The marketing establishment and dynamic media are converging at “customer experience” (CX), and CX is increasingly a reflection of the digital experience (DX). This is especially true in consumer-serving locations such as retail, food services and hospitality, and also applies to transportation, attractions, health care, and education.
Customer experience (CX) is to engage consumers on topics of shared interest. It involves discovery, learning, play and acquiring as well as storytelling and respect for people, places, organization, listening and aspirations. CX is the feeling that you get in the presence of the brand.
Retail is a $4.95 trillion industry in North America, $390 billion of which is reflected in online revenues. Physical retail accounts for over 92% of purchases and its inherent capabilities to offer discovery, browse, learning, product examination, try-on and immediate fulfillment are core to the customer experience. These support the branding, revenue, margins and loyalty to which digital experience contributes, which provide improved productivity of places, processes and people that are the foundation of business-to-consumer enterprise success.
Because factors such as convenience, time, trust, loyalty and experience influence the perception of value, very few consumers actually buy a product at the lowest available price. Overall experience is the biggest factor on whether or not a purchase will be made, and each interaction impacts future purchases (i.e. transactions) and overall brand and retailer loyalty.
“The ‘stor’ of store has related to storage for readily accessible inventory, but that same ‘stor’ is increasingly the basis for story” declared Ken Nisch, Chairman of JGA which has developed branded environments and consumer strategy for clients such as Sundance, Sleep Number, Hershey’s, Disney, H&M, The North Face, Whole Foods Market and Big Bazaar. Telling the story is to describe the topic of mutual interest to the storyteller and the listener. Selling the story is to influence the perception of the topic.
In-store media has tended to be biased on the art of the art and science of customer experience and it has urged the realization that both of these are elements and that professionals should be bold in applying analytics. A customer-first strategy prevails when digital experience seeks to improve the productivity of places, processes and people.
Scott Emmons who has led the Innovation Lab at Neiman Marcus IS for the past 5 of his 13 years with the retailer said “Form is as important to function when it comes to technology in luxury retail, so we are extremely focused on assuring that our customer experience approaches suit the overall Neiman Marcus experience. Generally, the reason that something doesn’t work is because it doesn’t solve a real problem or remove friction from the shopping experience. ”
He continued “Our successes can in part be attributed to making sure foundational data infrastructure is available everywhere, sourcing according to standards, building strong networks and device management capabilities, thinking in terms of a media platform and building in functional overhead”.
Emmons added, “One of the principle benefits of an Innovation Center is to harmonize and address issues and priorities across stakeholder groups, to help assure that our broader enterprise interests are best considered”.
Ken Moy, Vice President of Digital at Subway describes, “The customer experience is intrinsically personal and changes from moment to moment. Not only do retailers need to provide great digital products and services, but must have the processes, skillset and discipline in place to continually evolve them in line with evolving customer expectations”
“The ‘attention economy’ is very real,” said Rohit Kapoor, Vice President of IT at Pizza Hut International, adding, “customer experience has its biggest obstacle the consumer’s time, and the biggest challenge is to respect the customer’s time. Be sub-optimal in any aspect of the business will impact CX or pricing.”
Albert Vita, Director of Strategy and Insights for The Home Depot explained that “digital experience technologies are only valuable to the extent that it brings engagement to a human level of how people discover, learn, relate and interact. Today’s in-store retail customer experience funnel starts with disruption and then engages consumers with connecting, experiencing, conversing and sharing” adding “the starting point is empathy and love for customers and associates and what we can do together.”
Customer experience has to be the business focus aimed at expressing and having patrons feel love for themselves, what they do and can become. The time has come to take customer experience to new heights as “The retail apocalypse has officially descended on America” as stated in a May 21, 2017 Business News article that reported on the expected closure of 3500 locations.
Customer experience, specifically digital experience is a primary differentiator.
Supply systems related to customer experience are actively engaging in response to brand and retail needs. The internal innovation, marketing or customer experience group of the brand or retailer can draw on the expertise of CX design agencies or source directly from the experienced base of digital experience technology providers such as LG Electronics and the provider firms with which it partners.
Dynamic display in uses such video walls and information, promotion, digital menu or interactive panels can fulfill customer experience needs. Specific display products such as Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED), stretch and LED enable unique presentation of brand and other messaging that improves the productivity of places, processes and people.
Lyle Bunn is North America’s longest serving analyst, advisor and educator in North America’s Dynamic Media industry. He serves on the BrainTrust of RetailWire.com and as Chair of the Center for Digital Experience (www.CDigEx.org) was nominated as the Elevate Awards Customer Experience Influencer of the Year. See www.LyleBunn.com or email Lyle@LyleBunn.com.
This blog is an excerpt of an article by Lyle Bunn summarizing the 2017 ICX Summit