Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
The key to boosting customer experience is enabling it through technology, its chief of digital and data claims.
Speaking at the Online Retailers Conference 2016 in Sydney, the department store’s Mark Cripsey discussed how the department store is enabling digital transformation to ensure a more seamless and engaging customer journey.
“It’s not about leveraging technology for the sake of it, but you need to use it as a means to an end, which is the customer experience,” he told attendees.
While Myer has traditionally focused on a more tactile, in-store experience, Cripsey said the retailer also now needs to recognise and adapt to the forces of digitisation.
“The world is changing and the forces of digitisation, plus large-scale, demographic change, are impacting us all and shaping our attitudes and values,” he said. “But it’s not in a predictable or organised sort of way. In retail, our audience or customers are empowered as never before and informed and liberated by technology. So if we are no longer relevant to today’s digital world what would over 100 years of our tradition and heritage as a retailer matter?”
To answer this question, the retailer went on a journey called ‘New Myer,’ a $600 million investment over five years to transform the business around four key pillars: Customer-led offers, wonderful experiences, omni-channel shopping and a productivity step change. Cripsey claimed is a vision built around bringing the love of shopping to life.
“It focuses on three main streams, the product, which is in the right place and can be found at the right time,” he explained. “The second part of our strategy is investing in what has traditionally been a strength of ours, which is service, and providing a compelling in-store experience. The third stream of our transformation is through the omni-channel.”
Cripsey said Myer is looking to leverage its digital data capabilities in order to gain better insights about its customers and predict what they’re likely to buy.
“This way we can help our customers, rather than just sell to them,” he said. “And we can recognise even more potential ahead of us.”
One example of Myer improving the in-store customer experience by leveraging technology has been its shoe department, where Cripsey said sales consultants are now armed with an Ipad and can check if a particular shoe is in stock right beside the customer.
“If it is in stock, the sales assistant can then alert a runner to bring the shoe to the shop floor, rather than abandon the customer and go out the back to look for it themselves,” he said. “In the meantime, the shop assistant can remain chatting to the customer and establish a connection the customer doesn’t feel abandoned. There’s probably also been an opportunity for the customer to be cross-sold of upsold as well.”
If the product isn’t in stock, the sales assistant can launch a customer order app, which scans Myer’s inventory all around the country, Cripsey said.
“Then if it is stock, the order is placed online and the shoe is then sent directly to the customer’s home,” he said. “It’s not rocket science, but it has been massively well received by customers, because we’re using technology to solve a real problem and at the same time, enrich what a team member already does.”
Another in-store digital boost has been the new ‘Myer hub,’ which serves as a digitally-enabled concierge within the department store. The hub contains a digital kiosk that provides a number of services including click-and-collect, a coffee shop, free gift wrapping and Wi-Fi connectivity.
“Again, this has been very successful and we’re starting to roll this concept out, because it solves a real problem,” Cripsey said. “It brings all the services together and adds a bit of sparkle to the store, which has really helped in the pilot stores.”
Personalised shopping experience
For fashion-conscious customers, Cripsey said it would be exciting in the future to offer a more personalised shopping experience. For instance, one future possibility is if a female customer needs an outfit for the races, Myer could leverage the data they have on her purchase history, likes and preferences to provide a more tailored in-store solution, complete with her favourite music playing via Spotify.
“Now the customer would feel relieved that the stress is being taken out of the experience, and I bet she will have a lot of fun in the process,” he claimed. “Plus she will be grateful to Myer for helping her through that process.”
Through all of this change, Cripsey said adopting a test-and-learn methodology has radically changed the way Myer works.
“We are using technology to learn quickly what works and what doesn’t,” he said. “And with this mindset, we can then quickly scale what works.”
For instance, Myer recently collaborated with Ebay to launch what it claims as the world first virtual reality store. Following a 12-month development phase, Myer’s virtual reality department store connects to the existing eBay site, which can be accessed by a new eBay VR Department Store app. Once the app is downloaded, customers place their smartphones in a set of ‘shoptical’ VR glasses to start the shopping experience.
“We’re not saying virtual reality is necessarily the way of the future, but we’re willing to give it a go and find out if this works or not,” Cripsey said. “We’re always looking at how we can improve the customer’s shopping experience today, and how we can keep moving in the future.”
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