Once again this year, ‘experience’ seems to be the keyword in the world of marketing and trade.

Retailers are thus encouraged to offer their customers a pleasant and memorable experience, so that they will keep a pleasant memory of their visit to the shop and want to go back. In this way, the experience becomes a source of satisfaction and therefore of customer loyalty.
But are all experiences worthwhile? For instance is shopping for basic products for the home always a pleasant experience? and must this experience necessarily be made pleasant?

The question is that of the means available to businesses to intervene in their customers’ experience. Do we always need to intervene in the experience, and, if so, how?

To answer this question, we propose a ‘golden triangle of the customer experience’. This paradigm identifies three lines of action that enable businesses to improve their customers’ experience. The first is to create a ‘no-experience’, the second is to remove the irritants from the experience, and the third, the supreme level of experience, is to magnify the experience.

The golden triangle of the customer experience (R. Vanheems, 2017)

 

Producing a ‘no-experience’

Not all experiences are worthwhile and, both when consuming and in other sectors, the consumer may simply not want the experience. Thus, weekly shopping for basic products for the home (water, milk, toiletries, cleaning products, etc.) is often considered a real chore, a repetitive and tiring task that requires an effort without providing any pleasure whatsoever.

The best thing you can do for the consumer in this case is to offer them a ‘no-experience’, or to reduce the experience to a minimum. During these ‘shopping chores’ or necessary routines that generate no pleasure during the purchase, simplification, ease, and even the elimination of the experience are the best ways to create added value for the customer.

Recently, many different solutions have been implemented by brands and retail chains to produce this ‘no-experience’ or to sharply reduce it. For example, ‘evianChezVous’ (Evian) delivers bottled water to your doorstep, or Pikit (Carrefour) and the Amazon Dash Button, which enable customers to order the products they need at home and in real time.

Technological solutions offer an efficient means of producing this ‘no-experience’. Note that the ultimate ‘no-experience’ is provided by automatic replenishment via machines or connected objects. Connected devices (washing machines, printers, and perhaps cars in the near future) are capable of ordering their own consumables (detergents, cartridges, petrol) depending on their needs and with no effort from the customer. Amazon Dash Replenishment and HP connected printers are excellent examples of this.

Remove the irritants from the experience

But not all shopping is a chore… Shopping can be a totally relaxing activity and we have long known that consumers can enjoy going to the shops, discovering new products, letting themselves be submerged by displays and meeting other people.

The purchase of certain products, like clothing, technology, cosmetics, furniture, etc., is a naturally pleasant experience. The search for the coveted product can be a very pleasant moment that customers appreciate and look forward to, on condition that the consumer path through the points of sale is not mined with irritants that can transform a relaxing moment into an experience that is memorably… unpleasant.

There are still a number of these irritants in our points of sale: queues for fitting rooms, waiting at checkout, and difficulties to find a price, a shop assistant, information, a product or a specific article. All these things incite the consumer to enjoy a pleasant experience… elsewhere! What a disappointment, especially when they were looking forward to this moment of pleasure!

This type of experience marked by irritants naturally leaves a negative impression on the consumer, one that risks deterring the customer from the shop and retail chain for a more or less lengthy period of time. Detecting and eliminating these irritants with the aim of providing the customer with a positively memorable experience is a principal challenge to the creation of customer loyalty.

Staff and in-store technology are valuable allies for removing these irritants. Staff action is sometimes the only way to remove irritants and to accompany the customer along their consumer path. Many technologies also help to eliminate irritants. For example, intelligent labels that give access to the opinions of on-line customers, or connected fitting rooms from which customers can send a message for the shop assistant to bring another size of garment than the one they are trying on…

Sublimate the experience (supreme experience at the top of the triangle)

And finally, the supreme experience, the experience can be sublimated and raised to the rank of an extraordinary experience. In this case, the customer experience is different from what they usually encounter. Not only will the customer remember the experience and associate it with the brand or retail chain, but they will talk about it in both their real and virtual worlds, notably through social media, where the effects are amplified…

But how can we implement this third line of action? Magnify the customer experience, of course, but how? Magnifiers are especially created by rarity… and in today’s world, where technology is ever-present, what remains rare is human contact, the interaction with other people. This, more than anything else, can make an experience both extraordinary and memorable. Thus, the man or woman who greets the customer and accompanies them during their purchase, whether they are a shop assistant, cashier, hostess, or delivery person, provides a unique and unforgettable experience. But why would the man or woman create such an experience? For the following reason: ‘If you feel loved, you feel happy’. It is with this logic in mind that an American chain, The Vitamin Shoppe, gives importance to each interaction between the customer and the salesperson and strives above all to create genuine enthusiasm among its sales staff! Although sometimes invisible, technology can also be a precious ally to help staff offer their customers a memorable experience…

 


Between 19 and 21 September 2017, Paris Retail Week will once again showcase French Expertise and will be the only event in Europe which addresses the omni-channel problems associated with 360° retail.
This third edition will bring together in a single event E-Commerce Paris, Europe’s biggest cross-channel event and Digital(in)Store, the leading trade show devoted to the digitisation of points of sale and distribution.

Take advantage of this event dedicated to 360° retail uniting the entire community of on- and offline retail for an optimal vision of current retail issues!
To register as a visitor click here 
Free online registration until September 18th, 2017
Registration at the event: 50 Euros incl. VAT

 

 

 

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Régine Vanheems is author of articles and books in marketing and distribution, and specialist in distribution and physical and connected commerce. She has carried out numerous studies on the multi / cross / omni-channel, on the digitization of the purchase act and on connected retail. Her research analyzes the evolutions in the behavior of consumers and shoppers with regards to technologies and the digitization of the purchasing act. As a pioneer on these subjects, her writings have been rewarded on several occasions in the United States and France. At the end of 2015 Régine published a book entitled "Successful cross-channel and omni-channel strategy for brands and connected companies" (awarded in 2016 by the FCA as a "remarkable publication"). After having co-directed the Management Research Laboratory of SORBONNE (PRISM-SORBONNE laboratory), Régine, PhD in Management Sciences, Associate Professor of Universities, co-founded the Observatory of Connected Commerce. Régine regularly takes the floor as a speaker at trade shows, organizations and trade institutes. She also speaks at conferences for companies (B to C and B to B) whether for brands, service companies or solution providers. Régine teaches marketing and commerce at the Sorbonne, the University of Lyon 3 and the ESCP-Europe.