The ‘Next’ generation of retail

Hi everyone

It was with some interest this morning that I read about Next’s plans to shift its focus to growing its business online. High street retailers have historically sought to differentiate themselves by providing great, in-person customer service; but Next’s new focus on online expansion certainly puts a new slant on its more infamous summer of boxing day ‘Next Sale’ to rewards its customers.

It got me thinking, with the growth of web 2.0 innovations such as rich video and social media clearly changing the way we shop, is online the future of retail? After all, surely if the fashion industry is taking heed (and don’t they always lead the pack?) won’t other industries follow suit? In fact, could it actually be the other way round. We’re all pretty well adjusted to buying our groceries, our DVDs and music online but when we chose our clothing, don’t we want to try things on? Feel the material. Check the cut?

Two things changed my mind. Or rather, two businesses. A Suit That fits, an online tailors that lets you do everything from measure yourself using clever online technology to selecting colours and materials when choosing a suit and Glasses Direct, an online spectacles retailer that allows you to use webcams to ‘virtually’ try on frames and have them superimposed onto your face so you can achieve exactly the same experience as you would in store.

More interestingly, both of these companies where crowned Customer Kings in 2009 and 2010 respectively. A competition to find the most customer focused companies in the UK.  So perhaps an online presence is also rapidly becoming a business’ best method of engaging with and retaining its customers?

According to our Customer Kings report, which examined attitudes to customer service in the UK, 64 percent of businesses think web-based retailers provide “great or excellent” customer service. With high street retailers scoring below 50 percent, it is clear that online retail is increasingly leading the way when it comes to customer service. Waiting in the rain on the first day of the January sales seems to be, understandably, coming a distant second place to 24 hour shopping from the comfort of your own home as early as boxing day; a trend which shows no sign of going away as technologies continue to develop and businesses continue to improve their online customer service.


One Response

  1. […] as relatively risk-free route to growth. These days, more and more businesses are focusing on developing their online presence and many start up’s begin with an online shop […]

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