Retail the UK’s leading industry for digital experience

25 April 2023 3 min. read
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They UK’s businesses are ahead of the curve, when it comes to enhancing their digital experience with social media use, according to a new survey. The retail sector was found to offer the most mature digital experience offering found in the British economy.

According to analysis from Statista, between June 2017 and July 2020, the number of digital customer interactions with brand touchpoints tripled, from 20% to nearly 60%. In other words, the start of the pandemic saw the need to develop top-notch digital customer experience accelerate by three years. In the years since, this shows no signs of slowing down – as even while bricks-and-mortar stores have re-opened, many behaviours learned during the lockdown months linger among consumers.

In order to showcase the best practices regarding digital experience, and where improvement is most needed, BearingPoint UK has polled 77 companies across the banking, energy, insurance, retail fashion, retail non-food, retail food and telco sectors. The study found that of all industries, retail currently leads the way.

Digital performance by industry

BearingPoint surveyed respondents on their offerings in digital marketing; digital product experience; e-commerce; and E-CRM. Scoring respondents according to their answers, BearingPoint attributed each firm, and ultimately their sector, a score out of five. Leading this charge was non-food retail – with a score of 3.43. This represents an improvement of 0.16 on last year’s score, which also saw the sector offer the best digital experience.

The sector included AO Retail – which received the highest maturity score of any UK firm. In particular, its digital marketing footprint helped engage with customers, with a clear link to products and services on a lower budget. This was a running theme for the wider non-food retail segment, however, which scored 3.69 for its digital marketing efforts.

Stuart Higgins, Partner at BearingPoint, said, “UK retail has really driven digital success once again and managed to take the UK to second place globally in our annual digital rankings. AO Retail scored particularly highly for search engine marketing, affiliate marketing, and the product and store information available - all scoring the maximum of 5.0 out of 5.0. AO’s digital marketing really stood out with content focused on energy efficient appliances with a clear link to their services and product, which was delivered through various social media platforms.”

We notice that in the UK, social platforms are increasingly being used to engage with customers. We observe an increase in the use of Twitter for customer service and an increase in the use of Instagram for advertising

Other UK businesses are taking note of the success that this strategy is bringing non-food retailers. While the other countries in the survey were more hesitant to make social media part of their customer experience, UK firms seem very willing to tap into the technology.

For example, while 54% of global firms said they used Twitter to supply instant customer service, that rose to 87% among UK respondents. Meanwhile, 90% of UK firms used Instagram for marketing, compared to 79% of global firms. These platforms are – currently – free to use, and are places many consumers already find themselves on a daily basis – making them an easier way to integrate shopping into their other activities.

These also help firms meet the five key success factors for digital leaders which BearingPoint highlighted. These were putting customers at the centre of value propositions; generating a positive emotional response through all customer interactions; delivering value with a suite of advanced technology that leverages data centricity; innovating in all aspects of the ecosystem; and integrating ethics, sustainability, and a broad worldview in day-to-day activities.