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As retailers expand into the online marketplace, many lose track of what is most important. TBS brand partners Clariden Global know that brand survival requires 100% focus on a world-class customer experience.
A man walks into Nordstrom’s Anchorage, Alaska store carrying a set of worn tyres and confidently requests to return the items.
Nordstrom, the high end fashion retailer and all-American family-owned company has neither stocked nor sold tyres in its one hundred and fifteen year history. Yet, the Store Manager allows the transaction as the original tyre purchase was made many years before, at the exact location currently occupied by the Nordstrom store.
Nordstrom’s mission and one of the many reasons behind their continued success is that it’s employees will go above and beyond to keep existing customers happy and forge relationships with new or potential customers. Simple as that.
While some dismiss the story as retail industry folklore, the fact that the retail giant consecutively rates in the top three retailers on customer satisfaction polls is undeniable.
So how do we recreate this kind of premium customer experience in an omnichannel marketplace? How does the Australian retail industry compare with international top guns and what will our domestic retailers need to do in order to survive in the rapidly changing retail industry?
The Australian consumer is savvy. We have high expectations, we’re early adopters of new product trends, and we’re happy to spend our Aussie dollars online with international merchants for a good deal with great service.
Experts suggest that despite many retailers embracing OTO (offline to online), they can’t afford to neglect the traditional retail experience in offline sales. The one constant in this environment is the fact that people seek human interaction; people buy from people. In an omnichannel world, all retailers will need to provide a seamless shopping experience whether the customer is shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone or in a bricks and mortar store. Successful businesses will destroy internal silos and actively encourage their digital and physical arms to work harmoniously together with the customer experience their primary focus.
When we consider the importance for retailers to understand this impactful space, it makes sense coming together to understand how best to navigate this. Recently, we witnessed Clariden Global’s disruptive Omnichannel Retail Experience & Digital Transformation Conference. During this conference it became tangibly undeniable the importance of understanding how retailers can better compete in this digital space, to influence the OTO expansive experience. The conference, which showcased some of the most disruptive paths currently being explored for the retail sector allowed the opportunity to truly connect with not only innovative ideas, but each other.
Michael Stone, Director of Products for Invigor Group, said “The Clariden Omnichannel Retail (Conference) provided a great opportunity to showcase our products to a highly relevant audience. This included integrating our Insights Visitor WiFi Analytics and Sprooki’s Mobile Engagement platform into the conference WiFi in order to deliver targeted offers and promotions to attendees and analyse movement and activity within the venue.” Conferences such as this allow such connectivity in a way that provides tangible engagement and opportunities which often allude retailers both online and, in essence, in their engagement with consumers.
The Australian consumer is savvy. We have high expectations, we’re early adopters of new product trends, and we’re happy to spend our Aussie dollars online with international merchants for a good deal with great service. Does that signal the end for the traditional in-store physical shopping experience? Absolutely not. High end retailers like Gucci and Louis Vuitton would only dilute their brand by focusing on digital sales. There is no substitute for the human, sensory experience of quality goods met with impeccable human service.
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Another risk for all retailers, despite their brand, is analysis paralysis caused by the myriad systems and data that businesses have at their disposal to monitor and predict their own performance. Information can easily distract business from their core focus; ideally strengthening relationships with existing customers and actively forging new relationships with potential customers.
According to Gaurav Patni, Global Executive Adviser for Retail, Digital Innovation at Logic Information Systems, Australian retailers are performing poorly within the APEC region and globally and he believes that they need to step up and provide domestic consumers with a more valuable, engaging customer experience or risk losing more online sales to international retailers. He suggests retailers here become less risk-averse, stop engaging in the “wait and watch what other’s do” approach (aka “meerkat mode”), focus less on dividends and more on creating a valuable customer experience.
Despite the warnings for the omnichannel retail industry in Australia, many retailers, large and small are investing heavily in bridging their digital and physical functions, proactively engaging with all customers, current and prospective, providing seamless sales and shipping processes and seeking to retain customers well into the future.
And with the likes of shopping centre juggernauts Chadstone (Victoria) and Pacific Fair (Queensland), between them offering a lounge service, an array of restaurants by celebrity chefs, car and shopping valet, luggage services and complimentary family-sized bathrooms for patrons to shower while they shop, customers opting for traditional physical retail experiences are certainly not being forgotten. Retail industry giants like these have done their research and know that by providing customers with a world-class, premium customer experience, they will stay and play much longer and keep coming back.