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Heading for a Recessional Peak?

How an Exceptional Customer Experience Can Help

Summer 2022 is breaking records in the UK, and not just for soaring temperatures. With inflation on the rise, households are facing unprecedented hikes in the cost of their energy, fuel and food. Britain’s consumer prices rose by 7.0%* in the 12 months to March 2022 (a 30-year high), whilst the Bank of England is predicting inflation to spike at over 10%* later this year, causing a sharp economic slowdown or even a possible recession.

In the shadow of these price increases and gloomy forecasts, consumers are already tightening their belts. According to the ONS, “around 60% of adults report spending less on non-essential items in response to rising costs.” So, as household budgets are squeezed and we head for autumn peak, should retailers be concerned about losing valuable customers and a drop-off in demand for their products?

Take a closer look at the data and the picture is mixed. While the ONS sees more of us spending less, Barclaycard reported a year-on-year increase of 11.6% in overall non-essential spend in May 22. As expenditure on some items dropped significantly (eg furniture purchases fell by -25.4% and outdoor retail by -19.6%), other categories remained buoyant. Clothing sales grew by 5.6% and spend on pharmacy, beauty and health products increased by 1% with a 13% rise in transactions.

According to Helen Dickinson, CEO of the British Retail Consortium, while retailers are anticipating a bumpy ride, consumer demand is set to continue:

“The rising cost of living is one of the biggest concerns for retailers right now. The whole industry is trying to keep up with fluctuations in the market, while keeping costs down for consumers as they feel the squeeze. Nonetheless, most consumers are still looking for good-quality products that have been sourced responsibly – although these must still be at a reasonable price.”

So with a large question-mark hanging over consumer spend for the coming months, how do brands plan for peak? Will demand be choked by dwindling disposable incomes or can year-on-year sales buck the trend with healthy growth across premium and sustainable beauty, wellbeing and fashion lines?

Of one thing we can be 100% sure, in an inflationary economy, customer retention is a must-have. Brands simply cannot afford to lose valued customers by compromising on fair pricing, product quality or service. Once lost, rebuilding customer trust can be a protracted, uphill, high-cost process. Keeping customers happy and loyal is all-important as the purse-strings of UK consumers tighten.

At ILG, we’ve traded through a fair few economic highs and lows over the past 32 years. But through all the ups and downs, we’ve always focused on creating a positive, brand-building fulfilment experience. We know that in the e-commerce space, consumers judge brands on their ability to fulfil orders effectively. To get the fulfilment process perfect from a customer viewpoint, it has to be meticulously managed, from the point of website checkout to doorstep delivery. That’s why we invest in the best people, technology and facilities to make certain customers enjoy their purchase journey, stay brand-loyal and are more inclined to repeat-buy.

None of us can influence whether a recession happens, or how a downturn could impact order values and volumes across this autumn’s peak-period and beyond. What we can do is ensure our order fulfilment is high-quality, relentlessly efficient and experientially on-brand. That way our customers will stay with us, whether the economic climate is hot or cold.

*Reuters

Look out for our next blog: ‘How To Improve Your Fulfilment Experience Over Peak’

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