We all ‘get’ retail. You may not think of yourself as an expert, but as a consumer, each and every one of us knows the difference between good and bad retailing.
Myself and other members of Capgemini Consulting UK’s graduate programme (the Consultant Development Community, ‘CDC’) find ourselves in a unique position of having a greater level of understanding of the digital world than some of our more senior counterparts. With the internet, mobile phones, social media etc. having been part of our lives from a very early age, we tend to be amongst the first to know about the newest technology, updated features and many other digital tools which can have a very real impact on how retailers interact with their customers. These insights allow members of the CDC to make a significant impact every day on client site.
We all shop, and the majority of us love to shop. Whether it’s for next season’s wardrobe, the latest gadget or a simple weekly shop from the local supermarket, our lasting perception of a retailer comes from our experience of the shopping journey, regardless of which channel we choose to purchase through.
Herein lies the million dollar question: why do people shop where they do? There is no absolute answer to this. Many argue that it comes down to brand loyalty. To others, it’s to do with convenience or price. Whatever the reason may be, with the rise of the online retail market, the high street is falling behind. The number of UK retail stores is predicted to drop from over 280,000 to 220,000 over the next five years if current trends continue[1], and retailers are doing all they can to stay alive.
It makes sense, then, that retailers are increasingly shifting their focus towards the customer; to truly put them in the middle of the shopping experience. One way of doing this is to provide first-rate Customer Relationship Management. For example, UK supermarket group Morrisons has recently completed the first phase of its strategy to strengthen customer focus with the implementation of a new multi-channel Customer Relationship Management (CRM) capability in collaboration with Capgemini UK plc[2]. This project provides plenty of opportunities for CDCers to get involved in this interesting and evolving field.
Several of Capgemini’s key capabilities were utilised during the implementation of the advanced Salesforce-based system, from solution architect to business design consultants, service management to business analytics. So where does a CDCer fit within this? Along with other members of the CDC, I was involved in the design and build of the solution, gaining important experience not only in multi-channel, retail and systems implementation, but also insight into large-scale programme management and invaluable knowledge gained from senior colleagues. Areas for CDC input continue to emerge, with graduates already involved in the development of our new ‘All Channel Experience’ offering, which continues to rethink how retailers connect with customers:

With the online retail market in the UK set to grow from just over €45 billion in 2013 to over €64 billion in 2017[3], we can be sure that we will continue to see retailers making significant changes in the way they view and interact with consumers. As a result, it is critical that we have the right set of expertise to help retailers keep ahead of the competition. Graduates are crucial to this work and can contribute to project delivery in many ways. This could include supporting key design workshops, working with stakeholders to manage a number of important business documents (such as the requirements register on a large scale IT programme, change impact assessments, Target Operating Models, risk and issues registers), assisting with the preparation and delivery of training, as well as a vast array of other activities.
As a final thought, what will perhaps be most interesting is not how the eCommerce space changes, but in fact how our high streets change. Whether the peril of ‘showrooming’ will kill the high street, or additional services such as Click & Collect and Convenience will drive footfall into stores, only time will tell. It is safe to say, however, that Capgemini’s graduates will be involved throughout the entire journey.

[1] Source: ‘Online retailing will carry on hitting high streets’, 28th May 2013 http://www.eadt.co.uk/business/uk_online_retailing_will_carry_on_hitting_high_streets_says_report_1_2213250
[2] Source: ‘Morrisons strengthens customer focus with advanced CRM capability from Capgemini’, 16th May 2013 http://www.uk.capgemini.com/morrisons-strengthens-customer-focus-with-advanced-crm-capability-from-capgemini
[3] Source: Forrester Research Online Retail Forecast, 2012 to 2017 (Western Europe)