The disruption of the Covid-19 epidemic could actually present retailers with long-term opportunities, as it has forced them to hasten their journey towards a genuine omni-channel approach and speed up the personalisation of their digital channels.

Those are the main conclusions of Retail Rebound – a panel sponsored by Criteo – at The Drum’s Digital Summit and involving lively conversation between Specsavers’ marketing and e-commerce director, Chris Carter, and Criteo’s UK country manager, Marc Ó Fathaigh. They discussed the need to be genuinely agile and operate at unprecedented speeds while acknowledging that a host of new competitors have now entered the retail space.

Watch the full panel session here

For the first time ever, over 30% of all UK commerce will be digital this year, compared to 21% in 2019. This, according to Carter, means all marketers now have to think omni-channel – not just digital marketers. The biggest shift in focus this approach requires is how to identify customers as they move online.

“It’s very easy to give consumers a great experience in-store and then treat them like a stranger as soon as they visit your website,” Carter says, stressing the need to build a user-friendly customer identifier process into the experience to help build personalised pages. Citing Amazon, Spotify and Netflix as standard-bearers of personalisation, he adds: “Every time you go onto these sites it’s a completely different homepage and different from everyone else’s you’ve ever seen. They know exactly who you are.” Retail is a long way