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Look Beyond Marketing When Considering Customer Experience by Gib Bassett

Most people think Customer Experience is about
marketing, or the activities associated with the last mile of the shopping
journey. However this misses the bigger picture of many factors that support a
successful customer experience.

A great example of a company doing it right is
7-Eleven. As shown in this
video, 7-Eleven leverages a
common foundation for what it calls the “digital guest experience,” as well as
its merchandising and accounting systems. In this way, 7-Eleven serves its
customers personalized and mobile in-store offers. Where it goes beyond is in applying
purchasing and behavioral insights to its merchandising and assortment strategies.

Less forward-thinking retailers could take a lesson
from 7-Eleven’s approach. Consider the case of specialty retailer Wet Seal. I have
followed
Wet Seal for a few years – the
company has been
very progressive in its use of
in-store mobile and social shopper engagement.

So I was surprised by recent
news

that the company was closing two-thirds of its stores. Reportedly, Wet Seal
struggled to keep pace with fashion trends (style and price) – and experienced reduced
foot traffic in the malls where it invested. Given their progressive shopper
engagement practices, and the data and insights these efforts generate,
I would have thought Wet Seal was in a better position to foresee changes in its
customers
and make different decisions regarding merchandise and assortments.

Wet Seal is not alone. Without an analytics-first
approach to consumer engagement that encapsulates all facets of customer experience,
retailers run the risk of focusing too heavily on the marketing aspect of the
shopping journey.

For example, with deep analytics, Wet Seal would have
noticed changes in customer behavior, such as greater price sensitivity, and
merchandise indicators such as social chatter about preferences for competitor
assortments. With such predictors of change in hand, Wet Seal could have altered
pricing, promotion and assortments to stay ahead of customer preferences.

We should first accept that all shoppers are
demonstrating connected behaviors, which make it essential and easy to understand
what’s happening with them digitally. That’s certainly the case with 7-Eleven’s
customers. Mobile and social channels can help shoppers navigate deals,
alternatives and new customer experiences. Retailers can use this information to stay a step ahead.

In summary, retail customer experience should be
based on an integrated view of the various business operations that support the
customer’s experience. Marketing, store operations, online sales, merchandising,
inventory, and service should operate off the same view of the customer providing
agility and deep business intelligence.

Gib Bassett

CPG and Retail Industry Principal

Twitter @gibbassett

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