By John Bajorek
Couldn’t make it to Shoptalk this year? Don’t worry, we were there and are happy to share a cliff notes version of what we learned. This should only take you a few minutes to read, but the impact on your business could be limitless. Buckle up.
The seamless connection between physical and digital (read: omni-channel) was a theme across every session and every vertical at Shoptalk 2018. That one isn’t earth-shattering. Neither is innovation. Innovation isn’t a buzzword anymore, it’s a necessity to survive. In addition to the physical-digital connection and innovation, we were struck by these 5 takeaways. These major themes kept coming up in session after session, and bonus, we’ve included a best in show brand who is putting it all together.
1. Know the customer through data, yeah, but know them as people too.
Knowing the customer doesn’t mean a basic demographic data point anymore. Knowing she’s a female millennial and purchased a yoga mat yesterday isn’t going to cut it. You need to know what she ate for breakfast, what music she listened to at work, and her weekend plans. Creepy, right? But the key is to figure out her pain points and then help her solve the problem in a personal way.
Nordstrom mapped out a customer journey of over 15 touchpoints in various channels before a sale. That’s how you learn about the customer.
2. What’s more important than convenience? Nothing, thanks Amazon.
Technology for technology sake is pointless, it has to serve a purpose in the consumer’s life (read: make their life easier). It also needs to be behind the scenes. Consumers don’t want to walk into stores and be barraged by touch screens, robots or talking mirrors, they want a seamless experience that makes their life easy. If that means using technology to reduce friction and save them time, then you’re heading in the right direction.
3. Customer service is the on-line warrior of all time.
Our recent research study proved that great customer service collectively made all THE great brands great. Where a brand really wins is when digital, physical and the people deliver an exceptional customer experience. You need to have great people representing your brand who provide guidance during the purchase cycle in addition to an incredible product across physical and digital.
The people will always be the most important, but the three need to work in concert.
4. Grocery: ship it or lose it.
Grocery is 2 (or ten) steps behind traditional retail. Shoptalk should have been a wake-up call to all grocers. If you aren’t shipping, you aren’t winning. Target acquiring Shipt is the perfect example. A personal grocery shopper that delivers your produce to your door? Take that, Kroger Click List and Amazon Go.
5. Watch out big box, startups aren’t the underdogs anymore.
Startups and traditional businesses are neck and neck. Retailers have the consumers, but the startups have the technology and the two are continuing to grow more closely aligned. Together, they will create new efficiencies and as a result, new consumer expectations. Retailers are acquiring digitally born startups left and right for a reason (Um hello Bonobos, Jet & Modcloth). Buy one, join one or learn from one.
Best in show: Nike
At the risk of being a broken record, the seamless connection of digital and physical through data and personalization is top-of-mind and frankly, a necessity. There are a lot of brands that aren’t just talking the talk. Of those brands walking the walk, Nike is doing it best.
They’re offering personalization without intrusion through services and exclusive products. Essentially, they’re getting some key customer experience components right because they’re:
- Connecting touchpoints (i.e. website, Nike Running app and loyalty program) to deliver a personalized experience like their "Reserved for You" program.
- Delivering exceptional customer service by offering customers tips/advice and product recommendations based on workout style.
- Creating a feeling of love between the brand and their most engaged consumer, making them feel like they’re a part of something bigger.
- Constantly innovating through digital and physical through with programs like Stash.
- Deliberately creating services that are repeatable and create operating leverage.
Essentially, they’ve found a way to serve their consumers in a way that’s unique to Nike and personal to their customer. And it’s working. Just Do It? Why yes they did.