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World Retail Congress 2010 Day 2

Through major changes in technology and post-recession consumption patterns the retail industry is undergoing a number of game-changing shifts that will dramatically affect how it operates in the future. By Glynn Davis in Berlin


World Retail Congress 2010 Day 2

Speaking at the World Retail Congress 2010 in Germany today, Ian Cheshire, group chief executive of Kingfisher, told delegates that the retail industry was changing in a number of ways and that these will have a long-lasting impact on retailers. 

He cited technology – specifically the penetration of high speed broadband and growth in smart-phones – as the first game-changer that was affecting how consumers are interacting with merchants.
“We’ve been the editor of choice [on products] but we’re about to see a more collaborative approach between retailers and consumers. Our customers are talking about the kitchen they’ve just fitted and they like to share this. People are still looking for the human experience but in different ways. This leads to a fundamental change to our processes,” explains Cheshire.

He also believes that in the West and the US the consumer is behaving very differently in the post-recessionary environment. “Over 2004 to 2008 there was a debt binge. But we’ve seen people pull back from this and their attitude to debt and spending has changed. It’s been a wake-up call and people now question the endless consumption for consumption’s sake. There is now a more responsible, lower-impact, consumption maybe,” suggests Cheshire.

To enable Kingfisher to react to these changing consumption patterns it is committed to utilising customer data, which Cheshire says, provides it with the necessary insight on customer behaviour:  “I’d like to know our customers better and to respond. Consumers in focus groups will often say one thing [and do another thing] so follow the money, follow the customer data.”

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