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Consumers are evolving, retailers must adapt or die Customer service champion and numero CEO, Guy Colclough, highlights some remarkable innovations changing the face of retailing for good. onsumers love technology. Anyone in any


that make their life easier. We know this from first-hand

doubt should check the plethora of recently

experience seeing the amazing reaction to things like our text &

published research from a host of respected

reserve functionality (first developed in 2006), our iPhone

bodies. Ofcom, the independent regulator for the UK

applications that streamline customer returns processes and an

communications industries, captured the mood of the

array of new mobile shopping applications. So, for ambitious

nation when it found that on average people spend

retailers it’s not a case of how to meet the new communication

half their waking life using media and communications

demands of consumers but how quickly they can take advantage

(see table 1). ForeSee Results, in their Report on

of the new opportunities given the specific needs and

Mobile Shopping (UK Edition) covering the behaviour of nearly

preferences of their customer segments.

10,000 people, found that a third of consumers have shopped by mobile and a third more plan to do so (see table 2). And

One size doesn’t fit all

Josh Bernhoff, senior vice president idea development at

Despite Apple recently reporting a staggering 86 per cent

Forrester, charts the rise of the digitally empowered consumer,

year-on-year increase in sales of its trendsetting iPhone and

concluding that:

Nokia signalling the importance of smartphones with news of

“The spread of smart mobile devices means that people now

its groundbreaking tie-up with Microsoft; consumers remain

have access to those connections wherever they are, not just

individuals with specific preferences. And so, even with everyone

when they are at a computer. The availability of cloud services

embracing technology, people choose to communicate in

can tell you in an instant what your house is worth or whether

different ways and at different times. Rather than establish a

the restaurant you are about to go into is any good. And then

single platform for communication, technology has created a

video creates a new dimension. The combination of all of those

multi-channel society in which people can do what they like,

technologies means that the consumer who wants satisfaction

when the like. Enforcing a contact strategy based on telephony

is now in a position to have a lot more power than they have

alone is simply not good enough anymore.

ever had before.”

numero research into consumer behaviour has identified a number of consumer segments, each with very distinctive

Table 1: Key Ofcom findings about technology use in the UK

attitudes and preferences in relation to communication. I believe

• Consumers spend 7 hours a day watching TV, surfing the web and using mobiles

that all retailers need to understand the needs of individuals

• Consumers often multi-task using several devices at once

and adapt their customer service approaches accordingly. A one

• Mobile internet & smartphones are the key drivers in multichannel comms

size fits all approach is no longer acceptable to consumers as

• 13.5 million people surf the web on mobiles, 3 times the 2008 figure

smarter organisations deliver bespoke and personalised services.

• 25% of time online is now spent on social media including Facebook

The research, which is available in a free report from

• Internet penetration is now 73% in the UK, includes more on the consumer

• Silver surfers are part of a growing population of social media fans

segments shown in table three. The scenario creates a real issue for retailers faced with

In fact, hardly a day goes by without further anecdotal or factual evidence confirming that the information age has taken

the need to support multiple consumer types, via multiple communication channels, while looking after business as usual.

a grip of the population. A trend we continually respond to at numero with the ongoing development of our software

The strongest survive

platform for retailers.

numero has the good fortune to work with many leading lights in the retail world, including Tesco, Argos, GAME, Matalan,

What consumers want

Lakeland, JD Williams, Selfridges & Co, Homebase, Dixons, Yodel,

Technology-savvy consumers are real advocates of innovations

Ideal Shopping, FGH and Express Gifts. We’re fascinated to see

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how global leaders in the retail field are embracing technology


Table 2: ForeSee Results Report on Mobile Shopping (UK Edition)

to provide a completely different user experience. This change has strongly influenced the development of the numero

• 32% of consumers currently use mobile phones to access retailer websites

solutions platform with substantial and ongoing R&D creating a

• A further 32% of consumers plan to use mobile phones to access retailer websites

class leading system that provides a wealth of multi-channel

• 10% of web shoppers purchased via mobiles for the Christmas season

functionality fit for all the communication preferences of

• Purchases via mobiles have increase 400% in one year

different customer groups.

• Price comparisons, product specifications, product reviews and product

It’s clear that many retailers are evolving in line with the

alternatives are the primary reasons for accessing the websites and applications by

customer’s needs, but many aren’t. The outcome is likely to be


the same as natural evolution, with those who adapt securing

• Consumers who are satisfied with the mobile experience are 32% more likely to buy

their futures at the expense of others. Another of our research projects measured the customer service performance of 80 of the UK’s leading brands and revealed staggering shortfalls by

beyond. Here’s just a flavour of what we’re already seeing in

large retailers who risk extinction. The findings show that many

major retailers along with some new developments:

perform badly across aspects of communication that consumers consider to be straightforward. The findings from the research

Embracing the social consumer. Monitoring social media

are too far-reaching to cover in this article but the fact that

channels that are popular with your consumer base and

response times ranged from immediate to many days is an

responding accordingly in full view of their community.

indication of the failure of many to follow good practice. The

Reaching out to consumers through the channels they are

findings are essential reading for any retailer interested in

comfortable with, directing them to more traditional channels

world-class service and are available in a free concise report at

if required. Online buzz monitoring & reporting. Automated collation of

There’s no excuse

online, social commentary which can prioritise comments

The concept for the numero business came from a poor

about your brand; allowing you to focus your time on the

customer service experience I had with an international bank.

most extreme or most influential discussions. Sentiment

Many years, thousands of users and over a million software

analysis allows you to track perception of your brand

development hours later and I know for certain that no large


retailer has any valid reason for not supporting the multi-channel preferences of today’s consumer by delivering new services

New & emerging mobile technologies. Location services

which integrate their businesses to provide a superlative

facilitate delivery of information relevant to the user’s location.

consumer experience. And yet, many are blinded by perceived

Using smartphone cameras to scan barcodes or interpret text

problems relating to IT systems compatibility, existing processes

to reduce transaction time and make consumers’ lives easier.

or compliance requirements. That’s why I believe it is necessary

Near-field communications standard allows users to make

to tackle the doom merchants and naysayers with hard facts,

payments or repeat orders with their phone at the PoS.

evidence and a clear approach on how to achieve these aspirations. In numero’s case, this translates to a service called numero

Text shopping. SMS shopping that includes the facility for consumers to check stock availability by sending a simple text

act which examines, tests and quantifies the business case for

message, then reserve items for collection from their preferred

change, then makes this a contractual commitment to delivering


that and more. Add to this a highly configurable technology platform, built on open standards, that seamlessly integrates

360 degree view of the customer. However they choose

with existing systems and there really is no excuse for inertia or

to communicate, consumer records show all their dialogue

a second best consumer experience.

in a single customer record, along with an audit trail linked to

All of this is available today and proven in many differing scenarios that confirm the future is now.

their trading history - all created automatically and accessible from a single screen, without the need for an expensive CRM solution.

This is what the new world looks like Consumers are embracing technology and communicating

Fuller check-out baskets by behaviour. Intelligent interpretation

as they please which, combined with services and systems

of the consumer’s activity (whether browsing online stores or

that make everything possible, creates the potential for a very

enquiring by phone) to personalise individual offers as the

exciting approach to retailing that’s fit for today, tomorrow and

consumer engages to encourage up and cross selling.

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Automated, personalised response. Emails, web forms, texts,

Automatic information serving to contact centre agents so they

document and IVR enquiries are intelligently interpreted and

don’t need to spend time looking for key information but can

follow-up action determined and directed automatically to

instead spend time deepening client engagement.

ensure a fast, efficient and personalised response.

First steps & further reading Constant proactive satisfaction surveys via voice, web, email,

The potential created by today’s technology savvy consumers

text and chat channels with the results appended to customer

is too significant for any serious retailer to ignore. However, it

records to provide a complete view of the customer journey and

represents a journey on which quick wins, long-term goals

the consumer’s ongoing satisfaction - with all this information

and multiple milestones can be achieved. Based on our work

associated with comprehensive real-time analytics.

with leading retailers and other organisations, the best starting point is to understand the potential then establish the

Dynamic customer messaging based on automatic event alerts to

priority actions.

keep the customer fully informed at all stages of their journey, thereby ensuring they do not have to contact their retailer unnecessarily in relation to common queries such as ‘where is my contains articles and links to all

order’, ‘cancel my order’, ‘can I have a refund’ and so on.

the findings referenced in this report along with background

Dynamic returns processing to replace complex and costly returns

Please feel free to take a look or call on our experience to

processes and to reduce shipping and labour costs in the process.

inspire change.

on the obligation-free numero act engagement process.




Social media, smartphone

Jenny is impatient and simply moves on if

& non-verbal

she doesn't get a reply to the messages she frequently sends. She has little time for brands that don't speak her language or belong to her world.

Email, smartphone & verbal

If Mike doesn't get a timely reply to his written communiqués he will go online and call at unusual hours. He always expects you to 'know who he is'.

Landline, written correspondence

Because Barry is uncomfortable with technology & he needs you to 'do it now', otherwise he doesn't believe it will happen. Avoid self-service for Barry as he'll simply go elsewhere.

Landline, websites, email & written correspondence

Anne always does everything right and will make it known to the highest authority when things go wrong. She is time-consuming to take care of as everything comes in chapter and verse.

See for full profiles and other consumer segments including the DIY Digital Dude and the Grumpy Old Man.

06 RS February - March 2011

Customers are evolving  

This month's Retail Systems features an article from numero CEO Guy Colclough.