Last week we kicked off our new #DisruptReview series with a review of one of Australia’s favourite department stores. This week, I headed out to another large Australian department store to put its customer experience to the test.
Who is it? Again, I won’t tell you, but what I can tell you is that this store is a hub for all things fashion, beauty, homewares, electronics and more. Its name is well established in the Australian retail sector and it’s one of the old kids on the block.
With that said, let’s get to how the shopping experience went down.
THE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
I set out in search of a black-tie outfit for an upcoming formal event. As soon as I entered, I sensed a very quiet and slow-paced atmosphere. I was shopping on a weekday, so this most likely contributed to the slow pace at the time. My first instinct was great- I won’t be competing with lots of other customers for service and won’t feel rushed to get a move on in the fitting rooms, so this didn’t bother me too much.
Looking around, I could see a whole range of options, ranging from modest to high end price ranges. The clearance rails were particularly hard to navigate through because of the mess, but I still attempted to rummage through in case I found any one-off gems in there. I was unsuccessful here, and so I continued to make my way around the floor through different brands.
Unfortunately, I had to continue this journey alone. There were no staff members in sight, aside from a couple of brand specific staff (referred to in the industry as concessions staff) which is great if you’re shopping with a specific brand, but not great if you’re shopping the rest of the store.
Nonetheless, I continued to search through the stock that was on offer. There were no specific offers on at the time other than a further reduction off clearance, so I didn’t feel particularly inclined to shop with a particular brand. Since I didn’t have anyone with me to make me feel excited about what I was looking for, I quickly lost interest and decided that I wasn’t going to find what I was looking for there. Although there was quite a lot of stock to choose from, I still didn’t find anything that particularly caught my eye, so I resigned from my mission and left the store empty handed.
And now for the moment of truth: how does this store’s customer experience measure up?
Price: Given what I was shopping for, I had already anticipated for my potential purchase to be more on the expensive side, but I was pleasantly surprised by the price range they had to offer. It’s always a great feeling when you know that a piece of clothing doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to buy.
Product: There was a decent range to choose from, which is always a bonus when you’re in that browsing stage and aren’t sure of exactly what you’re looking for. Signs were also used to categorise what was “On Trend” so that customers can quickly identify what’s new and shiny in store. There were a range of styles to cater to different tastes, sizes and age demographics, so there was a little something for everybody.
Ambience: From the moment I set foot in the store, I wasn’t made to feel enthusiastic about the road to purchase ahead. The store feels almost ‘cold’ and disconnected from the customer. Whilst it is very roomy, the space could be utilised more effectively to create a vibrant atmosphere. Maybe something as simple as the music needs to be updated? Where I was there was actually no music at all- *insert tumbleweed rolling here*. Perhaps technology could be a useful tool here to introduce some interactive features that the customer can use while they shop? Whatever the strategy may be, focusing in on ambience is crucial to setting the tone of the customer’s shopping journey.
Personalisation: I wasn’t expecting my own personal shopper by any means but given the category I was shopping for and the type of department store it is, I was expecting a certain level of customer service. The store could benefit from doing some in-depth research to uncover how strategies could be introduced to create a more tailored experience. In my experience, because I couldn’t find a staff member for a long period of time and I didn’t have a staff member approach me, I was left to feel like I was simply a part of the wallpaper and not an individual, unique customer. A customer shouldn’t have to rely solely on a staff member to feel this way, so this opens options for where personalisation can be employed to make the customer feel seen and appreciated.
Listening: Listening goes hand in hand with personalisation. Collecting and interpreting customer data correctly is a key part of listening for retailers today because of the discovery it can lead to. To assist with making the customer feel like the store ‘knows’ them on a more personal level, focusing on how this store ‘listens’ to their data could be the key to creating a more personalised, memorable experience.
Unfortunately, the opportunities outweighed the pros in this scenario. Perhaps I would have received better service on a weekend, but this raises the issue of consistency when it comes to customer experience. Customer experience isn’t a lucky dip. Shoppers need to know that they can have the same standout experience time and time again without fail, and anything less simply won’t be enough.