Tag Archive Retail

When customer experience strategy suits up*

This article was first published on Nunwood.com – the Customer Experience Blog. It is the exclusive property of KPMG Nunwood, part of KPMG in the UK.

It’s time to talk about a very polarizing topic. A topic that has been the Achilles’ tendon of many nascent (and more lasting) relationships… clothing shopping! Rumour has it that women enjoy it whilst men loathe it.

Love it or hate it, buying clothing is an experience all of us need to go through. Innovative customer experience strategy did not spare the fashion retail industry – which was probably the least impacted by the internet as we already discussed. The new focus on catering to the customers’ needs is bringing a number of ways to sublimate our usual shopping experience or to redesign it altogether.

This new generation of customer experience strategy probably will suit most of us like a glove, regardless of where we sit on the shopping enjoyment spectrum. The below innovations will certainly feel like, dare we say, a perfect fit for many of us.

Tell me what reaction to expect

What we wear greatly impacts how we are seen by others and therefore, this is a key driver of consumption in fashion retail. Aware of the critical role of the social proof, O2 Business introduced a clothing rail with a bubble which can be found above each item (with real-time data coming directly from Facebook and Instagram likes). With the latest information on how popular an item actually is, customers can know what reaction to expect once using the product.

This initiative drastically improves the experience of fashionistas and other shopping aficionados and will naturally deliver strongly against the following pillars of customer experience excellence; Expectations, Integrity and Time & Effort, by offering a fast, convenient and honest way of knowing how people will feel about your latest acquisition. For those more wary about buying apparel, this social proof system helps them feel more confident with their latest purchase, backed up by cold data.

Taking away the chore of shopping

That being said, this change could be coined as being incremental. Some innovations can, however, completely disrupt an industry (we saw this recently with Tesla Motors). The start-up Hointer defines its mission as “to create the future of in-store shopping experience”.

Exit the piles of clothing with all the stock exposed to the customer’s view. When you enter the store, all you will see is an elegant and uncluttered store, with only one piece of each item being displayed – or rather, showcased, which basically gives you a ‘one glance view’ of the range of products offered. Using the brand’s app, you can scan the QR code displayed with that top you’ve fallen in love with. The app will ask what size you would want to try and, once you’ve answered, will tell you to which fitting room to go. The item will be waiting there for you. All you need to do is to try it on and make up your mind. If you return it (throwing it in a hole), it will be taken away from your cart on the app. If you want to keep it, you can simply pay within the app.

Thanks to this novel customer experience strategy, the chore of shopping gets significantly less fastidious: find what you might like, scan it, identify what size you want, go to the fitting room and make a decision. No more zoning around and searching among 25 exemplars of that same t-shirt, just to realise they have all the possible sizes (even those you did not know existed!) but yours. This straightforward approach requiring limited effort from the customer resonates strongly with one of our latest tips in journey design, whilst also offering ideas on how to improve your Time & Effort Pillar of customer experience.

Beyond its contributions to an exceptional customer experience, Hointer have many operational arguments going for them: the store requires less floor space, less staff and can benefit from massive operational improvements (e.g. tidiness and freeing up staff to deliver better experiences).

These two examples pinpoint to a very important principle in customer experience: the one-size-fits all approach is dead. What suits one customer will not necessarily please every other single customer. What truly matters is whether a sizable share of customers will approve and go in the sense of these unusual customer experience strategy ideas, with the belief that this will indeed transform their interactions for the better.

 

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Disruptive Customer experience design in retail*

This article was first published on Nunwood.com – the Customer Experience Blog. It is the exclusive property of KPMG Nunwood, part of KPMG in the UK. It was later re-published on Engage Customer.

Two decades ago, online retail was born. It drastically redefined the way we live and consume. Along with this fantastic growth, it also provided quite a challenge to a few traditional retailers (RadioShack’s went bankrupt in 2015, and the world’s largest music store closed in 2014). So much so that last year, Amazonbecame the largest retailer in the world. One might think that nothing could stop online retail – and would have good reasons to. Until recently.

The emergence of customer experience as a key competitive battleground is changing this. This change offers retailers ways to counter the challenge they were given by the extremely convenient online model while differentiating themselves. We explore here two novelties in customer experience design that are being implemented by brick-and-mortar stores.

Your home at Lowe’s with virtual reality
You probably remember the last time you were looking for a piece of furniture in a store while wondering if it would fit in nicely at your home. It does require an incredible sense of imagination for you to picture that new sofa in the middle of your living room. It did require your imagination, until Lowe’s (39th best US Customer Experience Excellence brand in 2015) came up with its Holoroom.

Within minutes, you will be able to design your dream kitchen inside the store and step in it using an Occulus Rift or Google Cardboard. In doing so, you get the opportunity to get a feel for how this would work in your own place, if colours match, if that new fridge fits in nicely or if you’d rather change models on certain items you’d want to buy. Supported by a sales associate, you can design the perfect kitchen, step inside and not even leave the store while making certain that new fridge is all you wanted.

This major customer experience design innovation represents a crucial advantage for Lowe’s against key competitor groups. It goes beyond traditional retail, as customers can directly and conveniently see on the spot how a certain element would fit in at their home, while also providing the support of a sales associate and the possibility to take away the product directly out of the store, unlike online retail (although carrying that big fridge on your own isn’t really recommended!). With this VR innovation, Lowe’s is definitively taking the lead and transforming what best practice looks like in the industry.

Don’t just buy it, stand next to Master Chief (or Santa Claus)
If you ever owned an Xbox (or have children), you probably already know that Master Chief is the iconic hero of the Halo franchise. Last November, for the launch of the 5th instalment of the franchise, Microsoft and British video game retailer GAME (UK’s 71st best customer experience brand in 2015) decided to mark history by using augmented reality to celebrate the launch. People in the store were given the opportunity to actually stand next to the legendary warrior inside the GAME store.

Needless to say, this definitively is a “brick and mortar” exclusive online retailers won’t be replicating too soon. And this is exactly what a segment like this one, who suffers a lot with online competition (you nowadays can just download the exact same game for the same price online), is needing to recapture stores visits and ultimately, sales. GAME provides its customers with a new experience and opens up new possibilities for future product launches around the world. One can only ask: how interactive and brilliant such a launch for Pokémon Go (an augmented reality game promised for this year) could be!?

Following a positive welcome to this concept, GAME gave a new twist to end of year celebrations. Shaking conventions, the retailer replaced the traditional photo on Santa’s knee for a selfie with its own character: Gamer Claus! Customers went in-store and by following signage took a selfie and shared it on social media.

Using the retail store like an experiential tool won’t shake the industry like the internet did, but it certainly contributes towards building a unique and better customer experience for GAME’s customers and achieve a loyal following. And who knows, it might well help them move further up the CEE ranking.

Virtual reality and augmented reality both come with great promises. Time will tell which one will be best received by customers and will sublime customer experiences the most.

This is the first post in a series of newest innovations in customer experience design and strategy, and how they redefine best practice. Next time we will be exploring innovations in the travel sector.

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