What Makes Retailers Great in a Digital Age

The UK’s best and worst shops were revealed by Which? recently and it is interesting to go through the findings and see what makes retailers great in a digital age.

A trend in retail currently is businesses becoming more digitally enabled. But digital is complicated. A line I came up with in a digital strategy presentation for a major international brand back in 2012 was: Digital is not quick, it’s not easy and it’s not cheap.

Digital Landscape

The digital landscape is complicated and scary.

One of the biggest problems that prevent clients I’ve worked with from becoming digitally engaged businesses is that they look at digital as a new channel. It kind of is a newish channel, but this is a road block because people tend to be scared of trying new things.

What’s great about the report from Which? is that by getting a snapshot of who is winning on the high-street (and why) means you can apply the same thinking to digital. In this way, digital doesn’t need to be something new, technical or scary. It’s just what has been happening all along.

If you look at is from the customers perspective, for the customer there is no channel –  just the experience.

With that in mind, these were the top 5 retailers on the high street in the UK (and why):

  1. Lush – Customers love the products and staff service.
  2. The Disney Store – The fairytale follows through to the store, service and products.
  3. Richer Sounds – Pricing (value), quality and service.
  4. John Lewis – Excellent service and store environment in a wide range of categories.
  5. Waterstones – Nice store experience, staff service.

Looking at the list brands, they all sell different things, in fact some products are very unique in their own category, but ultimately they were all different from each other. The commonality is service.

So by being aware that each brand and experience is very different to one another the rating here is the experience of customer. And as mentioned earlier an experience is agnostic of channel.

By focusing on the customer experience and not on tactics, digital or otherwise, you can avoid a lot of problems becoming a more digitally savvy business.

However, there is the technical issue retailers face, which is getting what’s happening on the high street to happen online, in the same way. It sounds really simple, but it’s not. To create a slick experience that is the same, regardless of channel, is technically very difficult. But at the end of the day customers don’t see the channel divide.

Final thoughts on what makes retailers great in a digital age:

Customer satisfaction is not a result of cross channel synchronisation, but the experience they have. Thinking about the problem in a slightly different way can help a business make the transition to being a more digitally engaged one.

This leads to asking the question, “what if you customer didn’t have to come to store to get a great experience”? Or one step broader, “what if you could give customers a great experience that have never visited a store or don’t live anywhere near your stores”?

Think about the customer experience, not about digital, and answering questions about digital becomes a lot easier.

Nicholas Soper

About Nicholas

I am passionate about working in tech, travel, solving problems and helping people. I also love being active, surfing and being outside. From England and currently living in Cape Town, South Africa. Say hi! Learn more about Nick.

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