This post is the second in my NRF keynote preview/recap blog series featuring Q&As with Peter Sheahan. Peter is the Founder and Group CEO of the Karrikins Group, author of the new book “Matter” and joined me onstage for our NRF BIG Show keynote presentation on January 18, 2016.
Read my first post “Customer Engagement: Edge of Disruption for Retailers” and check back for future posts.
Kees Jacobs: At NRF, Capgemini showcased its Smart Digital Store in the Intel booth. How can this type of technology engage the next generation of consumers?
Peter Sheahan: The next generation of consumers is used to getting what they want, when they want it, on whatever platform, channel, or device they want to experience it on. All bricks-and-mortar stores already have a digital presence – it’s called the customer’s smartphone. The question is whether they are interacting with your brand or not when they pull it out inside of your store.
One way to make sure that happens is to create a superior technology-enabled experience inside of the store – either integrate it with the phone or better yet, make the smartphone experience inferior to what they can experience by fully engaging inside of the store itself.
What Capgemini’s Smart Digital Store represents is how the bricks-and-mortar store environment remains not only relevant but actually enhances the next generation’s experience of the world. We have to understand that when you grow up as a digital native, you don’t just behave in different ways; you see and experience the world in different ways. What Capgemini is modeling is how you can take legacy go-to-market strategies, legacy distribution models and legacy retail environments and actually make them more relevant and engaging for this generation of consumers.
Jacobs: Our report calls for industry stakeholders to work together in order to be environmentally conscious while increasing customer satisfaction. What best practices have you seen for enabling collaboration both internally and externally?
Sheahan: It’s critical we understand that true transformation is both sexy and non-sexy. The experience of the Smart Digital Store is sexy— groundbreaking technology that showcases the phenomenal capacity companies like Capgemini have to partner with retailers to create unbelievably powerful customer engagement and experience. But in order to pull that off, we have to be able to satisfy the other brand attributes and consumer preferences– such as supply chain expectations, delivery timelines, environmentally and socially conscious manufacturing, ethically sourced materials— all the things the next generation, and in fact all consumers, increasingly care about. Simply put, the definition of the experience of interacting with your brand has changed. It is more complex and broader in scope than ever before, and the customer has the ability to instantly access information on the role your brand plays in the things that matter to them.
There is no way we can deliver on this broader scope of customer expectations without deep levels of collaboration both internally and externally. As a result, we need to give as much credence to the back of the house transformation as the front of the house transformation. There is a high level of alignment and collaboration required to do this well, do it sustainably, and do it authentically. For many brands, it is an order of magnitude greater than anything they have attempted to date. The companies that lean into this complexity rather than avoid it will be much better positioned to win in the future.
In my experience working in transformation, I’m constantly amazed how infrequently people reach outside of their four walls to engage others in partnership. Companies would be surprised how willing customers, suppliers, and partners would be to get into a room to not just envision the future but to design and execute it with them.
I recently worked with a large client who was shocked at how willing their customers and partners were to join them on the journey of transformation. My word of advice is ask and they will come. We need to stop making assumptions about how willing people are or are not to collaborate. Chances are if an organization is sitting around waiting for somebody to lead the way, their partners and customers are too. So they should take the initiative.