Challenging the retail status quoBY Katherine Mechanicos
As the retail landscape evolves with the rising of customer expectations, retailers are increasingly finding it hard to carve out their competitive edge.
The rise in e-commerce and the transition into mobile commerce (m-commerce) means retailers are no longer just competing with similar stores down the road, in the same city, or even in the same country. Now, retailers are faced with the likes of global retail giants and marketplaces like Amazon as well as fast-moving retail start-ups who challenge the status quo while elevating the customer experience to new heights.
While it’s tempting for some to ignore this seismic shift, Sheeda Cheng, Head of Brand and Public Relations at Neopost Shipping, believes a better way forward would be for retailers to educate themselves on how they can use technology to be more competitive in such a saturated market.
“It’s important for retailers to be bold with their use of retail technology and e-commerce tools to ensure their brand stays relevant for consumers at scale,” Sheeda said.
“Retailers need to be thinking about how these technologies can improve their supply chain to drive more value and convenience for their customers.”
Starting out as the APAC Marketing Manager at Temando in 2016, Sheeda progressed as the global Head of Brand and PR for its parent company Neopost Shipping, collaborating with a growing global marketing team that includes regional and corporate marketers in the United States, United Kingdom, Paris, Netherlands and Australia to drive brand awareness across existing and new markets.
Having a Bachelor of Communications in Public Relations and a Diploma in Fashion Design, it’s only natural that Sheeda gravitated towards retail. Although Neopost Shipping is the first e-commerce technology multinational company that Sheeda has worked for, Sheeda brings almost seven years of B2B technology experience.
Sheeda believes technology can level the playing field for retailers who compete in a world where global companies such as Amazon and Walmart currently dominate.
“Technology - when harnessed correctly - is a powerful equaliser, as it can drive innovative customer experiences and enhance retail operations,” Sheeda said.
Although some may perceive technology as robotic in nature, Sheeda believes e-commerce tools humanise existing processes by simply making it easier for retailers to connect with consumers.
“The magic of retail technology is that it drives human connections. For example, with a number of retailers offering ‘cart to customer’ value propositions through business mailing solutions like Neopost Shipping, retailers can curate a delivery experience that puts customer experience (CX) at the heart of each shipping and fulfillment touchpoint,” Sheeda said.
According to market research company, Statista, global e-commerce sales will account for $2.8 trillion this year. With only 37.4% of users currently using e-commerce, Sheeda is confident that retailers now have the perfect window of opportunity to pave their way to success. She believes retailers who tap into technology and offer a great and consistent post-purchase experience, will not only drive conversion but build positive sentiment and customer loyalty.
In addition to this, Sheeda is seeing an increased number of retailers communicating with their customers on shipping status, offering various delivery options for online orders, and implementing solutions like Click & Collect to improve profit margins and revenue.
“Retailers no longer have to compromise on their brand promise at the final stage of a customer’s journey, they can now offer unique delivery options and improve customer service with personalised tracking communications, and be more environmentally friendly with three-dimensional packaging that reduces cardboard waste and strengthens consumer sentiment,” Sheeda said.
While Sheeda believes that retailers can benefit exponentially with the use of a diverse range of retail technologies, she also believes diversity in the workplace has a huge impact on profit margins.
According to Deloitte, inclusive workplaces are six times more likely to be innovative and agile, and two times more likely to meet or exceed financial targets.
“I would love to see the retail industry support diversity at both an Executive and Board level on a more consistent basis to tap into the broad range of skills, experience, and perspectives that a group of diverse leaders can use to drive transformational change within an organisation,” Sheeda said.
Creating a diverse work culture, being transparent and cultivating real relationships with consumers is key in today’s retail market and Sheeda believes technology solutions like Neopost shipping can unlock this value for retailers across the country.
“We’re now living in a world where we have so many options available to us so it’s important that retailers harness these opportunities instead of letting them pass by.”
For more information on Sheeda’s success and technology insights look out for the Australian Retailers Association’s Women in Retail Series or visit retail.org.au/womeninretail
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Katherine is the Brand and Communications Manager at the Australian Retailers Association.