HfS has been spending the past several months talking about the Digital OneOffice – a business model focused on placing the customer at the center of every internal operation, even those not normally considered customer-facing. Whether you consider your firm a “traditional” business or a digital native, you need better customer centricity.
Recently I saw evidence of how this new focus on customer centricity is affecting the retail industry. Retail is rife with brick and mortar giants struggling to pivot their operations to support omnichannel shopping, and online upstarts vying to make their voices heard amid the e-commerce din. After hearing yesterday’s news that Target’s Goldfish project — its mysterious Silicon valley digital startup — now swims with the fishes, I started thinking about the tales I heard at the recent NRF conference. From both retail giants and small retail innovators, moving to OneOffice is about enabling the ability to support heightened customer expectations and often strengthening business fundamentals in order to do so.
Stepping into the Customer’s Shoes
Target’s stated reasoning behind abandoning the potential e-commerce spinoff was to renew a focus on the brick and mortar business, strengthening the personalization of the in-store shopping experience with greater personalization and payment options on its shopping app. In doing so, Target is putting a stake in the ground about where it wants — and doesn’t want — to compete. In the case of this retail giant, leaders see greater value in digitizing and optimizing the experience of its in-store customers than in creating something new that doesn’t necessarily jive with what customers want from Target. It seems counter-intuitive that focusing on brick-and-mortar stores helps in Target’s Digital OneOffice transformation, but this move shows that the retailer is honing in on its customers’ experiences where the customers want it.
This strategy had plenty of examples at NRF. I saw providers demonstrating solutions which have the potential for retailers to take their traditional businesses to the next level. These solutions ranged from getting real-time information from the store to engaging the shopper around product education to promoting promotions or specials while they’re making the product decision were top of the list for this kind of optimization. Specifically, here are some exhibitor examples:
- Wipro Intelligent Displays: Wipro had a retail in-store demo which featured the use of sensors to allow the shopper to get more information about the product on a display screen in the store. For example, the shopper could pick up two items and compare them side by side as they would online or in a mobile app. This could also be reconfigured with near field communication (NFC) to connect to the app for greater personalization. I think this would be even more effective.
- Infosys Home-to-Store Journeys: Infosys took a real customer-journey-centric approach with its immersive demo of a full home-to-store shopping experience. The journey demonstration begins in the customer’s living room, with the customer shopping on a mobile app and noting preferences and upcoming events (birthdays, vacations). The journey then moves to the store, and demo participants were greeted by name by the store employee who knew what items the customer shopped for at home. The comprehensive booth also featured a demo of the possibilities for augmented reality in store. Infosys is using a combination of technology and services to customize these journeys for its retail clients and showing what’s possible for the future of retail.
- Sutherland’s Predictive Chat: A demo at the Sutherland booth highlighted a chat solution which originated with a design thinking approach to bridging store and online experience. The platform enabled more proactive engagement with customers by drawing customer data from various external and internal retailer sources, feeding insights into the chat which could pre-empt customer questions and concerns.
- Honeywell Employee Tools: There were also interesting products at NRF. I popped by the Honeywell booth where I saw demos of plenty of tools aimed at making the customer experience better through improving the employee experience. This ranged from a software infused headset enabling pick and pack staff to more efficiently sort items in the warehouse (and move away from manual tracking!) to light, durable wearable scanners that employees can wear on the wrist or finger to enable more swift customer check out; all pointing toward creating better efficiencies in the entire process behind a shopping experience.
The bottom line: being customer-focused means improving the customer’s experience in store as well as online. Remember that in store sales still represent the bulk of revenues in the retail sector. Optimizing legacy systems to make them complement new business initiatives in a way that supports customer experience is how retailers will successfully move to DigitalOne Office.
PS: If you’d like to know even more about Digital OneOffice, come to our New York City Summit on March 30!