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Posts Tagged ‘Customer experience’

Ecommerce is booming! (and with it packaging increases)

In 2018 alone, Australians spent a grand total of $28.6 billion ($20.3 billion USD) while shopping online. As of January of this year, this amounts to 9% of Australia's total retail sales.  All of this online shopping means that the amount of packaging is also on the rise. Further predictions by Statista show that Australia is on track for a huge leap in total revenue growth online, possibly by as much as 15.1%, which creates more and more packaging for you to deal with. While online shopping grows, so does its impact on the environment The number of packages and parcels each Australian receives per year is increasing. On average, Australian shoppers get 2.3 packages every year (and I know full well that I get more than this in books alone). This creates a unique problem that we have to deal with. How do you meet the consumer demand for "what I want, when I want it, and where I want it", without a massively detrimental impact on the environment? The overall goal is to meet this demand with minimal environmental impact, especially in terms of excess cardboard and plastic packaging and CO2 emissions. Adding to this problem is the fact that most retailers and eCommerce platforms haven't been able to master the art of packaging in a way that maximises customer convenience and sustainability. Taking, for example, China's record-setting Singles' Day sales; in the two minutes, five seconds after midnight on Singles' Day, Chinese buyers spent a collective ¥10 billion yuan ($2.07 billion AUD) through e-commerce giant Alibaba's various platforms. By the time the clock hit 1:47, sales were 10 times this amount. Alibaba closed Singles' Day with a sales total of ¥213.5 billion yuan ($42.5 billion AUD). While both Alibaba and competitor JD.com have pledged to use biodegradable packaging to cut down on waste, research conducted by Greenpeace East Asia said many plastics marked "biodegradable" and used by Chinese e-retailers could break down only under high temperatures in facilities that are limited in number across the country. Greenpeace estimated that by 2020, "biodegradable" packaging could produce roughly 721 truckloads of rubbish in China every day. As Australians are fast adopting international shopping behaviours, retailers here need to address and have a strategy in place to minimise the environmental impact. What packaging solutions are on the horizon? A key section of your product's journey is the "last mile" of the delivery process. This is the point where the package meets the buyer's doorstep; the most expensive part of the shipping process and for the customer, it is the often frustrating "out for delivery" stage that seems to go on for eternity. New technology is helping companies to explore a crowdsourcing approach to optimise the delivery process. Online retailers can partner with non-professional couriers to help them complete their deliveries. While this looks like it will speed up deliveries in urban areas, it requires refining to improve cost efficiencies. Drone tech is another exciting development that has been trialled in Canberra. It could help enhance the delivery process and potentially reducing the amount of packaging waste. However, an increase in drones will make our skies more crowded, contribute to noise pollution, and the results of the trials have raised concerns with citizens who relate that the noise has been invasive. The short clip showing the drones in action didn't look like it was reducing packaging but instead, increasing the amount of waste we're creating. Pre-cycling is another approach to packaging reduction. This involves removing a lot of the packaging waste, by selling products without any packaging, or, with a significantly reduced amount. This way, you won't have to worry about disposing of the packing correctly when you open your item. Less thinking about how to recycle it but a bit more effort in terms of remembering to take those empty containers to the store. What other ideas are there to reduce packaging whilst not compromising on the convenience of online shopping? We're thrilled to work with retailers who want to create seamless experiences for customers. 6R Retail has already had the pleasure of working with forward-thinking retailers on their omnichannel projects. This is an exciting time for both consumers and retailers, and we invite you along for the ride (drone and the driver-less car not included).

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Stores Evolution – Where are the humans in this place?

The WEF 2017 report says we will see 15% of stores close in the next decade. Last year saw the highest retail closure numbers in the USA and 2019 is tipped to follow suit. Australia has a significant amount of retail space per capita and this trend seems destined to head our way. But fear not, according to Cowan and company there’s no cause to think that stores are no longer relevant, we’re seeing a shift in focus, “retailers continue to invest in top malls in the top metro areas at the expense of lower performing malls.” As retailers focus on optimising the performance of their investment in space and inventory, in this evolution of stores, I wonder, where is the human element going to fit in? No doubt about it, stores are evolving. What are customers looking for in stores? A store is now a place where you can pick up an order that you’ve bought online, try on/check the item before taking it home, return or exchange it for something that has already been delivered. It’s a place where you can have a bit of fun, some light entertainment that has you engage with the emotional story of the brand, touch and try the products before you commit. It’s a place of immediate gratification, and maybe that’s why it remains enduring and powerful as a place to (potentially) lift the spirits. A recent trip to the gorgeous space that Mecca has in the Strand Arcade would certainly support this! [caption id="attachment_6156" align="alignnone" width="300"] Mecca Strand Arcade, beautiful in-store experience[/caption] As the store evolves further it could soon become even more It could be a place that recognises you as a customer when returning to it and surface helpful information. A place that reduces the purchase friction or assists with after sales service. It could be a place where the shopping experience is not necessarily facilitated by humans. It’s not new news that allowing customers to grab and go without queues has great appeal.  The introduction of Amazon Go, and other variations on the theme, like scan and go Apps has me wondering where the human element of shopping will end up. Will stores evolve to a point where we need no humans at all? Customers just love convenience, and they are willing to give their information away (most of the time) if it means a more convenient experience. Grocery shopping is a weekly necessity and the online version has not been as successful for me as the in-store experience (I like to select my fresh produce). Thinking about cashier-less aisles and stores, they work well when it’s a quick transaction, buying a few top-up items or a quick lunch purchase. A full trolley with the family weekly shop is not compatible with the DIY checkout.  It will be interesting to see how far the cashier-less stores like Bingo Box go and whether this type of purchase process works for more complex purchases. My favourite store interactions are still dominated by a friendly and helpful human that knows the product in their store and where to find it. I see the juggle first hand working with retailers that are constantly evolving to stay relevant, using the technology that is available to them and getting their stores to evolve. The pressure is on not only to deliver quickly but at the same time to remain, customer focused. To create a curated selection that your customer is interested in, I think will still require the input of humans to create the 'newness' and 'freshness' - have you ever noticed that machine learning just keeps giving you more of the same that you've already had? It's a very exciting and interesting time that we're living through.  I believe retailers that keep a focus on the human element (particularly for that emotional purchase) will succeed, because fundamentally stores are evolving faster than humans have.

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Use customer data for efficacy (‘experience’ not required)

Data will be the biggest driver for retailers in 2019, as stores become more astute at knowing who their consumers really are. The Future Forecast 2019 Report goes on to talk about how smart retailers who use data to provide thought-provoking cultural experiences will prosper in this future. We can see that the evolution of experience retailing is becoming more pervasive all the time with the introduction to stores of smart mirrors, skin scans, recommendation engines and geofenced VIP access. All exciting uses of data that lead to (potentially) improved experiences for customers. This information that we share, whether consciously or not, allows businesses greater insights into our preferences. It (potentially) lifts the bar! Which means that, every time an experience is improved, it becomes the new ‘bar’ by which we measure the next one. When the experience doesn’t match the expectations, we are, as customers, left feeling flat. I have spent the last couple of weekends in pursuit of laptop and microwave replacements (they both broke down in the same week). Two replacement purchases, so I was just looking to continue as I had always. In both experiences, I walked away from the incredibly helpful salesperson feeling buoyed and looked after, but the interactions after that left me with a blah kind of disappointment. In one case, the third party repair/replace service was nothing like what the salesperson in-store explained, and in the other case - I had to wait in another in a queue to pay for my purchase whilst four (yes FOUR) people behind the counter did ‘non-serving customer’ activities. In a ‘helpful use of my data’ moment, the store had my details from the last purchase. It was not, helpful to have to step through multiple ‘steps’ to complete the purchase. Standing in a queue to put my credit card on the payment device is rather tedious! And it gave me time to count the number of people behind the counter not serving customers. Whilst the cashier-less experience has arrived in Amazon stores, we have not yet refined the completion of the sales transaction into one easy interaction at the local Good Guys. If it was possible to pay in the moment and go and pick up my microwave, I would have left the store with that (still) fresh feeling of ‘helpful service’. The basics of dealing with the person in front of you first and foremost are stopping store experiences from being productive and pleasant. A replacement purchase like a microwave doesn’t really need to be an ‘experience’; there’s a bit of product comparison but no real need to entertain me. I don’t need coffee, donuts, styling advice or a free set of steak knives. A helpful salesperson and an efficient way to pay and get out of there would be most helpful to me!

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Insurance Dis-trust makes customers feel like criminals

Everyone cheats a little bit, says behavioural economist Dan Ariely. Insurance companies know this too, so they have processes in place to assess the validity of claims. From a business perspective, I get this, it’s a very sensible move and one that hopefully weeds out fraudulent claims. My recent experience on the customer side of lodging an insurance claim has left me wanting to take a broom to insurance processes and really clean the place out! (Read more)

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Rowing Retail: Planning helps keep captive customers

There we are, a group of loyal, crazy parents who stand on the riverbank cheering our girls (who claim to be unable to hear us from the boats). Rowing is a tough sport, it’s a team sport like no other and I’m not going to wax on about it because only rowers are interested, but the summary is, that it takes a certain kind of determination to stick at rowing and just get the boat over the line. (Read more)

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Why Simple Customer Service is Never Simple

Understanding the motivation for a customer is not simple. This was made personal for me, in a conversation with my son this week. We have started using an ‘order online, deliver planned meals to your doorstep’ type service, and he was asking me if he could have some control over selection of meals. Nope. That’s not how it goes, the whole point is that someone else makes that decision for you. “Why do you think I like that idea?” and he had a bunch of great answers about why I might like that idea, from time saving, money saving, faster cooking the whole gamut. But he missed the pain point for me.  It’s possibly too much, to expect that an organisation, and those who work there, are going to understand my reason for choosing their service, but what they can focus on is giving me the choice in that service. That’s the simple bit. (Read more)

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