Staples has been focusing on various initiatives recently that position the customer experience (CX) squarely at the center of their strategy for the future. One of the key areas where retail companies need to focus for a better CX is the omnichannel, the idea that shopping online should be just as great an experience as shopping offline.
This has traditionally been a tough promise for many retailers. Customer demands are increasing. They want to shop online and collect instore. They want to hand returns in at stores even if they were purchase online. They want to select in-store and get products delivered to their home. As far as the customer is concerned, the online store is the same as the store in a shopping mall, even if the back-office infrastructure is completely different.
Staples has been focusing on personalization as a way to connect the dots and ensure that any experience with their brand is great – no matter which channel is used.
But one of the real difficulties with personalization is that when a customer is online and logged into their account, you know who they are. When a customer walks into a store, you don’t know how they are. This is a problem that many customers themselves are now noticing, many have declared that they enjoy the online experience far more because in-store they are just anonymous.
In many stores they don’t know who you are until you make a purchase, then the register prints out offers and deals that you might want to use on the next visit. Although most of us just lose all those pieces of paper anyway. Staples are now taking a smarter approach.
They have acknowledged that customers are entering stores and using their phones. Customers are checking out product reviews, checking on prices, price matching across other retailers, and checking social media comments. If customers perform some of this activity using the Staples app while in-store then immediately they can check on what the customer is interested in, what they have liked or purchased in the past, and the system can decide on personal offers or recommendations immediately.
This is an important distinction because by offering better, more personal, information while the customer is still shopping in-store the app can drive in-store purchases because a better experience was created. This also reduces the number of in-store customers who feel anonymous because the only offers they can see are available to every other customer.
I think this is a great initiative and shows how personalization is going to be an extremely important part of omnichannel strategy for all retailers. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment or getting in touch via my LinkedIn.
Photo by Nicholas Eckhart licensed under Creative Commons.