In early October, I was asked to be on a panel at the ‘Digital Customer Connection Day’ in London, discussing how digital technology can enhance the consumer experience. My fellow panellists included;
- Group Head of Innovation, Home Retail
- Head of Technology, Dixons Carphone
- Former Head of Marketing Innovation, Tesco
- Managing Director, Intu
- Head of Showrooms, Made.com
- And me … Chris Chubb, Digital Director, Green Room Design
Technology and retail
We were all discussing an impressive collection of examples about how we were implementing digital technology in different guises. I waited eagerly for my introduction.
“So Chris you must have lots of discussion about ‘stores of the future’ with clients, what technology are Green Room developing for clients?”
Wow, that’s a great question I thought to myself and then quickly went through all the different tech we’re currently playing with in our labs; Beacons; Arduino; touch interaction; signage; NFC, etc. but then thankfully the caffeine kicked in.
“Great questions thanks, Mark, we are indeed investigating lots of different types of technology with our clients, and I really enjoy the store of the future brief. But for Green Room it’s less about digital as a silo or separate entity, and it’s more about the consumer experience we aspire to.
For example, last year we worked with Pro-Direct to take them from a 100% pure play online brand to their first high street presence. Their core demographic is the football-obsessed teen, and their expected consumer journey is very different to, for example, a pop-up showroom for an upmarket car manufacturer. So we need to look at the customer, their expectations, their preferred ways of interacting”.
An enjoyable discussion and well received by the 100+ industry folks who attended. I even got a few tweets agreeing with me which is always good for the ego!
A frequently used word at the conference was ‘frictionless’. I like the use of the word as I strongly agree that digital technology does have to be ‘frictionless’ and melt into the store. There’s nothing worse than seeing technology that is either jarring within the environment or seems to add a layer of unnecessary complication. The other day I walked past Dune in the Oracle Shopping Centre in Reading (we just opened a Mercedes-Benz Pop-Up opposite) and I did a double take when I saw the sales assistant with a very nice small satchel holding an iPad. I went in and asked her what the iPad did, “well I can check stock, order it up from the showroom and get items that are out-of-stock delivered to a customer’s home”. The UI looked great, and it was subtle, the assistant was able to get the iPad out of the way when servicing a customer and use it when required to deliver an excellent customer experience, and it felt seamless. Well done Dune, technology that enhances the consumer experience and is frictionless.
Meanwhile, back at the conference, I spent the rest of the day listening to various retailers give examples of digital technology they had implemented. One of particular note was a London chain of coffee shops that designed an app to enabled pre-order by location. The designers had considered the consumer experience and the pinch points for their customer and consequently they were able to demonstrate high levels of engagement and ROI.
So a great conference, all in all. Small, but focused on some great retailers and technology providers. I’ll be attending the next year and hopefully talking about an exciting project that has just gone live and which I am currently not allowed to mention!