Birtles: Retail challenges for 2013

Customer expectations are rising in relation to price, range, environment and service, so says Peter Birtles.

He is chief executive of Super Retail Group which includes Rebel Sport, Amart Sports, Goldcross Cycles, BCF and Ray’s Outdoors.

Birtles defines “rising customer expectations” as among the key retailing trends of 2013 to the Australian Centre for Retail Studies at Monash University.

Other key retail trends are “ the continued breakdown of the traditional supply chain relationships; with retailers developing more of their private label products and manufacturers are going direct to the customer with their own stores or online sites.”

Plus “the increasing challenge in attracting, engaging and retaining motivated and capable team members,” Birtles told the ACRS publication in a Q&A session.

Asked where he anticipates “your biggest channel growth to come from in the next year, Birtles says, “ In dollar terms this will clearly be the physical store but in percentage terms it will be the online channel.

“Stores will become more of a showroom with a reduced range but more engaging displays – inspiring the customer with solutions and the latest products supported by more accessible information in printed and video format, as well as ready access to online information.

Among key consumer trends: “Consumers are increasingly researching online and through a mobile device before coming into store.

“There is also a growing number of consumers who are relying on social media to gather information or testimonials.

“Customers are also becoming more demanding of service standards and expecting best value,” Birtles tells the ACRS publication 'Retail Insights'.

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