Three questions for Mirella Muller

Mirella Muller - President, eRetail & Fashion Sector/Global eCommerce, DHL

1. The changing consumer culture may be tough for traditional retailers to tackle. How would you convince them to see change as an opportunity rather than a threat?

Companies that do not adapt to changing customer requirements are doomed to fail. What made companies successful in the past is not what will make them successful now, or in the future. A mindset/strategy evolution is key. Traditional retailers need to ask themselves: Who are their customers and what do they require? Not all customers want the same things.

Companies may have had more power in the past, but we live in times where the end consumer has the power. There is still a place for traditional retailers who evolve to suit customer requirements. Omnichannel is key, as many customers like to combine on- and offline shopping.

2. How can multichannel and omnichannel approaches to retailing meet the needs of contemporary customers and even exceed their expectations?

It’s about delighting customers by anticipating their wishes. The store is increasingly a place where the customer can experience the product regardless of whether they purchase it there or not. Omnichannel is about providing the flexibility – for example putting clothes I want to try in my shopping basket, booking a fitting room online and then actually going to a physical store to try the merchandise. Maybe I would also have a smart mirror that can recommend complementary garments or accessories to go with what I will be trying on. Ideally, I could do the checkout right in the fitting room and decide if I want to take the merchandise with me directly or have it shipped to my home. Omnichannel is about combining all the options relating to convenience and the brand experience to suit me personally. We see in surveys that what customers most value is personalization combined with convenience.

3. How can logistics help fuel the next generation of retail?

At a share of about 20%, online is already an important portion of retail. Logistics are a key component of online sales and possibly one of the few areas where the end consumers have direct touchpoints with logistics companies. From that perspective, the logistics company also represents the brand and influences the experience the end consumer has with the brand. A study from Metapack showed that more than 80% of people perceive delivery as part of their online shopping experience, highlighting how important it is for a brand to partner with the right logistics provider. On the other hand, the logistics linked to online sales are more expensive – especially in the area of fashion, where return rates are higher than 50% and many customers order multiple sizes of an item with the intention of returning some of them. Shipping to homes, return shipping and the quick management of getting returned goods back into inventory is expensive and poses a big challenge, as customers often expect free delivery and returns. Having the right logistics partner is key for brands to ensure great service, quality and brand perception for their end consumers. The right logistics partner can support fast and efficient inventory management and ensure as little as possible obsolescence of inventory. Logistics is no longer a support function, it’s a critical competitive advantage for any company.

Published: June 2020

Image: DHL