Member Since: 17th May 2006
Paul Blunden is founder and CEO of Usability24/7 an agency that specialises in mobile user experience. Prior to this Paul co-founded Foviance that he lead for more than a decade, transforming the company from a usability testing house into a full service customer experience consultancy. Paul is a regular blogger and speaker on customer experience and has published a number of publications about multiplatform, multichannel and multiscreen experience. Paul has worked with brands that include BskyB, Bonmarche, GoCompare, NBTY, Nokia, Visa, Camelot, as well as not for profit organisations such as CIPD, Shelter and Cancer Research.
31st Jan 2013
24th Jan 2013
This is an interesting item on the future of multichannel retail but I think it should look further ahead. I feel responsibility for the changes taking place in retail (and beyond) at the moment sits firmly with the consumers, not shared as ther article suggests. Their behaviour is changing and it is driving the way technology is used and developed. Brands and retailers are playing catch-up and will continue to do so until the step back from their business and work out what the future will hold.
The first thing retailers need to do is take an honest look at the market they are in and evaluate whether they are being dissintermediated by the web. Books, CD's and Video (DVD & Blueray) are all experiencing dramatic changes in the way they are consumed. Digital downloads of all three are on the rise and will outstrip sales of physical products in the future, in the same way online advertising has now outstripped TV advertising.
The article claims bookstores are suffering because it is easier and cheaper to buy books online. That is today's problem for music and video and probably yesterdays problem for books. The real issue is that the market for physical products is shrinking and the rate of shrinkage will accelerate. Retailers in these markets have simple choices: diversify; go niche; or exit. The problems they face are different to Burberry.
Burberry can have a strategy that creates showrooms because they are the brand. I agree that the experience in store is important but in the case of Burberry I think the brand strength is critical. Burberry has just reported 13% retail growth with like for like store growth contributing 6%. This alludes to online growing much faster offline. There's is the model of the future - a small number of single brand "showrooms", delivering on the brand experience and supporting online sales both directly and indirectly.
A store experience can be created but it is a different prospect creating one in a flagship store on Oxford street to recreating the same experience on my local high street. In the future consumers will travel to major shopping areas for the experience of physical shopping but the high street will not exist as it does today and nor will retailers.
3rd Feb 2012
INteresting piece, nicely set out. However, I can't help thinking it is a bit like askiing whether people understand the difference between research and design. Different things for different jobs at different times.
15th Apr 2011
Measuring ROI is both important and difficult and few companies in my experience manage to do it very well in the area of customer experience. In many ways the arguments made in the article are not helpful because they over simplify the challenge.
Take the first about the hotel visitor. In fact we need to take elements of the second example to start to begin to measure the ROI. For instance, does the customer of the hotel use it because of convenience - is it the nearest to where s/he needs to stay anmd is that what is driving his decision? If the person only ever stays twice and the impact of his word of mouth criticisms have no influence on others because perhaps they don't need to stay in this type of hotel) then the transaction is potentially break even, or perhaps even loss making.
Longitudinal measurement of behaviour and transactions can combine to offer a lifetime value of customer figure that can then feed into an ROI calculation but the method needs to stand up to scrutiny. The article appears to be saying that customers are dumping big research in favour of quick surveys but in my experience they are actually doing both.
Moving the debate on can only be a good thing so this type of article is important, but it is not quite so black and white when customers are involved.
28th Jan 2010
I am really encouraged by this story because the distinction between the customer experience that is designed and delivered and measurement of how that experience is "consumed" by customers (satisfaction) is clear. Too often satisfaction is used as a catch all for customer experience when in fact it is simply a measure of expactation vs delivery.
The effort and creativity required to deliver a truly differentiated customer experience should not be underestimated and is frequently the missing link from organisation. Making sure service people are smily and friendly is not the solution and it looks like Starbucks has taken a holistic approach which is positive.
I am not convinced the execution from Starbucks is as good in the area of store culture as that of say Pret, but if the intent is there and the understanding that it is a long game as it would seem they do then the outcome should be positive.