Bell Pottinger and IORMA – Interview with Ian McGarrigle, World Retail Congress

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Bell Pottinger and IORMA – Interview with Ian McGarrigle, World Retail Congress

Ian has over 25 years’ experience working within the UK and international retail sector as a journalist, editor, he helped launch leading UK trade publication Retail Week. In 2007 he launched the World Retail Congress to serve the international retail market. Ian joined the retail team at Bell Pottinger Pelham in 2012 and uses his extensive industry knowledge to provide counsel and strategic direction for key retail clients. He is also Chairman of the World Retail Congress and a Non-Executive Director of Saudi Arabia’s largest food retailer, Azizia Panda.

Reputation management in an Omni world

Is it consumer behaviour or developments in technology driving this new pace and direction in retail?

Although technology is the enabler, it is younger consumers driving change. Suddenly consumers have the choice on how and when they shop. There now exists a generation of consumers who have only known a time where the internet was a viable means to shop – which almost deems all old norms irrelevant.

The pace of change has been staggering – the speed of delivery and even click and collect is only improving – something Tesco has announced its surprise at.

With developments in e-banking, Mobile has become easier and more comfortable to use than ever before. Mobile is the biggest driver of sales and with wearable technology such as the apple watch on the rise we may see an increase in this.

So how tough is it to get an effective Omni strategy right? Actually, very. In fact it’s difficult to point to anyone who truly has it down – JLP and Tesco come close but then there are others like M&S who recently launched an out of date site.

New talent and leadership is required. The wrong kind of decisions are being made at board level – This new talent required may not have the right culture fit but they will know this new consumer and what works in today’s market.

Consistent brand experience needs to be achieved – depending on your consumer, consistency and reliability with both delivery and packaging is becoming increasingly important and noticed. It defines the brand to some and will be remembered.

Retailing in this age of disruption has seen all the norms broken apart. There is no finish line anymore but a need for on-going development instead. With changing talent and leadership we’re seeing a new generation of retailers emerge.

How we interact with other retailers may be the next big change we see. More increasingly consumers don’t want to be ‘owned’ or targeted by multiple retailers but are more likely to nominate one partner to ‘own’ their details and retailers will have to channel through them.

An agile approach needs to be taken into the marketing world. Continuous dialogue with consumers is essential to adapt the organisation to deliver consumer wants and needs. This might result in organisational and structural changes but again, that is what’s required to drive this success.

IBM recently did a study on the importance of a CMO and concluded that within the next two years the CMO will have a bigger budget than the CIO.

Loyalty seems to be the biggest issue we’re facing but indeed how loyal will a customer remain now it’s so easy to shop?


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