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Customer focus is the key to survival

27 February, 2009
Page 8 

Having a clear vision of your customers and what they want, together with the flexibility to innovate, are the two keys to surviving the recession, says KPMG/Synovate Retail Think Tank's latest white paper.

Synovate retail psychologist Dr Tim Denison said retailers may never be the same again: "Following top-to-bottom reviews of their businesses nothing will be left unquestioned or remain sacrosanct. Carrying less stock and refreshing product offers more often will put new focus on buyer-supplier relationships. Liquidating slow-moving stock more quickly and frequently will become increasingly common practice. New emphasis may also be seen on local sourcing, bolstering range dynamism and variety, guarding against weak exchange rates and fulfilling green ambitions."

Denison predicted that shopping habits would change too: "There may be fewer purchases and smaller basket sizes but some people will decide to shop and spend less often so valuing trips more than they have done over the past decade."

The Think Tank members agreed that more enjoyment from fewer experiences could lead to a rebirth of customer service excellence. They said 'me too' was no longer good enough, meaning retailers will need to "recognise and exercise their source of competitive advantage, be it based on superior position, skills or resources".