Much has been made of the retail renaissance. Experience is now the ruler and the focus is on the customer.
To make it, retailers must continually delight customers with personalised, seamless experiences to keep them coming back. Thankfully, some retailers have successfully grasped this concept, while others still have their heads in the sand, or are too stubborn to change.
A Retail Winner
Globally, a few telcos and tech corporations have set the bar for customer experience such as, Apple, Samsung, Verizon, and AT&T. One store in-particular that stands out as a retail bar-setter is Best Buy.
Recently, I read on article on Best Buy’s “winning retail strategy.” Here is an excerpt from the article “Best Buy CEO talks melding digital with physical for a winning retail strategy”:
“The stores end up being a wonderful asset,” Joly said. A customer app allows the guest to compare features of different products while they’re in the store. They can also know which products are available in which stores. Half of Best Buy’s online orders are either picked up in a store or shipped from the store. “In soccer terms, we win three to one,” Joly said. “And we’re able to leverage digital technology across all of these touch points.”
Throughout this article, I was happy to read the lengths this company has gone through and the tools they’ve introduced to enhance their customer experience – I’m definitely going there next time I’m in Canada.
Anything But Best
Not long after reading this article, I visited Currys PC World – one of the biggest tech retailers in the U.K. and comparable to Best Buy.
The 6000 sq. ft store was bright and well-lit, well-organized, and properly staffed. But that is where the parallels to Best Buy came to a screeching halt.
Customer experience cannot be manufactured; it is not the sum of your store design. It’s real and it can’t be faked. And this company fakes it, big style.
Let me explain.
I was looking to purchase a new laptop and had specific questions about 2 specific models. As I wandered around the laptops, not one single sales associate approached me, despite there being 10 (yes, I counted) staff members within reach of the laptop section.
I approached Advisor #1 and within 2 questions, he had to seek the help of another associate to determine the price of the model. He didn’t even bother trying to answer the second question, which was more technical. I could see the inexperience and fear in his eyes.
Learning point #1: This experience brings out the first learning point for retailers. If your youngest and newest staff members can’t answer customer questions, your induction plans are not working. Training is everything.
Advisor #1 then introduced me to Advisor #2, the “Specialist”. This advisor came to see me, dressed in a branded polo-shirt of the particular OEM that I was inquiring about.
This was better. The specialist was knowledgeable and able to perform a competent demo for me. This narrowed my choices down.
However, when it came again to the prices and stock, he was at the mercy of the store staff – who clearly had system access that he didn’t. My experience was immediately fragmented, and the momentum was clearly lost in the sale, as the staff seemed to be really unsure of price and stock.
Learning point #2: Give your specialists access to price and stock! They should be able to do everything up to the point of cash out. This experience model ensures that the customer deals with one person – an expert who can help them make an educated choice.
The stock and pricing situation was a mystery to me; the staff were repeatedly hopping from fixed terminal to fixed terminal.
And then it dawned on me. They had no product catalog.
They were using the website to find the products, copying and pasting a six-digit code and then swiveling into their OMS system, which doubled as their POS. This was a slow and clunky process, making it difficult for the staff to execute a good customer experience.
From stock to checkout, the process was over 20 minutes for a single master SKU code and three small accessories.
Prices were inconsistent between the OMS and the website. As a customer, no one could help me with the ex-vat prices – they had to go away, use another system and come back with it written on a receipt. I was staggered at how bad and paper laden the whole experience was.
Learning point #3: If your experience is not quick, fast and digital, your customers may go elsewhere. I almost did.
The difference between Best Buy and Currys PC World is alarming. The contrast comes directly down to how the people are trained and the systems that are used – or not used. These are areas that a lot of execs neglect, wanting to see a nifty store design, and as we see with Currys PC World, this is a big mistake.
An Alternate Experience
Now, let’s say Currys PC World incorporated the learning points above into their process. My experience could have looked like this:
Advisor #1 greets me and immediately takes me to meet Advisor #2, the expert.
The expert and I have a great discussion, build my order, discuss pricing (including biz pricing) and consult stock availability shown from a tablet. My decision is seamlessly made.
Advisor #2 then hands me over to Advisor #3; they exchange TX details to POS via tablets. Order completed; delivery date chosen.
What I just described is a customer experience. It’s about 10 minutes shorter and incorporates time for up-selling or cross-selling. That experience is not a fantasy, it exists! It’s absolutely possible with the right platforms, investments and proper time. Ignore this at your peril!
If you’d like to know more about how you can transform your legacy systems and provide a mobile, fast, paper-free experience, lets connect!