Although UK retail sales continue to struggle, the proportion of internet and mobile-based sales are rapidly increasing. The recently published IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index highlights this, estimating that e-retail now accounts for 24% of the total retail market, and mobile sales are growing 52% year-on-year.
Whilst the fall of the high street is unlikely in the foreseeable future, it is making retailers rethink the purpose of physical stores and how they can be used to maximise their brand value, creating a truly unique customer experience. In a recent post, Capgemini Consulting’s Melissa Davison gave a view on how not to build a customer journey. This post builds on that, by providing a view of what a good customer journey could look like.
On a lazy Sunday afternoon, whilst battling the usual despair of watching a sports team you support on TV, you receive a notification on your smartphone. Your favourite retail store has analysed your buying patterns. You’re sent some personalised offers, based on your previous purchases and online views, whetting your appetite for some retail therapy. After checking store opening times on their dedicated app, you drive into town to take a look. Pulling into the car park, the store’s app syncs and displays on your car’s digital display, highlighting available parking spaces. You choose one near the middle, and upon parking notice the space no longer shows as available in the app.
Upon entering the store, a nearby iBeacon triggers a welcome message on your phone, greeting you by name, and reminds you that the item you were looking for online last week is now in stock. After browsing your favourite section, you’re approached by Hayley, a friendly sales assistant brandishing an iPad.
Your conversation instantly gets off to a good start as she already has your customer data in her clienteling app and makes reference to the personalised offers you saw this morning. As you’re wearing your Nike fitness band, also synced to Hayley’s retail app, she can tell you enjoy running 5 times a week, so suggests their latest endurance trainers. She places them on a podium and, thanks to RFID tags, the LCD screen behind it displays information about the trainers’ design, craftsmanship, and a video of a pro-athlete wearing and using the trainers. You fancy yourself as a bit of an amateur sportsperson; you’re convinced and you just have to have them. Hayley adds them to your virtual basket.
You thank Hayley and head over to the digital screens in the homeware department. The algorithms are already one step ahead of you as the video synced to the screen has analysed your customer segmentation and re-order the listings appropriately. You quickly spot the style of sofa you like.
Although tempted, this is a big purchase decision and you aren’t quite sure whether the sofa will fit in your living room. After pausing at the screen for a short while, a message pops up prompting you to try the virtualisation experience. You upload a picture of your living room, via your mobile, and put on the virtual reality goggles. The immersive experience demonstrates what the sofa would look like in your home and allows you to customise materials and colours. Now convinced it’s the right decision, you click the buy button adding your sofa to your virtual shopping basket.
Having nearly spent your savings for the month, you decide against the Nike trainers and remove them from your basket, but pick up a t-shirt you noticed earlier. The digital price tag recognises that you are a Gold loyalty member, and the price is discounted as a reward. A warning notification pops up on Hayley’s clienteling app and she dashes off to put the trainers back on the shelf. She doesn’t feel a hard sell will convince you to buy the trainers, plus there is always next month.
As you opted for the pre-packed t-shirt, you tap your phone against the ‘buy-now’ RFID sticker on the packaging, allowing a one-touch checkout via Samsung Pay on your mobile. You confirm payment with your fingerprint and walk out of the store without having to speak to an assistant; an experience so simple and seamless that it almost feels like stealing.
Thanks to the retailer’s broad range of delivery options, you’re able to relax on your new sofa the very next day! You receive a notification thanking you for your purchase, confirming payment and how many loyalty points you’ve accumulated. When asked to rate your experience, you opt for the green smiley but sadly note that, disappointingly, the t-shirt you picked up was v-neck instead of round. Within a couple of swipes, the issue is resolved and you have organised for a swap out within an hour.
You take a selfie of you relaxing on your new sofa, and share it on social media. This post is picked up by the store’s social analytics tool, and the following day you receive a personal email from Hayley. You’ve been invited to a Nike event at the store next month, where you’ll get the chance to design and take away your own pair of customised trainers. Excited at the prospect, you tap to register and a reminder is added to all of your devices.
The digitally-enabled store experience
This hypothetical journey highlights some of the solutions retailers can implement to develop their total customer experience. Through combining the right human presence (culture, behaviours and interactions), physical design (environment) and digital technologies, retailers can create truly engaging, personalised and relevant omni-channel experiences across all channels.
Enhancing a customer’s retail experience through digital, and through designing a total brand experience, will keep the footfall coming; journeys must be seamless across channels – design for the customer, not by channel; don’t let current organisation structures constrain thinking.