Customer Driven Retail Innovation

Alex Allwood Customer Experience

As the Australian market continues to rapidly change with the influx of international brands offering new digital and bricks and mortar experiences, established Australian brands could well find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.

Deloitte’s annual retail report, ‘Global Powers of Retailing’ shows 39 of the world’s leading 250 retailers are now operating in Australia – with more expansions planned for the coming year.

Global cosmetic giant Sephora has three Australian stores and more openings planned for this year. The brand is an innovator in mega-personalisation – their loyalty program, Beauty Insider, delivers customers a frictionless customer experience across the path-to-purchase.

Whether the Sephora customer is in-store or online the brand delivers a consistent and seamless experience. Customer data is collected real-time across devices and channels enabling personalised interactions.

Customers receive brand offers specific to their skin type, can redeem rewards in a tiered program and track their purchases to delivery. This investment in customer personalisation has delivered double-digit growth figures for Sophora’s loyalty program.

In global markets there’s speculation that Amazon plans to open 300 to 400 bricks and mortar bookstores. Amazon’s mission is to reimagine the best of in-store physical experience merged with the Amazon digital experience – this could see their new stores without checkout counters, instead, customers would be charged automatically on exiting.

Philadelphia based A&G Labs, innovators in marketing and technology have set about reimagining the traditional clothing store fitting-room experience; using customer touchpoint data to inform the redesign of the in-store physical experience from a traditional fitting-room to a super-connected ‘three screen’ fitting-room. The redesign merges a touchscreen in the fitting-room with the customer’s smartphone and a tablet used by the store assistant.

The customer begins the journey by signing into a smart app and scanning a barcode with their mobile to link their device to the touchscreen in the fitting-room. Garments that are taken into the fitting-room are scanned using the swing-tag barcodes and appear on the fitting-room touch-screen, enabling customers to find out more information on the article of clothing, see alternative styles and recommended accessories, read online reviews, and ‘ask for help’ via the sales assistant’s tablet.

Each step of the customer purchase journey is monitored on the sales assistant’s tablet. When the customer finds the perfect garment they can share their find with friends via social media – earning them a discount that is then saved to their smartphone app, ready to claim at the checkout counters.

Locally, Myer is utilising data from customer purchasing behaviour, customer feedback and satisfaction scores to inform the department store’s customer strategy. The brand’s four key areas of focus are: customer-led offers, designing great experiences, omni-channel shopping and productivity.

In-store, the experience has been renewed – with a greater focus on customer service. This required the retailer to overhaul staffing – shifting the ratio of full-time to part-time staffing to enable staffing in periods of high demand such as lunchtimes and weekends.

Myer launched their ‘Smiles on Tiles’ customer service initiative – bringing sales assistants out from behind checkout counters onto the floor and interacting with customers. Armed with tablets, sales assistants can online order direct to a customer’s home.

Customer service initiatives also include: the introduction of ambassadors to greet customers shopping at Myer’s flagship store in Melbourne; multilingual staff having their second language shown on their name tags and the trialling of a new returns policy to help differentiate Myer’s offering.

The power of customer driven innovations will continue to force change. Great experiences that unlock customer value are the experiences that will differentiate one brand from the next and drive competitive advantage.

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About the Author

Alex Allwood

Alex Allwood’s focus is connecting customer and culture to empower customer-centric growth. Working with B2B2C, Alex helps improve experiences that enhance customer value and distinctively differentiate. With a 20 year track record in leadership, operations and marketing, Alex’s strength is developing customer experience strategy: customer understanding and empathy, experience vision and guiding principles and the customer narrative to enable collaboration and alignment. Alex is principal of the customer experience consultancy, All Work Together; has authored the book Customer Experience is the Brand, regularly facilitates Customer Journey Mapping workshops and is a speaker on customer-centric transformation.