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January 03, 2017 | Eric Feinberg

Why CX still rules in a world with Amazon’s checkout-less retail stores

If I was a retailer that hadn’t bothered to develop a mature CX strategy, the news about Amazon’s new checkout-less grocery store would be alarming. However, those that have been measuring and nurturing customer experience programs can rest easy, relatively speaking.

But first let’s back up a bit. If you haven’t heard the news, online retail industry leader Amazon announced the launch of its first brick-and-mortar convenience store that doesn’t require consumers to go through a checkout line to purchase items. You just get what you need and walk out of the store. And if the hype from a slew of well-respected business publications are to be believed, Amazon Go may disrupt the physical retail industry in a big way — as big as the disruption Amazon first caused to the retail world when it ascended to online shopping leader.

So what does this mean for the future of retail? As I said previously, those retailers that have been measuring and managing their customer experience should have nothing to worry about in the short-term or even relative long-term. They’ll be able to see how the retail industry is changing in relation to their own business and customers — with more emphasis on rising popularity of customer journey paths, like BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In Store). Having just completed the 2016 ForeSee Experience Index report, I think retailers are far more likely to follow Amazon in other ways that don’t involve checkout-less stores, such as turning physical locations into semi-warehouses (you’ll have to remember back on how Service Merchandise used to do business).

This doesn’t mean you need to go out and immediately start planning to remove cashiers and the checkout lane from brick and mortar stores. That’s not to say that Amazon isn’t a force in the industry. For instance, 85% of shoppers have purchased from Amazon in the last year and 59% make a purchase at least once a month, according to research from 2016 FXI. Not only that, but 60% of shoppers also said they want Amazon to have physical stores — prompting the company to experiment with convenience/grocery store concepts and academic/commercial bookstores. What it does mean is that you need to be aware of what Amazon is doing in relation to your own company. And the best way to do that is, once again, measuring the customer experience.

Why, you ask? Well, what we do know is that collecting CX data provides retailers with a way to measure the level of satisfaction their customers have, as well as being a proven predictor of future behaviors. A mature CX strategy allows you to gauge customer loyalty, and so much more. Point being, CX data gives you a much clearer path to improving (and maintaining) a healthy bottom line much better than fancy new technology that eliminates checkout lines. That may not always be the case, but for the most part it should give CX-focused retailers plenty of runway to adapt their businesses to compete against the likes of Amazon Go in the future.

So remember: Stay calm and carry on with CX measurement, retailers.

Attending the upcoming NRF BIG Show in NYC? Schedule a time to meet with ForeSee at Booth #1543 for a briefing of the top holiday shopping CX insights uncovered in the annual ForeSee Experience Index — the definitive study of customer experience with top retail brands in the U.S. and U.K.

Categories: Insights,Retail

About the Author

Eric drives ForeSee’s marketing strategy, working closely with the company’s product, client service, and sales teams to infuse innovation and operational excellence into its offerings. Since joining ForeSee in 2004, he has contributed to the organization’s strategic growth, particularly providing leadership around mobile solutions. He is the author of several of the company’s thought leadership studies, including the 11th annual ForeSee Experience Index (FXI) and the American Employee Study. Eric is a frequent speaker on customer experience analytics, and marketing best practices. He is a board member of the Digital Analytics Association (DAA) and an adjunct professor of mobile marketing at the University of California, Irvine Extension. Previously, he worked as a web analyst, multichannel strategy consultant, usability specialist and focus group moderator. Eric is a graduate of the University of Michigan.

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