What does “customer first” really mean?

Rebel Sport’s parent is looking to its product expertise as a weapon against Amazon

Ian Bailey, CEO of Kmart has recently announced that Kmart will be putting their customers first by cutting prices on hundreds of items.

But is this what putting the customer first really means?

Meanwhile CEO of the Super Group, Peter Birtles, claims that its investment in omnichannel operations plus improving on customer engagement and its product expertise will help the group survive the arrival of Amazon in Australia.

I am not sure if you were to ask a Kmart customer what they need the most, whether they would say price is their top priority. Sure it’s important. Otherwise why shop at Kmart. It is assumed that prices will be low. But their biggest gripe would undoubtedly be the almost impossible challenge in finding a sales person.

And it is not good enough to hide behind Kmart being a discount department store.  Take Bunnings. They claim and deliver ‘lowest prices’ but their customer service is quite good.

Customers demand more than just price to consider that they are being placed as number one. It is just not that simple to rely on price cutting.

Peter Birtles is closer to the mark. He includes customer engagement and product expertise. Remember that the Super Group is also in the discount business. I am not clear where omnichannel fits in. Purely because I don’t understand what it means and nobody seems able to enlighten me.

Having a customer first strategy means putting yourself in the customer’s shoes.

What do you think is really important to them? Here is a short list of likely ‘wants’ from discount customers.

  • Choice
  • Price
  • Service
  • Layout
  • Ease of navigation
  • Checkout efficiency

There are probably a host of others, some of which would come at a cost.

But the above are really ‘must haves’ and mostly low or no cost.

 Stuart Bennie is a retail consultant at Impact Retailing www.impactretailing.com.au and can be contacted at stuart@impactretailing.com.au or 0414 631 702.

Access exclusive analysis, locked news and reports with Inside Retail Weekly. Subscribe today and get our premium print publication delivered to your door every week.

You have 7 articles remaining. Unlock 15 free articles a month, it’s free.