SAG_Twitter_MEME_Retail_Battlefield_Jul18The retail industry is at the highest risk of being disrupted by new market entrants, with customer experience (CX) being the battleground for its future.

Bob Hetu at Gartner said that every retailer needs to carefully examine its engagement with customers to discover any weaknesses. “Disruptors seek the weakest parts of the customer experience, emphasizing the benefits of their solution and converting customers in the process,” he noted.

With competitors like Amazon focusing on removing points of friction on the customer journey, one-click ordering and the ability to order by voice using voice assistants like Alexa are becoming the standard to meet and beat.

Customer experience has been talked about a lot over the past few years and some might say the term is over-used.

But for me there are two sides to CX:

  • Describing the total journey that a customer participates in between the decision to consider buying something – i.e. a Need, through Selection, Purchase, Receipt and then Use. 
    • This is where Amazon has focused efforts on making the journey as friction-free as possible.
  • But the other place it is being used – potentially confusingly – is to describe “Experiential Retail.”  This is where retailers create an environment where customers go to learn, play and experience rather than just transact – a destination for experience. 
    • The Apple Store is a great example but others have followed this approach – Dyson, for example, and Samsung 837 in New York – where you cannot actually buy anything. But it is also why we will start to see more grocery stores opening cookery schools within their walls.

Experiential retail can be a key step in the customer’s journey – and for many it offers a key way to defend against Amazon and other digital first disruptors, by doing something that Amazon simply cannot do. The thing these two have in common is that they require a detailed understanding of the full journey that the customer takes.

So if disruptors are targeting the weak points of competitors, how do you know what these are?  To avoid disruption, you must identify these and fix them.  And this is where customer journey maps come into focus. 

Over the last couple of years, with my colleagues at Software AG, I have had the privilege of working with numerous retailers and other consumer-focused companies which have really taken this seriously.  One of these companies we have helped to design and map over 2000 discrete customer journeys. This allowed them to simultaneously understand from an outside-in and an inside-out perspective the impact of the customer journey on the organization as a whole and every associated job role, system, data entity and risk.  Friction points can be identified and eliminated, opportunities exploited and new customer offerings or business models understood, evaluated and assessed for feasibility and risk before being implemented.

The battle lines are drawn and disruptors have an immediate advantage. Software AG can help you to identify your CX weaknesses and draw up your battle plans. Click below to find out how.

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