4 Thriving Retailers & What They Have In Common

Customer Experience Companies

As a retailer, would you rather achieve 17% growth or 3% growth over 5 years?

Yes, we’d suck at a game of “Would You Rather” because this one is rather obvious. However, it is a hard hitting truth for retailers that experience leaders grow their business at an average of 17% over five years, compared to experience laggard peers.

Perhaps it’s because Millenials spend more than Gen X’s and Boomers, on experiences before personal consumption, total goods and total services.

Perhaps is because logically, customers crave unique interactions with brands and want to see their needs fulfilled in unanticipated ways.

Whatever it is, the facts (Rosetta data) shows that engaged and satisfied customers buy twice as often, spending 200% more each year, and are 5X more likely to display brand loyalty than those who are not. 

Customer experience is everything because it really IS everything, by definition. Good or bad, it is provided at every level- including the people, logistics, system, and management involved. So how do you build great experiences into your retail customer journey?

We have much to learn from these greats.

Amazon

On Forbes’ 100 list of Top Customer Experience retailers, their success is driven by their innate customer centricity- something Jeff Bezos has said defines their company. 

Understanding customer’s behavior enables Amazon to help them make purchasing decisions.

Amazon knows that their customers value making purchases informed by research so they serve reviews, images of the product as uploaded by previous buyers as well as a comparison against similar available products. While this is an online shopping example, understanding customer behaviour can influence you to optimize your store in new ways. 

For example, e-commerce shows that people prefer to browse through fragrances categorized in the scent families- for e.g. floral or spicey notes, and not by brand. So Macy’s implemented new product displays organised by scent families, along with mixed reality displays by Perch Interactive

Remember, the customer invests a higher level of time and effort when they enter the store than they do with an online search, so naturally the store should be even more focused on reducing friction in customer journeys, and on helping them make purchase decisions. 

Sephora

Another on Blake Morgans list this digital-disruptor / beauty-brand which calls approximately 2300 worldwide stores home. They use technology to keep buying make-up a personal and rapturous affair. 

Make up shops can be intimidating- rows and rows of promises to make you look better, designed by people who probably know more than you about what colours go with what. Right? 

Wrong. 

You know what you like, and Sephora’s here for it.

Their in-store “Beauty Hub” is a digitally-enabled experience which helps customers to find their most ideal products. It’s virtual lookbook displats personalized inspiration, and a Virtual (make up) Artist service lets you test out looks using augmented reality and mixed reality. This is great, because understanding what suits us is important as we don’t all look like Cara Delevigne (On second thoughts I don’t what’s great about being reminded of that.)

Sephora have used technology to execute experiences against an understanding of their customer’s specific behaviour and desires. 

Glossier

Yet another make up retailer making up the 100 Most Customer- Centric Companies, Glossier wisely wedged themselves in the gap between drug store brands and high end luxury. Because of this, they aimed their business practices at fitting in with people in their every day lives-something perfectly matched with their online presence. 

Native to online, they initially aimed to empower customers and communities with fun and educational content and have grown to now extending their community into brick and mortar stores. 

What is most notable is that they’ve created interesting structures within their organisation.  What we love most is that customer service agents are integrated into the marketing team, and are encouraged to listen to customers, sharing their unique experiences and recommendations.

Because some of the best marketing is actually just caring for the customer- something that they took to another level when a Glossier Employee Helped a Fire Evacuee.

While the Thomas Fire burned through California, a Glossier employee spent days conversing with a customer who had to evacuate. The employee followed up to make sure the customer and her family were safe. After the customer returned home, Glossier sent a package with the customer’s favorite makeup products.

Over-the-top customer service doesn’t have to be big, techy or flashy to make an impact. It’s just the presence of care.

Lowes 

Lowes’ experiments with technology in the pursuit of better customer experience has been an interesting journey to watch. Just 3 of their shiniest technological investments have been the:

• AI Lowe-Bot 

This autonomous robot answered basic questions, and navigated customers through a store. It kept track of inventory in real time and detected sales patterns that could guide business decisions. The Lowe-bot was a pilot project for only one year- and it’s findings concluded that any tech additions must lead to better person-to-person connections. So there it is,  you didn’t have to pay for a bot to learn that insight.

• Lowes Vision Powered by Tango

This home improvement visualization tool showed 3D renders of objects within customer’s homes. It had a similar concept to Ikea Place and Amazon View.
As you can see, digital innovation does not always mean differentiation in the eyes of customers.

Lowes VR clinic

This VR in-store experience teaches Lowes’ customers how to use their home improvement products. It is unique to the function of the store, giving a memorable experience that leaves customers more equipped to do the job than when they entered. 

As one can see, providing remarkable customer experience can take many forms- however, just adding a yoga class, restaurant or a popular new technology to your store is not an end in itself. 

The common denominator which informs all of the best in-store experiences is that leaders first identify broken parts of the customer journey and then focus their time, money and skills into solutions for these real problems. 

Vision Customer-Analytics can help you do that. Computer Vision and AI combine to show areas needing improvement, and the potential your store holds. Understanding is the first step to streamlining your in-store operations with solutions that bring joy and drive your KPI’s.