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Insight: Arcadia facing the challenge of mobile-first younger shoppers

Younger customers are making life increasingly difficult for retailers like Arcadia that are having to quickly adapt their models to take into account the mobile-first way these individuals now choose to interact with them.

FASHION

Insight: Arcadia facing the challenge of mobile-first younger shoppers

Younger customers are making life increasingly difficult for retailers like Arcadia that are having to quickly adapt their models to take into account the mobile-first way these individuals now choose to interact with them.

Speaking at Retail's Big Show, which is organised by NRF, Jamie Ovenden, director of digital and retail IT at Arcadia, told delegates: "We've [legacy] systems that have grown up with us and we've incorporated mobile into this in maybe not the best way. We've reached peak complexity at a time when our customers are the most demanding."

A growing number of its customers are 'digital natives' who want to interact differently to Millennials, which represents a major challenge because the company has to attempt to be "all things to all people", according to Ovenden. "Mobile penetration is 100% for 16-year-old customers who have no desktop usage. We we need to work out how to be relevant to a 34-year-old Russian as well as a 16-year-old Chilean."

Ovenden shared some statistics that showed: 71% of UK customers visit Arcadia from their mobile device; 51% of customers do not start their visit on the company's home page; and 38% of people visit the company's website from outside the UK.

Because of the demands of the younger customer he revealed that Arcadia was working with geo-location technology to enable them to talk to these individuals as they are on the move ("not tied to their desktops") and to "work out their intent" on them website. These interactions increasingly involve Artificial Intelligence and complex analytics in order to deliver recommendations and degrees of personalisation.

Integral to this ever-closer relationship with younger shoppers is the use of social media, which Ovenden says, involves conversations taking place while the customer is on their mobile: "We'll still get the 34-year-old with their catalogues but for the 16-year-old it is about sharing information [on mobile]."

The interaction with them now involves advanced messaging, personalised recommendations, chat bot-based services, and omni-channel support capabilities. "Mobile is the gateway for these people, it's the funnel for our brand. It's a challenge, and we're not their yet, but we're on the journey," he says.

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