Retailers' digital shift keeps shoppers online

Retailers accelerated their digital transformation plans in a "matter of weeks" in a bid to keep customers online during the pandemic, according to new research.

Adobe commissioned research from YouGov among 1,100 senior decision-makers at across UK industries including retail and financial services across the UK about their COVID-19 response, and also research among 2,000 UK consumers to reflect on how effectively firms adapted to the challenges of this year.

Both banks and retailers said they had bolstered their online presence this year, with 21 per cent of financial services organisations and 26 per cent of retail companies rolling out new digital and e-commerce services to prepare for increased demand.

In response to customers needing more ways to manage their money online, banks said they sped up their transformation plans and expanded their digital offering in a “matter of weeks”.

Retailers built up their websites to manage increased traffic, in addition to offering a wider range of delivery models, like Click and Collect, to give customers more flexibility in how they purchase goods.

In addition, 15 per cent of retailers and 23 per cent of financial services companies improved their personalisation capabilities in response to lockdown.

Lee Edwards, vice president for Northern Europe, Middle East and Africa at Adobe, said: “We saw leading banks reach out to vulnerable customers with relevant information at the opportune moment, giving them valuable guidance based on their profile.

“Some institutions, like NatWest, had begun to draw on customer data to personalise their online services before this year, allowing them to tailor their digital experiences to people’s needs from day one of the pandemic.”

More than one-third (35 per cent) of financial institutions and a quarter (26 per cent) of retailers said their online communication with customers improved during the pandemic, which may be due to a more personalised approach.

Most importantly, their customers agreed. Two-thirds (66 per cent) of UK consumers said retailers were able to keep up with changes in people’s use of technology this year, and 71 per cent said the same for banks.

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