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customer experience
Shaun Smith
  • By Shaun Smith
  • Feb 06 2014

Laggard or leader.  Where do you stand on the mobile experience?

"Companies that do not consider Amazon to be a competitor need to wake up. Soon, Amazon will be EVERYBODY'S competitor".

This is the conclusion of Forsee in its latest Customer Experience Index, where Amazon hit top spot for best mobile retail experience - a testimony to the online giant’s brilliance in making it quicker, cheaper and simpler for the consumer to buy almost anything. And through its mobile app, it not only enables, but encourages its customers to compare prices of various products while walking in different stores - before, of course, buying from Amazon. The problem for many brands is just how to compete?

Well one option is to go the kamikaze route of Australian company, Celiac Supplies, which imposes a $5 ‘just looking’ fee for anyone walking through the door.

Alternatively, you could follow Best Buy in trying to compete on Amazon’s own terms, by promising to match any price offered by online retailers. But which of us really want to go head to head with Amazon on cost?

The real opportunity for bricks and mortar retailers is how to leverage their one big advantage - the fact that people love to see, touch and feel products (unless they are pure commodities of course).

The more innovative brands are approaching this through blending mobile with real-world experience. Retailers such as Nordstrom are using smartphones and iPads to enable customers to pre-select items they want to try on in-store and then have them waiting on arrival - suggesting different looks and accessories that might complement those items.

Hointer, another US retailer, is also using mobile in-store to simplify the shopping experience. Based on the premise that ‘men don’t like to shop’, they’ve created a store that enables customers to shop really quickly with the help of their smartphone, It is like having an Amazon warehouse right out back of the store. Perhaps no surprise that Hointer CEO Nadia Shouraboura is ex-Amazon.

For Burberry, the store is an opportunity to bring Burberry.com to life. Its customers love things like being able to try a product on and simultaneously see the video of that product on the catwalk. Christopher Bailey, Burberry’s chief creative officer, sums up the in-store experience:

“The juxtaposition of craft and innovation is designed to delight, surprise and entertain. It is a reflection of how we approach everything at Burberry — revealing the different layers of the brand’s heritage within a modern context, and forever celebrating design and expert craftsmanship.” See more

But mobile isn’t the right solution for everyone.

Bill Gullan, President of branding agency Finch Brands sums it up well:

“There are very cherished and enduring values that many retailers have on the side of being personable, on the side of being a bit quaint, and on the side of being very much people-driven rather than systems-driven,”

Lush is a great example of this. The store is all about creating an amazing sensory experience of sight and smell blended with genuine, authentic service from people who exude absolute enthusiasm for their brand, their customers, and their products.

And there lies an important point. The future is mobile, but that doesn’t mean that you should immediately jump on the bandwagon and throw everything you’ve got at it. As with all technology, mobile is simply an enabler of your customer experience so that is where you should start. Be clear about your purpose, your positioning and the experience you wish your customers to have of your brand - and then think about the best channel and way to deliver it.

That way, you ensure you compete on your terms and not those of Amazon.