Product Bash 2011- Make the Customer the Centre of Your Retail Experiences

Product Bash 2011- Make the customer the centre of your retail experiences

Brainmates saw 100 passionate and hungry Product Managers join us at the beautiful Gaffa Gallery in Sydney on the 10th of November, 2011 for the end of year wrap up, Product Bash. This year we tackled the affect of the growth of mobile and online commerce on more traditional forms of retail under the topic heading “The Internet Super Mall and the Future of Retail.”

We were very pleased to have join us Mark Rowland, Co-founder of online shoe retailer Style Tread, Andrew Rechtman, Product Director of PayPal Australia and Daniel Roberts, Head of Online for the Woolworths non-food businesses Dan Murphy’s, Big W and Dick Smith as our panel.

With almost an hour of passionate exploration, discussion and audience questions and commentary, Brainmates will be presenting the highlights for Product Bash 2011 in shorter articles based on the common themes. This article explores how you can make the customer the centre of your experiences.

The invention of online saw a change to really defining the customer as the centre of the product experience. As online and mobile become more and more a part of the customer purchase journey, this new model is particularly pertinent to retailers.

Daniel Roberts explained online gives customers control over every single aspect of their purchase journey whether it is price comparison or obtaining a better level of information through product research, service through choosing elements such as delivery and purchase mechanism to suit, avoiding queues and delays by shopping outside of traditional store hours and removing choice and price barriers through the internationalisation of retail.

Daniel also spoke of the advent of group buying power through spot sales, coupons and so on and how these devices influence not only buying habits, but also price points, marketing, stock and the entire sales cycle on an ongoing basis to the customer’s benefit.

Mark shared his learning and methods as an online only store and how placing the customer at the centre of the shoe buying experience makes his business competitive through plugging into the emotional journey of the customer. Knowing his clientele is predominately female and tapping into the desire of this customer set to buy Australian as a priority assists his business in negating the impact of price competition from international retailers.

All our panelists impressed the importance of multi channel purchasing experiences and Andrew highlighted how the barriers between ecommerce, mCommerce and offline commerce have blurred rapidly in the last 12 months, and how this means customers are choosing multiple forms of platform or device in order to gain the kind of shopping experience that suits their purchase needs. In order to finish a purchase cycle, customers are using a variety of channels to discover, assess, research, interact with, purchase and then receive their products. Meeting this demand is paramount to a retailer’s future success.

Whilst the motivation for a customer’s purchasing patterns remain the same, the mechanisms by which they reach their final destination in their purchase journey have dramatically.

Tapping into this journey in the most appropriate way comes from understanding the customer and creating an experience that matches and enhances their retail experience. Consistency, adding value and matching a customer’s need are more important than ever before.

“If you look at a lot of the stuff that emerged during the dot.com bubble it was all quite clever and quite sexy but there was too much customer inertia to move away from what they were doing or understanding of what many of those ideas were. However, if you can add something that enhances the existing functionality of the phone to add value whether it is scanning or making lists and so on, that’s how you really enhance the customer experience,” said Daniel.

Andrew added whilst price was an important factor within the customer journey, convenience is really the defining element which creates customer engagement and satisfaction with a product. He explained how Tesco in Korea’s use of outdoor in conjunction with QR codes, mobile Apps and online shopping to achieve maximum customer convenience.

“The Tesco outdoor ad is just a wall of nicely lit product ads with a barcode scanner or QR code next to it, you choose the item you want with your mobile and when you get to the subway station five or six stops away there is your order ready to be picked up. It has completely changed the nature of the consumer drivers behind the purchase, from considering the purchase, doing the purchase and then the delivery- that whole value chain in which eons of us have been brought up with in product management and product development has all gone. It has all morphed into one seamless experience you can do from end to end,” illustrated Andrew.

Managing and responding to customer objections and reservations head on has been the ultimate goal of Style Tread. Mark spoke about how matching the standard decision blocks customers may have when buying a shoe online with customer policy, convenience measures and guarantees assures consumer confidence and overcomes these objections.

“If you want to come to our factory and try on anything you are more than welcome to. We have tours of the factory every second day and we offer a lot of services such as shoe parties at the factory, we also have shoe parties at people’s homes where we send a bunch of shoes out and you can invite your friends to come along and try them on. We offer free delivery, free returns, 100 days to send it back if it doesn’t fit- those are the things you can offer to entice people to buy online. What you sell is confidence,” explained Mark.

Through creating an environment where customers are provided an entire cycle of support and the ability to choose how they travel on their retail journey, you place the customer at the centre. All agree that listening to the customer and tailoring your experience to suit their needs is paramount to success in today’s retail world.

If you would like a copy of the entire transcript of Product Bash 2011, please contact info@brainmates.com.au