You made me want it

Ever bought into the latest marketing campaign that bombards you from all channels, which uses a beautiful model that could make a sack look good? You know how it works – you check the website on the tube on the way to work (tube wifi we salute you), only to discover that ‘Those Jeans’ have sold out already (Who had time to shop pre 7am? Must do better.) On the plus side, the man at Number 12 would not have been pleased to have held yet another parcel.

Undeterred, you go into a store and discover that the campaign has launched before the product has been sent to the store. You come back a few days later and have to scour the whole store to find the product. When you do – no thanks to the sales assistant who hasn’t seen the latest marketing campaign – the queue for the changing room is winding its way around the store. When you finally get to the front, the curtains don’t close properly and the lighting is terrible. You try the jeans on, only to discover that those pockets might actually make your bum look kind of big, not petite as promised. If only the lighting was better and you could actually tell!

You decide to buy two sizes to try on in comfort at home – you want two sizes the ‘aspirational’ size (because it is highly likely that diet number 9 of the year will be the charm) and the ‘realistic’. They only have the ‘aspirational’ size in store but apparently that’s no problem! You can have them delivered to home. You’ll get them delivered to work to give the man at Number 12 a day off.  You purchase without checking the finer detail regarding returns because everyone has the standard 28 day return policy to any store or site … Right?!

They look awful … I really don’t want them

You were right, the fit is even worse in the real light of day, both sizes look bad and your (now ex) boyfriend tells you that ‘yes, your bum does look big’. The easiest thing to do would be to post them both back from work, so you look up the return details on the website only to find that if you’ve bought in store, you must return in store. Not only that, but the return policy states a 14 day return policy and by the time you’ve looked up the details it’s already 12 days later. You have 2 options, you either go out of your way to return the jeans or keep them and let them gather dust until you take them to the charity shop a year later… #shoppingfail.

Soul searching

This tongue in cheek view of how not to build a customer journey, hints at some of the bigger questions that retailers continue to grapple with as the acceptance grows that it is impossible to meet customer needs without the right multichannel offer.

So what should we be doing about this? We know that retail business are complex, changes are costly and difficult so what decisions can we take and how do we set ourselves up to be better?

  • Integrated campaign management across channels
  • The right stock availability across all channels
  • A store environment that supports the brand promise, and ties with digital channels
  • Store colleagues trained to support an all channel experience
  • A seamless proposition between channels – including returns

Capgemini’s Digital Shopper Relevancy survey shows that the physical store is still the favoured destination for global shoppers, but only just, with the Internet trailing only slightly. In the future, the majority of shoppers say they will spend more money online than in-store. In addition to the smartphone’s growth in popularity, in-store kiosks are popular amongst shoppers, suggesting that the introduction of more technology into high-street stores is a welcome shift for the consumer. Better understanding shopper behaviour is a basis for defining and delivering the most relevant and differentiated proposition to customers. 

Like a pair of jeans, no one size fits all! If we are committed to delivering compelling customer experiences across all channels we need to listen to our customers, be pragmatic in making change happen fast where it can, and answer the bigger structural questions to set up for success going forward.