Tesco, the large British retailer, recently announced one of the largest losses in British corporate history recently. Much of the loss was attributable to property write downs as a result of a recognition of changing consumer shopping habits the retailer had failed to adapt to in recent years. The company has new leadership which is orchestrating a turnaround.
Donal MacDaid, in Talking Retail, summarized the key observation from the new Chief Executive:
Chief executive Dave Lewis commented today that it [Tesco] has spent the last six months putting the customer back at the centre of everything they do – which begs the question, how had they allowed themselves to take their proverbial eye off the customer ball?
Tesco, like all great retailers, rose over the decades by keeping its eye very focused ont he customer’s needs and shifts. Former Tesco CEO, Sir Terry Leahy, who grew the retailer into the world’s third largest, echoed the company’s issues a few months ago when he said the company had lost on its customer base and its strengths.
From the biggest to the smallest retailer, aligning an understanding of your customer and your brand’s strengths is the key to retail success. What the Tesco situation teaches is no retailer can think they’ve figured out their customers once and for all. Constant vigilance is required to recognize and adjust to changing customer behavior.
At Q, we believe the easiest way for retailers to keep their customer at the center is to consistently engage with them throughout their purchase and experience journey. Saying thank you to buyers on a personal level and checking in on their purchases and their experiences with your products is an easy, but effective way to maintain that engagement and see trouble before it leads to major losses.