Ian Golding: “Turning a shopping destination into an experience destination is vital”

Today we speak with Ian Golding, Global Customer Experience Specialist and Ambassador of the Customer Experience Professionals Association. Certified CX leader, international speaker, columnist and writer Ian has over 20 years as a CX professional, teaching the Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) and author of the book: Customer What?, The Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience.

We start by assessing the current context of the retail sector. Will the offline retail disappear?

In my opinion, absolutely NOT!! There will always be a place for the physical retail experience. In certain circumstances and situations, the offline shopping experience is both preferable and necessary. However, the retail landscape in 2020 is very different – no longer can a retailer just ‘build a shop’ and ‘people will come’ – 20 years ago, customers had no choice – today, as online retail continues to grow, the need for the volume of offline retail outlets is considerably less.

 What are its defects and virtues in front of the online retail?

Online retail has enabled consumers to do what they want, when they want to. It has enabled consumers to access to billions of products in a way that they could only have dreamt of before the advent of the web. Online retail has actually made the world feel like a very small place!! However, there are limitations of the online model – no bigger than the fact that whilst the web enables us to SEE everything we could possibly need and want, it is not able to allow us to FEEL, TOUCH and SMELL the products that we are interested in buying. As a result, many consumers end up disappointed by the products they receive. The knock on effect is that the cost of serving the customer can increase. For most online retailers, the biggest ‘supplier’ is RETURNS – the products purchased by customers but returned for a multitude of reasons!

 The web it is not able to allow us to FEEL, TOUCH and SMELL

 What is the biggest problem or weakness that the offline retail has to face?

The biggest problem is the changing nature and purpose of the locations their stores are based in. Many shopping malls or ‘high streets’ are having to come to terms with the fact that a shopping mall, can no longer just be about ‘shopping’. As more retailers fail and stores lie empty, turning a shopping destination into an experience destination is becoming ever more important. Retail outlets, restaurants, entertainment venues and residential properties need to come together in ‘harmony’ to see the traditional retail centres survive in the future.

 In the current context, what role does technology play in retail?

 Three words – choice, flexibility and speed. Technology has made retail increasingly accessible to consumers all around the world – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

A customer is most likely to remember the way a company’s employees made them FEEL

 Highlights a current technology or innovation that you believe is setting a trend.

Artificial Intelligence – retailers like IKEA now use artificial intelligence to enable their products to be used in a digital catalogue. This allows customers to ‘see’ what products would look like in their homes before committing to buying them.

 What does it take for a store to work? Is there a magic recipe?

There is never a magic recipe for anything. Location, product range and price, have and always will be critical. However, retailers must always never forget just how significant their employees are. The thing that a customer is most likely to remember about their experience is the way a company’s employees made them FEEL.

It has been a pleasure Ian 🙂