Retailing at Goodyear Dunlop’s ‘State of the Nation 2015’ conference
James Woudhuysen is interviewed about future trends in retailing by Ron Pike, Promotions & Events Manager at Goodyear Dunlop, at the final session of the Goodyear Dunlop State of the Nation 2015 conference.
During this conversation, James conveyed to the audience that a successful retailing strategy needs to combine consideration of the specific needs and expectations of customers, the current economic context, emerging trends and the need for experimentation. Such a strategy also needs to consider how these issues will evolve over a 5 to 10 year period and what the company needs to do as a consequence.
Pricing within a retailing strategy is the first challenge explored. Market volatility, low inflation – even deflation – and a possible end to the certainty of fixed price goods present new challenges. A key impact of all of this will fall upon staff and Ron and James discussed what this might mean in terms of skills and training.
The second issue, and one that is a challenge for the whole retail sector, is the dramatic increase in the use of mobile devices. ‘Mobile first’, James suggested, should be at the heart of a retailing strategy. Websites and content need to be adaptable and responsive to the many different devices likely to come on stream over the next few years. The nature of Goodyear Dunlop products also suggests key content that needs to be right for their customers:
- Location – their customers need to be able to find outlets, and quickly, and further, they are likely to want to speak to someone so Goodyear Dunlop will need to facilitate an instant phone connection
- Data visualisation – how do you do this for compressed formats?
Another general challenge for retailing is payment method. Goodyear Dunlop customers often need to make a purchase in haste – known in the trade as ‘distress purchasing’. There is also a year on year shift towards electronic payment methods. There are a range of such options now being used, with new ones in development. Goodyear Dunlop will need to carefully select the ones the majority of their customers prefer to use and which may be the only option they have in a crisis.
A new and important trend, which raises some interesting questions for Goodyear Dunlop, is how customer expectations and attitudes are changing. The majority of people purchasing tyres in the past tended to be men. Men’s attitude to purchasing has been influenced by their greater exposure to a range of shopping experiences, for example, when they accompany their wives or girlfriends. Women are also having a more direct influence on retail trends resulting from an increase in their purchasing power and their range of old and newer experiences such as child care, shopping, driving and their use of social media and participation in online networks. A tyre retailer, such as Goodyear Dunlop, would do well to consider how this activity could be changing the expectations of their customers and how issues such as the ambience, hygiene and safety may impact on their points of sale.
A related and important issue is lighting. How effective is the lighting at night when someone needs to get a new tyre? Ambience and design can be improved very effectively with considered use of LED lighting. Such lighting can also be much cheaper in the long run and can be adapted within varied conditions.
Opening hours may also need to be more flexible and reflect the times when customers may need to make a purchase. If a Goodyear Dunlop outlet were not open, where might customers go instead – elsewhere perhaps?
Such thinking about general trends in shopping and the specifics of the product one wishes to sell suggests many possible directions that a retailing strategy could go. There are no guarantees of success but there is need for a lot more research and development. It won’t be got right first time but experimentation, as advocated by the Harvard Business Review, is the approach we all should be encouraging.
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