What Separates Successful Retailers from Others?
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What Separates Successful Retailers from Others?

By Richard Flint, COO & Executive Board, HEMA

In the light of your experience what are the technological trends and challenges you’ve witnessed happening in the E-commerce space?

In the highly-competitive market that we have today, the only key to sustenance is unceasing evolution. As such, the retail landscape is no different; it's becoming vital for physical retailers to move to truly omnichannel retail. And while this can mean stimulating growth opportunities, it can also present challenges for retailers. Being globally present allows us to provide omnichannel experiences in a better way. With 50 per cent click and collect rate our stores, we are able to fulfill the needs of a consumer in a local town as well in a huge city. So at the end of the day, keeping the customer journey simple but well linked is critical. So in HEMA, customers can buy and return in-store, and also use our online store to perform actions. This brings me on to the second challenge, which I think is brands that are having the hardest time in keeping their low price products profitable. Getting the pricing strategy right will solve a lot of problems that your businesses are facing, while on the contrary, getting them wrong will bring in losses that are non-recoverable. Thus, making the right decisions and constantly re-evaluating the costs will generate good profit margins. So, E-commerce companies and online retailers who are able to solve these challenges will be the only ones who will survive.

What according to you is a viable methodology/strategy to ensure that the existing system promises to deliver to their full potential?

We have re-platformed our e-commerce site last year and have spent a lot of time in testing to ensure that every element in the journey such as the landing page, new category pages, PDP’s (Product Detail Page), imagery, on body photography, and checkout and payments are user-friendly. We've now offered more and faster payment solutions relative to every market which we trade. One of the other main things that we focus on is meeting our consumer demands; which actually drives the business.

How would you see the evolution a few years from now with regard to disruptions and transformations within the arena?

We will get stagnated if we continue to provide our main platform only in Holland. In the near future, we will need to go on to marketplaces that we are in extensive talks about right now. This includes many countries in other continents because we have seen such demand for HEMA and they move around, not only from our Dutch Benelux consumers, but globally. So we're definitely looking at our own dot.com site to be delivered as a service, and the marketplace is still a base. The future e-commerce space belongs neither to pure e-commerce players nor brick and mortar stores; it’s all about how we can directly connect with our customers.

What are some of the common misconception in the E-commerce space? How do you advise peers accordingly?

One of the misconceptions is to believe that only e-commerce drives the business. That’s not true; it is about driving both digital as well as brick and mortar stores. Businesses which relied only on the e-commerce channel, most of them have gone out of business. So I think we have to think about how our online channel helps drive our offline channel. This is applicable, for whenever it is a physical store or online, we see it as just one brand co-operation between online and physical stores.

What would be the single piece of advice that you could impart to other retailers to excel in this space?

I believe that one has to focus on omnichannel strategy. Even customers have expanded their horizon of choices and preferences. Creating an effective omnichannel experience may require retailers to revamp their infrastructure in which they operate. At HEMA we have been doing it with respect to currently where are our stores located, their proximity such that they are near our customers, and what’s new that's coming in and how we can leverage it.

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