Retailers have gathered in Dublin today to discuss the competitive challenges posed by international online retailers, and how bricks-and-mortar stores must engage in ‘experiential retail’ by diversifying and using the latest technology to engage with customers. Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the sector, brought together industry leading experts at the ‘Exploring Experiential Retail Summit’ at the Guinness Storehouse.
Discussions focused on the role high quality customer experience plays in enabling Irish retailers to differentiate their brand in an increasingly competitive market place, and on how to deliver unforgettable experiences to customers to drive brand loyalty and deliver greater consumer spend.
Speaking at the event, Chairperson of Retail Ireland and Managing Director of BWG Foods, Willie O’Byrne, said: "Research suggests that 75% of total online consumer spend currently leaves Ireland to foreign based websites. The growth of online shopping at the expense of shop visits presents a real threat to Irish retailers, our economic centres and the exchequer. Getting the instore experience right is vital if we are to attract people away from their computers and back into our stores”.
Director of Retail Ireland Thomas Burke said: "Despite the recovery in retail being modest and sales values remaining significantly off their peak, Irish retailers are optimistic about the future. Investing in a greater understating of customers behaviour, using new technologies, improving customer service techniques and an enhanced instore environment, will allow retailers to react appropriately to ever changing patterns in consumer behaviour.
“This year’s budget has put money back into the economy. That will create a boost in consumer spending as we enter the crucial Christmas trading period. It is vital now that this uplift is felt locally and that Irish based retailers benefit from this additional spending. To make this happen, Irish retailers need to create unforgettable experiences to encourage customer visits and increase spending within their stores”, concluded Mr Burke.