Clare Cryer is Chief Growth Officer at retail technology agency Outform. I caught up with Clare to find out more about her role, as well as other topics including technology and personalisation in retail.
Tell me about your role – what does a typical day look like for you?
I oversee growth at Outform, so as well as bringing new brands and retailers on board, I also lead our high-performing teams across three disciplines – insight, technology and creative – and mesh them together so we can deliver standout solutions to clients.
Unofficially, I’m a really big advocate for inclusion at Outform. I’ve seen the damage that loud and hyper-masculine environments do to businesses and people, and my goal is to make sure everyone feels they belong.
What are the key elements of a successful omnichannel strategy – where should brands be focusing?
Start with understanding each customer’s search, shop and share journey, primarily by connecting data across online and offline channels. We’ve got more choices than ever when it comes to discovery and purchase, so our habits are less predictable. Combining, on- and offline data gives brands and retailers the opportunity to more accurately map a shopper’s footprint and deliver the right content at the right time.
But ensuring omnichannel is a successful long-term strategy also means using it to remove current shopper pain points. In a nutshell, it’s about bringing our online expectations – which have ramped up massively in the past two years – into offline settings.
Can you give me some examples of retailers that are using in-store technology in an effective way?
Better personalisation is becoming a big focus in retail. H&M’s first tech-enabled store is a great example of this, which includes smart mirrors in fitting rooms with bespoke recommendations.
The humble QR code is also one of the most innovative tools retailers have at their disposal, when it’s used correctly. It became a must-have for safety-conscious shoppers during the pandemic, but forward-thinking brands and retailers are giving it greater value and longevity. For example, fashion brand Gabriella Hearst used it on tags to share the provenance of its materials. Ideal for ethically-minded shoppers.
What do you think are some of the biggest myths about today’s digital consumers?
The biggest myth is that a big chunk of shoppers still aren’t using digital to research and buy products, and that therefore separate spaces are needed for online and offline behaviours. This is self-limiting. Research Outform has carried out found that eight-in-ten shoppers are using phones in-store, so brands and retailers are well positioned to exploit tools such as QR to ensure the purchase journey is just as frictionless as it is online.
What retail trends do you see coming to the forefront in the next 6-12 months and why?
Utility will become a core focus for retail in the coming year. Outform’s study into beauty shoppers found that 63% still want to make a purchase in-store, but there’s going to be a greater onus when it comes to delivering convenient and personalised experiences, such as bespoke recommendations, customer reviews and options to pay instantly – everything that’s available to us online. Bringing this to every shoppable environment is fast becoming the most effective way of clinching shopper loyalty.
What’s next for Outform?
Outform is going to continue helping brands that dare to innovate with turning stores into exciting destinations that match the speed and convenience of online shopping.
The next step to achieving this is delivering contextually relevant content through digital, such as stock inventory information, personalised recommendations and opportunities to purchase, so that shoppers have quick access to data they need to inform their purchase decision. Not only does this improve service to customers, but it’s a more sustainable approach than ripping out in-store designs and wasting materials as we pivot to meet shoppers’ ever-changing expectations.
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