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The 3 secret ingredients for a great Customer Experience

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Customer experience is a term that has been increasingly researched over the last years (Trends). The reason is simple : Today’s consumers are overwhelmed with so many options that only enjoying a positive experience will make them return to the same place. In fact, studies have found that for every dollar spent on improving customer experiences, companies realized a 3$ benefit (Customer Think). Therefore, it is often cheaper for companies to invest in existing loyalty programs rather than in acquisition programs since a good loyalty program should focus on Customer Experience (CX).

There are various ways to improve your customer experience. In this article, we will go over 3 ingredients that should be used in different amount according to your needs. At World of Digits, we believe it is all about experiences and we are specialists in the fields of User and Customer experiences. Aurélie, Customer Experience Consultant, working at Carrefour Belgium, will share her vision of CX given her knowledge & experience in this exciting field.

Indeed, the shopping experience has been considerably evolving over the last years and is now at a tipping point. In the following, She will go over different trends in the grocery retail industry, give advices and recommendations for companies willing to improve in this area.

How are physical grocery shops going?

Online grocery shopping currently accounts for 1% of the market share in Belgium. It is believed to increase by 30% in the years to come, Xavier Piesvaux. Indeed, it is expected that Belgium will follow the trend of other European countries such as the UK, France, Germany and Spain which are predicted to have the most important online grocery market share in Europe (E-commerce News).

Could this mean that physical grocery shops are meant to disappear? Is the “retail apocalypse” coming? Certainly not so soon! One reason among others is that physical retail chains are looking into experience-oriented stores, making sure that going to the shop is seen as an experience journey for the customers. Indeed, the ability to deliver an engaging customer experience across all touchpoints (digital and physical) is the holy grail for a retailer success in today’s era.

If a customer wants to buy a specific brand, he/she can decide to buy it at any important retailer. Thus, what is important to bear in mind is that customers are often more loyal to the overall shopping experience provided by the retailers rather than to the products or brands they sell. This is why customer experience matters so much for grocery retailers. Carrefour Asia COO Thierry Garnier explains “In a country where you can do anything with your smartphone, what is the role of the shop? In fact, it must become a place to experience, where people come to spend an enjoyable moment”.

How a good CX will benefit your company?

Customer experience plays an important role in customer loyalty and customer satisfaction. Companies want to provide the most competitive and memorable customer experiences so that customers will return to the store and eventually refer friends. Overtime, a customer experience in a store is engrained in his/her brain. Customers might therefore switch to a competitor if in search of a more positive experience (Supermarkets Analysis).

Having a good customer experience means that the retailers provide a positive, seamless and wholesome shopping experience. It can include digital aspects in physical shops where the retailer is able to interact with its customers at every touch point possible. Yet, having the “right” customer experience strategy depends on your store, your products and your customers. You need to know all three extremely well in order to come up with the best retail experience.

Always go the extra mile regarding CX

Customer experience is an iterative process that can always be worked on and constantly improved. Here are a few examples of possible ways for enhancing customer experience, and making sure those remain loyal to the same retailer. Of course, these ideas can be applied to other industries than the retail industry.

Personalization makes customers feel understood by the retailers. This can be done online or via direct mailing offering the shopper products based on his/her recent purchases, or on best recommendations based on other similar customer behavior using Big Data technology.

Loyalty programs are an important way to keep customers coming back. Indeed, the more they spend into your shops, the more likely they are to receive in return. However, the ideal loyalty program should be able to incentivize but also connect with customers in order to make them come back. This is why it is useful to connect loyalty programs with personalization.

Treasure hunt experience makes the customers curious. One important low-cost retailer does so by having an array of unexpected nonfood items, such as diaper bags and dress shoes. The idea is to have some items available in small quantities, and to make them rotate weekly. The goal is ultimately to keep your customers on their toes because there is always something new and limited in their store.

Community makes customers belong together. Physical stores can bring people together, and therefore create a sense of community. You could potentially hold classes or events, or plan an area where customers could use and experience your products together with others.

Bundle your products with some useful services. Using in house capabilities or the help of a third party, it might add value for your customers to go shopping at your shop because of the extra service you offer. This is what Carrefour has done by teaming up with ShipTo in order to deliver grocery shopping to its customers within 90 minutes after ordering via your smartphone.

Have a convenient customer journey. Make sure that your customer journey is as convenient as possible. Using technology to that end might be a good option as customer find innovations such as auto-checkout, online ordering or mobile app offers easier and quicker. Implementing a dining space in the physical store might also be a good way to encourage in-store engagement with the customers.

The next paragraph will develop this point a bit further.

Take advantage of technology in CX

More and more organisations tend to focus on omnicanality. In fact, customer experience in store and online are intimately connected. If a customer enjoys the atmosphere of a store, he/she is more likely to spend time and money on their website doing grocery shopping rather than on the competitors’ websites. This is why you have to make sure that your in store experience matches your technological experience. Here are a few examples of technologies that might reinforce your customer experience in store.

Amazon recently grabbed much attention in terms of fun and exciting customer experience with its shops Amazon Go which was launched in a few cities in the US. The shop has no cashier, and is able to do the checkout of each customer thanks to a technology using computer vision and deep learning in order to capture the products that clients take from the shelves. In terms of payment methods, many shops are trying to make it more efficient for customers by allowing them to scan products directly with their smartphone using the retailer’s app, and then paying directly via the app. China goes one step further in term of payment method since the retailer Carrefour has developed a “smart shop” where customers are able to pay via facial recognition using the social platform WeChat, which is a very popular social network in China.

One American start-up, Dent Reality, has developed a new smartphone tool that allows shoppers to view nutritional and pricing information when they hold their phone camera over a product via the augmented reality technology.

Another Belgian start-up called Amoobi has developed a technology capable of tracking every movement of the customers in your supermarket. After analyzing these data, the company is able to recommend how the shop could improve its space, and optimize the customer journey flow inside the shop.

Carrefour recently launched its personalized platform called Bonus Challenge. Each customer can pick 10 out of 20 personalized challenges. The customer is then incentivised to buy different amounts of products for some specific brands or categories in order to ultimately earn Bonus Points. This deep personalization concept can be made possible thanks to the artificial intelligence. The idea is to use a mix of personalization as well as gamification in order to improve customers’ loyalty.

Is being High Tech enough?

As discussed above, technology matters and might be a strategic differentiator for your company. However, don’t forget that it is not the only thing that is important. In fact, nothing beats interacting with a knowledgeable worker who genuinely wants to help. Indeed, customers might be bored of looking into online customer reviews, and might simply be willing to listen to the advice of an instore assistant.

In fact, if you’re willing to guarantee that your customers will have a great experience in the shop, it is important to train your employees at putting customers first. Mark Van Muylem (Customer Centricity Trainer @ Carrefour) told me that customers actually get attached emotionally with a specific shop because of the human interaction that they encounter. They enjoy getting to know the employees working at the shop and that’s the reason why they will rather go to one shop over another.

Mark has put his theory in practice for the time he was the shop Director in Strombeek-Bever, and he noticed a drastic difference in terms of performance. Indeed, at the time, an important competitor was going to open a new shop about 650m from his shop. Carrefour was therefore expecting to lose a significant portion of market share. However, he convinced the people around him to try the customer centricity approach. After a few month of intensive customer centricity training to the people working in his shop, the market share remained unaffected, which is remarkable in this context! Studies have indeed shown that customers value shop appearance, cleanliness and workers’ friendliness the most in a grocery shop.

At the end, how to manage a good CX?

Customer experience is becoming extremely important nowadays. This positive experience can be improved directly through human interaction in store, but should also rely on technologies and overall innovation. Using them together will only reinforce their positive impacts. Therefore, only organizations that actively create innovative experiences for customers by mixing those 3 elements are equipped to succeed in such a competitive marketplace. However, the proportion of use of interaction, technology and innovation depends on the implemented business strategy. Indeed, we gave you the ingredients, now you need to make up the recipe…

If you need help, at World of Digits, we are Customer Experience and User Experience (UX) specialists. We have created various tools and solutions to help your company in its CX/UX transformation.

If you’re curious to know more, don’t hesitate to have a look on our UX page or ask for support, we’ll be happy to help!

written by Aurélie Waeles


Why CX matters for grocery retailers
8 Types of Retail Experiences That Keep Customers Coming Back
5 technologies primed to transform the grocery shopping experience
An Analysis of Customer Experience in Supermarkets


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