The challenge is for traditional bricks retailers to learn from their clicks counterparts. In some instances, the reverse applies also.
At Designworks, we talk to clients about customer journeys, not just individual touch points.
To design a customer experience you need to be holistic. A great app doesn’t make up for a poor customer service experience.
As they say, for every negative experience a customer has with a brand, they need three positive experiences to overcome it.
There are fantastic apps and great offline retail experiences, but the age of putting a tablet instore and calling it an omni-channel strategy is over.
Customers expect more. So, if we go beyond traditional bricks thinking and merge the virtual environment, what’s possible?
Some thought starters:
How could a purveyor help consumers navigate a big box matrix according to their needs just like they can online?
How could an experience be tailored to a lifestyle or life stage such as weight loss, everyday gourmet, or starting a home or family?
How could an offline retailer suggest other items a customer might like based on a recent pick?
There are some emerging innovators out there.
Land is a high end Russian supermarket. Much like Amazon, it is using interactive kiosks to create recommendation styled grocery lists for customers with a loyalty card.
The deals are linked to the time of week/day and the customer, and the kiosk also suggests recipes with a recommendation of where to find ingredients required instore.
The only thing that would make this better is if it were mobile.
Shopping with kids
A great idea coming out of Sweden’s ICA Kvantum supermarkets is Storytrail.
Families with children can pick up headphones and a Dataton unit when they enter. The audio is triggered by nine microtagged Storypoints instore.
Each tag is a new chapter. To make it easy for kids, way finding in the form of signage and footprint decals mark the trail.
Trader Joe’s in the US attempts to guide shopping by dietary requirements.
On its website you can find products categorised by vegan, non gluten, quick meal, fat free, and so on, but Trader Joe’s is yet to fully integrate this into an interactive, navigation device.
If we started to think of retail like a user experience designer what would be different? It needs to be desirable, intuitive, intelligent, and user-centric.
The retail experience would integrate the environment, online, customer service, delivery, supply chain, marketing, and product experience.
And as a customer I would be able to navigate the retailer by my particular need.
As design thinkers we start with the customer profiles and needs. Not demographic profiles, but mindsets and missions.
In a supermarket you might have profiles for lowest price punters, diet driven disciplines, and family bulk buy. Each of the profiles has distinct needs and therefore journeys instore and online.
As an example let’s take the lowest price punters. They need the lowest price, not the best value (an important distinction).
Imagine preparing a shopping list at home on the store app. On entry to the store the app activates and the shopping list identifies the lowest instore prices of the day and tells you where they are.
At the shelf, you scan the barcode to tick it off your list and a VIP special pops up to offer you two for the price of one.
As you approach the check out, the app has notified the service attendant who you are. Because all staff have received customer profile training, the attendant understands this customer probably finds shopping stressful.
Knowing this they are able to demonstrate increased empathy in their interactions.
The POS system enables them to offer the customer a discount voucher for an everyday luxury product next time they visit, because the lowest price punter cannot treat themselves normally. This establishes an emotional connection.
Could that experience possibly win loyalty from a lowest price punter over week to week catalogue specials across the competitive set? It would certainly be an interesting test.
Clair van Veen is a strategist and acting GM at Designworks. This three part series will explore ideas around the supply chain of goods. Stay tuned for Clair’s last column on the consumer.