At the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Summit this week, thousands of supply chain experts gathered to discuss trends, hear from industry analysts, and share best practices. One presentation, from ecommerce expert and analyst Tom Enright, focused on what retailers need to do to stay competitive against giants like Amazon. Here are three of the main takeaways.
1. Your purpose is to provide customer experiences
In order to thrive and grow market share, stores have to become experience hubs. Customers are no longer satisfied with transactional relationships. They want additional services, like product demos, community events, or expert advice. This also includes creating a strong experience around returns. Last year, Williams-Sonoma launched a Design Crew across all of their brands to provide in-store and in-home design consultations. The service provides customers with expert design advice and ensures that they are getting more value than just a new product.
2. Don’t centralize customer experience
We all know that customers are king when it comes to retail. Many companies have created Chief Customer Officers in order to address all things related to the customer, and ensure that they are a core focus for the business. However, by centralizing that focus, it lets every other team off the hook. Instead of giving the job of the customer to one person, it needs to be shared across the entire organization. Zappos, a company known for incredible service and loving their customers, doesn’t have a Chief Customer Officer.
3. Copy the best ideas
While it’s always good to create new, innovative ideas, it’s also ok to take ideas from the market. Last year, Amazon launched AmazonGo, a brick-and-mortar store with no checkout lines. Customers with an Amazon account and app can enter the store, select products, walk out, and then receive a bill. While the stores have been heralded as new and innovative, in reality, it’s technology that has existed for several years. France’s Monoprix released a video last year poking fun at Amazon’s new stores, since they have had similar technology for nearly a decade.
Retail, like many other industries, continues to go through change and disruption. The companies that focus on new innovative experiences, and continue to put customers first, will be the ones that thrive.