking about taking a single-view of customers across channels. The challenge is translating the deep consumer knowledge we use to tailor digital experiences into a physical environment. We need to think more deeply about the information dialogue between online and brick-and-mortar; how we can empower staff with real-time, consumer insights to deliver personalised in-store experiences, and how we can capture in-store information to continue a conversation with customers in a digital setting.

SCOTT
We sometimes fall into the trap of viewing online Retail as a form of cannibalisation. But once we adopt a more holistic view, we see that it’s all about building a unified view of the customer. Practically, you can’t redesign your entire physical store for every customer that comes through in the same way you can for a digital environment. But there are tremendous opportunities to augment in-store experiences with the same real-time insights that drive personalisation in online environments. The challenge for Retailers is to recognise the opportunity that a physical footprints represents for creating highly personalised experiences.

PAUL
Everyone is looking for connectivity, and Retailers cannot lose this opportunity to reimagine how they resonate with customers. This is a time for retailers to be braver, to think deeply about creating an emotional tie through e-commerce. So how do we create a connection that not only attracts, but retains customers?

SCOTT
We often hear claims that brick-and-mortar presents unrivalled opportunities for connection based on the power of the human touch.  But in theory, creating a lasting emotional connection is more achievable from a digital angle. When a person walks through the door of your store, they are not followed by all the data points that otherwise accompany them on a digital journey. All they carry is an expectation of the brand that has been informed by their digital experiences. So the challenge for Retailers when it comes to creating a connection with customers is how do we meet these expectations? We need to empower staff with the information to deliver informed experiences.

SHANE
We begin by identifying the information that is lost when the customer leaves the store. There is so much depth to the research piece that happen in-store, troves of information that are being forfeited instead of captured. Consider that there is no equivalent of a wishlist in a physical setting, no way to track the consumer’s interest in related products or adjacent shelf items, and no way to record what inhibited the purchase or why the cart was abandoned. Now consider how we could not only bridge this information gap, but fill the void with a personal and meaningful interaction. Think of the potential of e-receipts, not just as a wishlist or ledger, but as a vehicle for a personalised and ongoing dialogue between the customer and the in-store staff around the products that interested them and when inventory or prices may change. If we capture information, we can create a dialogue, and if we create a dialogue, we will retain customers.

PAUL
It’s easier to create loyalty and drive business results if you remember that customers are not statistics. The ongoing pandemic has further demonstrated the dangers of business silos and relying on a fragmented view of customers. It is essential that Retailers gain a wholistic picture of consumers, that they look beyond their own data and implement a strategy that is driven by numbers, not a narrow-focussed impression of these numbers. How can Retailers build this capability?

ANGUS
There is a hygiene level when it comes to technology and data, a baseline of proficiency and functionality that Retailers must meet. We must continually invest in our digital capability to keep pace and remain in consumer consideration as this baseline rises. But technology only goes so far – it can help you find an audience, but it can’t create the message. It is vital to recognise that the most powerful brands alive are increasingly tribal, inspiring a more emotive following than others have in the past. While the historical levers of differentiation were incredibly rational, now people are motivated by brands they can align with on a deeper level. To resonate in this way, Retailers need to have structures in place that empower creative thinking. We need to approach challenges on their merits rather than retrospectively fitting the outcomes that our current technology accommodates.

SCOTT
We can only truly know our customers if they trust us. Retailers should aspire to build trust with personalisation rather than erode it by being overly familiar without context. We are custodians of data that customers own, and we need to reflect this ownership by implementing robust, consent-driven capabilities. Loyalty and retention have shifted away from reward programmes towards creating intimate experiences at scale. Strong, consensual data practices are the bedrock for creating authentic consumer experiences. Without it, your commerce infrastructure is vulnerable and your potential for knowing your customers is limited.

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CONCLUSION
The pandemic heralded great change and uncertainty for the nation’s Retail community. In many ways, the extreme conditions of the pandemic provided consumers and retailers alike with a rare opportunity to reassess their relationship. In response to the ambiguity and chaos, Retailers found opportunities to reflect on the role that consumer experience will play in the sector moving forward. While many challenges lay ahead, there are real opportunities to elevate and improve the ways we connect with consumers in a meaningful manner. Connect Media and SAP will continue to connect Retailers with the aim of furthering this dialogue, combating shared challenges and enlivening collective opportunities.

ALGORITHMS, ETHICS, AND THE EVOLUTION OF HUMAN RESOURCES

The world is undergoing a consequential paradigm shift. The primacy of climate as a mainstream socio-political and economic issue is forcing businesses to reengineer longstanding operating models in the pursuit of sustainable outcomes, while consumer-driven pressure on sustainable distribution models and events like the recent COVID-19 outbreak are a wake-up call for global enterprises to confront their own supply-chain dependencies.

Beneath these challenges is a shifting technological bedrock. We are collecting data at an unprecedented and exponential rate, mining the complexities of the world in greater depth than ever before, all the while regulatory landscapes struggle to reign in practices and protect consumers that want to participate in the world with greater privacy and security safeguards.

Employers and their employees are simultaneously grappling with the often over-dramatised rise of AI, trying to ascertain whether dystopic fears around vast job displacements will impact them before they have the time or capacity to evolve into prophetically touted roles that are yet to exist. This, then, is a small snapshot of the world we live in, and for Human Resources professionals, it is a world of immense opportunity.

Human Resources professionals have specific opportunities to empower employees with a lived purpose and to genuinely pursue business for the better; to have serious conversations around algorithmic ethics, employee privacy and wellbeing; and to train employees in analytical methodologies and explore pragmatic approaches for transitioning people into new roles. Connect Media and Australia Post gathered leading Human Resources executives from around the country to candidly confront these challenges and opportunities.

BE WELL AT THE TOP

VARIO FROM PINSENT MASONS and Connect Media gathered leading national General Counsel in defiance of the enduring stigma surrounding mental health in Corporate Australia. The General Counsel in attendance had a depth of varied experience across both in-house and private practice settings, and should be complimented for the level of candour and vulnerability displayed in a conversation that relied heavily on lived experiences.

Together, we interrogated a number of interwoven challenges, including: diverging generational approaches to communication and privacy; confronting the failings of reflexive institutional responses and entrenched attitudes towards mental health; reconciling competing responsibilities to the individual and the organisation as an entity; moving beyond processes and demonstrating leadership through modelled behaviour; and creating support networks at the heights of corporate leadership.

UNBOXED THINKING

Achieving the twin goals of digital convenience and security is a dynamic undertaking in today’s hypercompetitive, digitally entangled environment. Technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace, and businesses must reckon with this exponential rate of discovery to satiate the immense appetite consumers have for mobile, seamless interactions.

A once unfathomable number of devices are now destined to be connected under the Internet of Things, creating new opportunities for organisations to build creative, engaging, personal experiences. But each one of these consumer touchpoints is a source of vulnerability, and cyber-criminals have displayed their ability to evolve and mutate their attack patterns with pace and ferocity.

Ultimately, to deliver efficient, intuitive services in this frenetic technology landscape, organisations must intimately understand their consumers and strike an appropriate balance between immersive user interfaces and security. GBG gathered leading security, fraud and digital experts from all corners of the national economy to explore how the country’s leading organisations are walking this line on the way to securing competitive advantage.

DEMYSTIFYING PROCESS AUTOMATION

The current digital age is evolving at an exponential rate without historic precedent. Consumer demands for seamless, reliable experiences are driving businesses to dismantle legacy systems and build flexible, integrated processes. These new efficiencies are obscured in a chaotic and contested technological environment; one where transformative solutions are entangled with false promises and pitfalls. Businesses leaders must be able to discern returns from rhetoric, distinguishing mature solutions from prophetic exaggerations to integrate processes that reflect and advance customer outcomes.

DOCUSIGN and Connect Media gathered leading finance, legal and procurement executives from all sectors of the national economy to explore the factors that are arresting digital momentum in Australia. Their conversation uncovered a number of shared frustrations, as well as aligned opportunities – this is what they had to say.

FLEXIBLE BUT NOT VULNERABLE: SUPPORTING REMOTE WORKFORCES

INTRODUCTION

Businesses are beginning to accept that our current operating environment, defined by distance, is not a fleeting affair. The seemingly immutable practices that defined the way businesses interacted with each other and their employees have been upheaved on a global scale, creating new behavioral and structural precedents such as recruitment beyond proximity that bear ongoing commercial significance.

The reflexive, near-instinctive steps that businesses took to enable remote workplaces following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic are falling under heavy scrutiny as the longevity of these practices and the value they yield becomes apparent.

Enterprises reflecting on the lasting business case for remote work are confronting the redundancy of legacy perimeter defence methods as the parameters for effective cyber-security recentre around identity. Security threats are compounded by behavioural and processes challenges that stand in the way of employees reaching their full potential under a mandatory remote work regime.

In response to these challenges, OKTA recently arranged for leading digital professionals from all sectors of the national economy to virtually interface on the current state of work. Their conversation illuminated shared challenges around securing remote workplaces and revealed strategies for empowering a truly flexible workforce. This is what they had to say.


SECURITY CHALLENGES: IDENTITY AND ZERO TRUST

The context for work has evolved as companies become physically dislocated from their employees. The firm’s digital footprint has ventured outside familiar perimeters to lay tracks in new territory, and security vulnerabilities are the corollary for this mobility.

The parameters for secure work are fundamentally shifting: attack vectors are being remapped to directly target home environments; employees risk becoming apathetic towards, or at the least unsure of, expectations around data handling and remote information exchange; and the danger of disenfranchised individuals becoming antagonists of security breaches is amplified by reduced visibility across remote work locations.

The sheer scale and speed at which businesses adopted blanket remote work policies, while necessary, has amplified these threats considerably. To operate with confidence in this new commercial landscape, businesses must ensure that information is being viewed by relevant parties in unquantifiable locations and across unseen devices. This is an imposing but surmountable challenge, provided businesses can recognise the vital role identity plays in ensuring that workforces do not introduce vulnerability to the workplace.

Identity empowers businesses to abandon perimeter defense methods in favour of zero trust principles. By bringing the strongest representation of security to the user, wherever they may be, businesses can allow the right people with the right access to the right resources in the right context. The effectiveness of identity as the foundation for an enforceable security policy hinges on the fact that cyber-security antagonists only succeed when they compromise identities – every attack is levelled through some form of compromised identity.

Businesses will only succeed as defenders and build their security posture in meaningful ways when they drive past passwords to secure identities. Identity is the child of context – by continually assessing location and actively managing devices, businesses can generate a unique profile of characteristic behavior. These profiles can then be leveraged to make immediate and informed decisions around when and how certain applications are being accessed.


BUSINESS CHALLENGES: A BROADER PERSPECTIVE ON FLEXIBILITY

Flexibility has been subject to many varying corporate interpretations. In too many business cases, flexibility has become synonymous with remote work policies that enable employees to engage with the company on personalised terms. While this definition carried some weight prepandemic, it is of little differential utility now that entire industries have been forced to abandon their offices and routines. Instead, it may be helpful for businesses to think of flexibility as the practice of empowering people to realise the full value of their skills.

It is important to recognise that remote work on the scale we are currently witnessing poses several behavioural and processes challenges that can inhibit employees from realising their full potential in line with this broader painting of flexibility. Businesses that apply a service design lens to their actions to counter these challenges will be in a stronger position to compete when our operating environment corrects, and employee choice once again becomes a factor in remote work practices.

Beyond software requirements and hardware limitations, one of the most immediate challenges tied to remote work has also proved to be the most obstinate: being remote first makes it incredibly difficult to be present. Physical separation always threatens to fester into isolation, not only from colleagues and friends but from the company’s mission that serves to connect, inspire, and motivate action.

When combined with any number of external market pressures threatening job security, it becomes very difficult for employees to sustain performance let alone generate momentum for new initiatives under the spectre of disconnection. This mindset affecting relatability is not sustainable from an individual or business perspective, and stems from the fact that the rituals of a physical workspace do not naturally translate to virtual environments.

Constant, two-way dialogue an interactive experiences have emerged as favourable remedies for stagnation from separation, with many businesses reporting a spike in virtual team events that serve to channel information up and down the corporate hierarchy. When well executed, digital engagements are an effective vehicle for both incentivising action back to core values as well as aligning employees behind a shared mission. Constant dialogue is not without its own dangers, including the erosion of the line between professional and private life.

For some businesses, the fact that the boundary between work life and private life is collapsing is being celebrated an opportunity for greater authenticity, connection, and representation, particularly as employee generated video content gathers momentum as an effective vehicle for both communication and development. It is thereforecritical that leaders reassess the communication strategies and business processes that surround remote work to better support, connect, and enable employees.


CONCLUSION

The swift transition to remote work practices has had a sweeping impact on the security posture of Australian businesses. The inefficacy of legacy perimeter defense methods is being cast into stark relief as businesses move to enable a set of technologies built on identity that aspire to a flexible workforce. But the challenges of supporting a remote workforce extend beyond security.

To empower a truly flexible workforce, businesses have had to reengineer processes and adopt new modes of communication to connect and inspire otherwise disparate employees. It is fair to say that our current businesses climate is defined by a crisis of identity, in terms of both security and wellbeing. The ability of businesses to defend the identity of their employees in this wholistic sense will prove consequential for success in the uncertain times that lie ahead.

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STORIES ARE BEST SHARED

The fourth industrial revolution is rapidly outgrowing its adolescence. Technology is advancing at an exponential rate that is simply unprecedented in human history. And consumers are reaping the benefits, with new competitors arising on the back of consequential technologies to cater to hyper-personal requests.

Established enterprises are reflecting earnestly to identify their own vulnerabilities and build resilience moving forward.

Improving working capital efficiencies is a crucial yet often overlooked dilemma within this wider recalibration. Consumer driven change is so entirely pervasive that the most fundamental structures underpinning business operations are feeling an impact.

Pressures and expectations are steadily growing on financial executives to absorb this consumer-driven change. In response, AMEX united CFOs from a wealth of industries to give this dialogue the volume it deserves. This conversation unearthed a number of shared frustrations, as well as shared opportunities – this is their story.

KEEPING COMPLEXITY MOVING

Deepening fissures in globalisation, hostile trade wars, a drift towards isolationism and populism—all signs of a global paradigm shift impacting the movement of goods. Combined with reduced automation costs, consumer demands for seamless service delivery and renewed attention to sustainability, finance and procurement professionals are re-evaluating their priorities for continued success in the digital age – and transparency is climbing to the top.

LEASEPLAN and CONNECT MEDIA gathered leading finance and procurement executives from all sectors of the national economy for a candid and honest discussion on how businesses are navigating this shifting landscape. Our conversation unearthed a number of shared frustrations, as well as shared opportunities – this is what they had to say.