Here are some highlights from the Retail Leaders Forum that we recently held at our Sydney Innovation Lab. The panellists – Patrick Schmidt, CEO of The Iconic, David Burns, Super Retail Group’s CFO and Conrad Harvey, CIO at Linfox – provided a holistic industry view.
Their discussion on offering compelling customer experiences traversed loyalty and customer feedback, the merit of physical stores and the evolution of fulfilment.
Divided on loyalty...
Super Retail Group runs several affinity schemes. Rather than offering points or rewards they create a community of engaged customers. Around 70% of BCF’s transactions are with the 1.3 million boating, camping and fishing enthusiasts who belong to its club.
The Iconic however believes loyalty is not an input, but an output of great customer experience. Patrick said, “So us offering a wider range than anyone else, paired with fastest delivery, great customer service and competitive prices – that is our loyalty scheme.”
In fact, it no longer invests heavily in above-the-line marketing because it has a lot of customers and they have become ambassadors. Patrick noted the “very strong” correlation between Net Promotor Scores (NPS) and loyalty.
…and physical stores
The economics currently don’t stack up for The Iconic to open a shop front. Australia’s costs are higher than the European countries where its sister companies operate.
“We make up for that with customer experience,” said Patrick. “Customer feedback and external research indicate it is the free delivery and returns that customers care about rather than the stores.”
In contrast, Super Retail Group’s customers value talking to people, asking questions and sharing experiences, hence the success of its affinity schemes. “We can’t beat Amazon on the supply chain, but we can on experience,” said David. “The store is a key part of that.”
So while the group constantly reviews the value of the store, Supercheap Auto is trialling some innovative customer experience stores.
The fulfilment race is on
Amid rising consumer expectations around fulfilment, Conrad said a shift is underway whereby goods go from the manufacturer almost directly to the end-customer, whether that be a business or a consumer. “We have opened a fulfilment centre that recognises the change so manufacturers can reach out to a more diffuse distribution channel than they have in the past.”
Conrad broached deploying the gig economy. “Can we use cars (when they’re not otherwise being used) for that fulfilment?”
The Iconic will always offer free delivery and returns, Patrick commented. “We will probably only move to models that are better, namely faster shipping and lower thresholds for free shipping and returns, simply because of Amazon.”
The customer voice
Super Retail Group gathers NPS through the Resonate platform, runs quarterly focus groups and captures feedback via emails, phone calls and social media at its customer contact centres.
Additionally, it creates reasons for customers to engage with its communities as these are another channel for understanding customers. For example it is developing an app to help fishermen catch fish. “You have to try to solve the customer problem and help them with what they are trying to achieve,” said David. “That is why people will engage in your community.”
To continue the conversation on all aspects of the supply chain affecting the Retail industry, please contact Bruce.Begbie@cba.com.au