What Now for Retail and Banking?

The rapid twists and turns of this 2020 helter-skelter has challenged business to redefine its operational model. We compare the fortunes of two evolving sectors — finance and retail — and ask, “what now?”

As government interventions come to an end business must radically reform to avoid an economic bloodbath. Is a better future visible through the shifting kaleidoscope of consumer trends, rising overheads and digital transformation?


Let’s split this into two broad retail categories – food and non-food. The food/grocery sector remained open throughout the pandemic overcoming workforce, logistics and supply chain issues with admirable ease. Their stock rose with the public and the markets as they kept the show on the road and avoided shortages. However, the need to follow through on the expansion of their online retail business is now critical. Digital-only challengers such as Ocado and supergiants Amazon lack the bricks-and-mortar millstone. Yet, this is also their Achilles heel as they lack retail roots in the community and the convenience factor.

What are the top challenges and opportunities for food retailers now?

  1. Digital and Customer Loyalty: Cohesion across physical and digital stores smooths the customer experience and consolidates brand loyalty. Your developers and designers need to work as one to create a harmonious customer journey and express the brand values.
  2. Data Driven Decisions: Great decisions are based on great data in the world of digital. From outbound campaigns to consumer behaviour and shopping patterns. Your database is your goldmine. Access, analyse and act.
  3. Workforce Skills: If they’re experts in your business, know your customer and understand supply chain logistics they are invaluable. Retain business intelligence and save time and money by up-skilling your workforce with digital skills.

Non-food Retail

In stark contrast the shutters fell almost immediately on the non-food retail sector. Furloughed workers and job losses were rife in retail. Changing customer behaviours, reduced footfall and costly safety measures have impacted reopening. These factors, combined with soaring commercial rents have driven several large retailers out of the space. This will undoubtedly change the face of the high-street forever.

However, despite reduced consumer confidence shoppers have begun to return albeit virtually. This shift had already begun but demand for online shopping accelerated rapidly since lockdown. So, what do retailers need in their armoury to respond to behavioural changes and regain market share?

  1. Social and Personal: Use digital strategies that create a strong personal connection with consumers. Promotions tailored to consumers behaviours are the most successful in generating sales and loyalty. This requires a sophisticated digital marketing and social promotion strategy and a consolidated analytics view.
  2. Seamless Service: Fully integrate all customer touch-points to create a seamless service journey. Create an enticing virtual store experience with expert user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) techniques. Integrate great data-capture, painless transaction process and superior customer service across your digital apps.
  3. Mining the Data: Uncover the gems in the data that give you the predictive analytics to preempt consumer behaviour. This enables powerful marketing strategies and targeted sales campaigns.


Digital regeneration in consumer banking has been slow and fitful. Legacy technology systems that are barely on speaking terms; a workforce built around the high-street model and the regulatory process inhibit rapid change. However, this has left the gate open to digital banks. They have stormed through, driving innovation and capturing the hearts and the wallets of a new generation.

As a result, the trend of high job losses looks set to continue. However, this results in the loss of valuable business intelligence. Meanwhile, banks are working with external consultants and developers with limited insights into banking practices and the resulting products are not always customer friendly .

So, how can consumer banks accelerate transformation?

  1. Card is King: The decline in cash usage which was already well underway has sped up with the increase in contactless payment and the higher transaction value permitted. Similarly, the growth in online shopping will intensify digital transactions. However, mobile apps are fast replacing cards. This shifts much of the front-office operation to back-office. Therefore, the emphasis has to be on technical roles in customer support, payment processing and product development.
  2. Talent is Titanium: During transition key talent can be lost. However, when you loose crucial business intelligence transformation becomes clunky and inefficient. Instead, assess and train key talent to fill these new tech-facing roles. Retain their expertise and make digital transformation customer centred and efficient.
  3. Perfect the Product: Deliver the best customer journey possible. There are too many great alternatives for people to stick with second rate digital experiences and rubbish apps. Get the UX, CX and UI right or people will walk. Therefore, your software developers and dev-ops teams must collaborate to create perfect products. This is the point where customer knowledge meets developer expertise, make sure they speak the same language.

So, What Now for Retail and Banking?

To find out how you can get your retail or banking team on the road to digital up-skilling that will accelerate your digital transformation download our brochure.

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