Ensuring your customers are creating your CX shopping list

In an industry where the phrase ‘customer is king’ came to prominence, it is no secret that retailers’ customers are their prime focus.

Ensuring your customers are creating your CX shopping list

Listening to your people isn’t groundbreaking. How you go about it might be.

Meet the author

Harmandeep Mann


In an industry where the phrase ‘customer is king’ came to prominence, it is no secret that retailers’ customers are their prime focus. Nevertheless, the impact of COVID on the retail industry in particular has been significant: with changes to in-store and online shopping experiences, changing customer segments and newly emerging customer channels to name a few. We believe that for retailers, a customer-centric approach to your business model, ensuring customer experience (CX) is at the heart of all business decisions, is key to success. Such an approach will enable you to quickly and better understand the changing requirements of customers and meet their needs.

A business model, in its simplest form, is a depiction of how a business plans to make a profit. Business models are constantly changing to adapt and stay relevant. In some cases, retailers must undergo large-scale business model innovation to compete or survive, whereby areas such as their products and services, target markets or strategies undergo extensive overhauls. One of the biggest and most successful examples of a business doing this is Netflix, who completely transformed their business model, from renting DVDs to a subscription model. However, often smaller incremental changes can make the world of difference, especially in the short term.

Retailers need to be fast and agile to quickly understand shifting customer requirements, and make the right changes to operations, tech, processes and teams. We know the B2C data collected by retailers is extensive, however we often see clients struggle to use their data in the right way. Intelligently interrogating your data and using it effectively is crucial to successfully make continuous improvements and add value for your customers. Do customers want a high or low touch experience and where? What quick wins can you implement? Can your multi channel experience be upgraded simply through better digital UX design or online portal improvement?  Once you have the view of what your customers want, you must then define which areas of your business model should change as a result, how it should change and look to implement to meet the demand. An example of how to do this well can be seen by M&S relaunching their loyalty scheme ‘Sparks’. When first launched in 2015, the scheme was branded as ‘confusing’ by customers. However, since its recent relaunch as a digital-first loyalty scheme offering members instant rewards, customer satisfaction and brand satisfaction has improved dramatically.

It is also crucial to not ignore the bigger picture of key transformational changes to ensure capital is invested in the right place long term. Retailers should reanalyse their business model canvas to better visually perceive their business model end-to-end, with a specific lens on both the customer and the ‘new normal’. How has COVID impacted your model specifically, and where? Do your products and services still match the market? Document your current ‘as-is’ view, investigate the CX need and formulate a ‘to-be’ view. Do you have the right tech stack in place and do your processes enable a seamless CX journey?

Key retail business model segments such as order fulfilment, stock management, supply chain management and delivery management should all be investigated. Ultimately it is these business model segments which drive the how, when and why of what your customers want. This upfront analysis of your core model can be done to inform the more long-term and larger-scale changes retailers can make to better meet customer desires.

Another great example of quickly and directly adapting to customer needs can be seen through John Lewis’ use of Zoom to provide virtual personal shopping appointments. Recognising the impact of COVID, the resulting prominence of Zoom as a means of communication, and the needs of their customers, led the retailer to implement this service. Also, considering the scheme is being piloted off the back of three separate successful launches of John Lewis virtual services during lockdown, it shows just how listening to your customer data to inform and expand new implementations can be so successful. Start small and fast, ensure results, use your data and iterate, and then look to build from there.

Many retailers will need to change their business models to accommodate new customer need. We’ve found a big challenge the larger retailers face is their end-to-end experience. Issues such as miscommunication between departments or different business divisions working in a siloed manner can result in a disjointed CX experience for the customer. Whether it be understanding your customer needs, advising on front and back end recommendations, or ensuring CX change sticks, we advocate always ‘slicing’ across the end-to-end view to ensure no business area is ignored and CX always remains at the heart of your business decisions.


Discover more of our retail-focussed insights here.

You might also like