Dave Hobday, Managing director of payment processing provider WorldPay.
For many UK retailers, the Christmas trading period was a mixed bag marked by last-minute discounts and success for the online channel.
But before the industry has time to draw breath, there are a number of calendar events during the year that retailers need to capitalise on.
For example, the Spring Festival in China started on February 1, the day after New Year, and was marked by a week-long national holiday in the country. Large sections of the population travelled overseas at this time to places such as the UK to take advantage of tax-free shopping opportunities offered by luxury brands.
In 2014, it is predicted the UK will see continued strong growth in demand from other emerging markets, particularly Malaysia, Russia and the UAE.
International shoppers are big on brands and spend big in the UK, but they are increasingly discerning about quality and service. It is essential that retailers adapt their services if they are to benefit from these international shoppers. Simple things like letting them pay using their preferred card, such as China UnionPay, or making it easy for shoppers to reclaim their tax, can pay huge dividends.
It’s not just London that can benefit. While it is the most popular destination in the UK, visitors tend to stay longer in smaller cities such as Edinburgh and Manchester, and can provide a huge boost to the retail and hospitality sector.
It is easy to think of tourists as a one-shot opportunity, assuming they buy once and then don’t return. But retailers and brand owners should treat them exactly the same as domestic consumers, by trying to establish a relationship digitally and making special offers based on sales history and personal insight.
While some retailers offer tax-free shopping to attract lucrative global consumers into their stores, most still do not offer the full range of value-added services such as myCurrency, a form of dynamic currency conversion (DCC), to attract both higher footfall and higher spend. DCC enhances the shopping experience by allowing international shoppers to view the transaction in their local currency at the point of purchase.