IBM recently commissioned a telephone survey of 1,000 American adults age 18 and older. The aim of the survey was to determine shopper attitudes on a range of topics including, not unexpectedly, technology. The report, The customer-centric store, makes for fascinating reading:
What must retailers do to differentiate themselves in the marketplace and regain their focus on the customer? How can retailers create a more pleasurable and highly satisfying shopping experience that will meet the needs and demands of today’s customers? The answer lies in delivering a customer-centric store experience that is supported by customer-centricity embedded throughout the retailer’s organization.
Over the report’s 24 pages, the reader is encouraged to focus on the customer experience. Of course, underscoring this call is the pitch for solutions IBM offers to help. That’s reasonable given their funding of the report. The IBM pitch aside, this report is valuable for independent retailers. It provides an excellent call to action in the pursuit of exceptional customer service. It rightly identifies the customer experience as the key point of difference in this more homogenised and corporate marketplace.
The report talks of four strategic imperatives if a business is to achieve customer centricity and thereby enjoy the commercial rewards which flow from such achievement:
1. Build an organization that defines a shopping experience that evolves with
changing customer expectations
2. Provide a truly convenient shopping experience
3. Develop an integrated view of the customer
4. Deliver a flexible product/service offering
Common sense. But when read in the context of the IBM funded research and with the added insight of the respected authors, this report provides an excellent roadmap for any independent retailer concerned about competition, marketplace change and their future. It’s written in an accessable style.
The key take away for me is that in retail it is about the customer and that everything you do within the business should uphold that view.
Well done IBM. (Note: I’m not a traditional ‘big blue fan’ but I say credit where credit is due.)