Tesco CEO: How retail can win in a digital world

Philip Clarke on the challenges of online retail; Tesco orders placed on mobile devices double.
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Tesco Group's CEO Philip Clarke says retailers need to work harder than ever to thrive in an increasingly digital-focused market.

Clarke was speaking at the World Retail Congress in London yesterday. His talk, 'Winning customers in a world of change', was transcribed and uploaded to the Tesco blog.

"Today, I want to focus on one aspect of change and the challenge it poses," he said. "How do we win in a digital world, at a time of great economic upheaval?

"My argument, put simply, is this: right now the tectonic plates are shifting. Customers are navigating a highly volatile landscape. 

"On the one hand, new technology means that they have more choice, more power, and more control than ever before. But at the same time, particularly in the developed economies, they are under enormous financial pressure.

"The result is that people are asking tough questions of retailers. They want to know:do we understand what matters? How will we help them? Are we part of the problem, or part of the solution? In other words: are we on their side?

He added: "In this new landscape, it is not enough to win new customers. We need to work harder than ever to earn their trust and loyalty. Critically, people don’t want us simply to respond to what’s happening. They want us to make a positive difference to the big challenges they face.

"That’s where harnessing the power of digital technology comes in. Digital does not just offer smart new ways to shop. It gives us the opportunity for a warmer, more meaningful conversation with our customers, local communities, our colleagues and the suppliers who we work with. 

"So we need to change the old ways of retail thinking and personalise the retail experience. We need retail which isn’t just built around customers’ lives today –but also how they will live tomorrow."

Clarke went on to talk about Tesco's services and milestones, including the recent opening of the supermarket's 1,000th click and collect collection point.

He also revealed that in the past year, Tesco has seen the number of online orders placed on mobile devices double. 

Clarke also said it's not enough to win new customers in this digital age, but that we all need to work harder to earn their trust and loyalty.

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