Headlines continue to circulate about the department store’s demise, questioning what the future holds for the company, its Board of Directors and whether they have the capability to weather the storm. One thing that’s for certain is Myer’s sales are going down, and something needs to change. We’ve taken a long hard look from a CX perspective to pinpoint why this downward turn continues to occur, and how they can shift their CX in the right direction to help salvage what’s left.
You’re probably thinking, where to begin?! We’ve put together a condensed list of what some of their key CX problems are.
1. Lack of Differentiation: Competition is high, and Myer have failed to assert their unique position in the market. Right now, they’re caught in between discount retailers like K-mart and Target, and higher end retailers like David Jones. Down the lower/middle of the market has also seen significant competition with the entry of international brands such as Zara and to a lesser extent H&M. This decreases the likelihood of a customer choosing to shop with Myer because their brand perception of the store is unclear. Without a clear differentiating factor, what’s to stop a customer from choosing to shop with a discount or online retailer over Myer? Similarly, if a customer wants a luxurious high-end experience, Myer is not guaranteed to be top-of-mind in this department either, even though a select few stores stock various high-end and designer fashion brands. This lack of brand image alignment has resulted in the store flying under the radar in the mind of the customer as just another large department store, rather than a stand-out, memorable department store.
2. Death by Discount: We’ve all heard about the discount addiction that has plagued many a store in Australia. While discounts are important, and customers do actively seek them out, their value is lost when customers know they can expect to receive them all the time. Myer has unfortunately fallen prey to this, and in turn it has become one of their selling points. Myer need to decide where they want to position themselves in the market and stick with it, rather than trying to please everyone. Discounts aren’t enough to keep people coming and competing on price alone is particularly dangerous when there is an abundance of physical and online retailers customers can choose from who often sell the exact same products.
3. Out of Touch with Customers: There has been a clear lack of understanding of how their customers shop and what their customers value. Without a clear path to purchase, customers are left feeling disappointed, underwhelmed, and will be more likely to choose another retailer instead. Myer are yet to crack into the experience department (we will visit this later in Opportunities) and have suffered for it. While they collect MyerOne customer data, it appears that the company has had difficulty converting data insights into actions. Without a clear reason to shop in-store or online with Myer, customers won’t bother because they will assume that they have nothing to gain from the experience.
Some may say that the company is pursuing a lost cause, but we think there’s still plenty of opportunity to turn the Myer ship around. It won’t be easy, but these CX opportunities would be a great start.
1. Reposition the Brand: We’ve harped on about this quite a bit already, but what the problem clearly identifies is that Myer needs to think long and hard about where they want their brand to fit and how they will use their immense store templates to execute their strategy. While they may say they know who their key target customer is, they are yet to communicate this with clarity and certainty. It feels like they’re trying to please too many ‘types’ of customers at once, and in the process aren’t really pleasing anybody to the best of their ability. Once they can establish where they should position themselves, they can take the right steps to make this happen. These steps include changing the size of their retail stores accordingly, making specific refurbishments, and shaping the space to suit the brand image they want to portray.
2. Go Local: Paying closer attention to the customer means getting in touch with communities and analysing data to determine the differences in the preferences of these customers. This will save the company pouring money into a one size fits all store format that isn’t compatible everywhere. Focus should instead be directed towards uncovering how they can introduce specific elements, such as certain brands and services, to make the store relevant and personalised for those customers. While Myer already has a ‘tiered’ store strategy, it is questionable as to how they are interpreting their research and data into customer insights. If customers can see that the company is taking time to understand what makes them unique, they will respond with their wallets and will be more likely to develop a closer connection to the store as well.
3. Leverage Myer One data: Myer needs to work with their data, not against it. It feels like they have been basing their in-store and online experience on pre-developed customer types that are no longer relevant and then assigning customers to these outdated molds. This process needs to be reversed, whereby they look at their current customer data, identify common trends and clusters, and from here this can illuminate the types of customers who are choosing to or could possibly shop at their stores. Customer engagement is king, and the company holds a very important key to this with their access to their Myer One data. They need to actively delve into this data to identify further opportunities, such as where they can be more efficient and where new technology needs to be introduced to assist with customer demands.
4. Be Experience Driven: The company needs a compelling in-store and online experience if they want to stand out. While they have already been focusing on differentiating their stores based on what brands they stock, this isn’t enough. Even with various Myer exclusive brands, majority of their other stock can still be purchased elsewhere. What else can they make exclusive to Myer? They’ve tried marketing this based on their service but that hasn’t been working, so they’re going to need a better draw card if they want to be a customer’s first choice. The company needs to determine what makes Myer “Myer” and communicate this through all channels. Empty floor space with limited staff simply won’t cut it anymore.
Is there only room for one full line Aussie department store right now in the face of increasing local and international competition? Perhaps, but Myer hasn’t thrown the towel in just yet. If they’re going to survive, they’ll to need to play to their strengths and say good bye to their old methods. A single strategy or solution won’t be enough to save them. It’s going to take a combination of value, point of difference and innovation if they’re going to compete, but first they need to go back to basics and realign their perspective to the person at the centre of it all – the customer.