It’s the age of digital and more people are moving away from the physical stores and entering e-com personalised environments, but some stores have started to look at combining their efforts and create a seamless experience whilst others have simply been forgotten. Does this mean evolve or fade into obscurity and the history books for physical stores?
The standard independent store
I’m sure as most people who don’t live in a hole will know independent stores run on one thing and one thing only, low marketing budgets and word of mouth for trade. Without this their bottom lines are threatened therefore customer service is a huge requirement and it must be exceptional. I’ve had contrasting experiences of this recently and I walked away in a spectrum of different moods and languages.
@Bird650b – Bird mountain bikes, these guys have a great set up, a small independent company with a great digital outlook on their store. The experience with these guys was a delight and i felt like I was one of a kind and really taken care of. The purchase being made with these guys tends to be substantial therefore most of there clients ask for a demo, which is a complimentary service. Honestly I walked away with a smile on my face and really having a huge brand affinity with them. I can really see Bird MTB going places in the coming years simply due to the quality of the product and the customer experience.
Obviously being an independent company the guys at Bird don’t need to worry about a huge assortment of staff and buildings, however Argos, John Lewis and Currys have nailed the seamless transition. Once these retailers where middle of the pack at best but now they have evolved and taken the lead in the e-com physical environment and managed to keep their customers happy. Guess how? By listening to them and have a ‘great user experience’.
So the bad, these guys just simply haven’t transitioned well at all and I can speak from experience on these examples. I’ll pull out the one OfCom are currently having a field day with. You guessed it, Vodafone, having worked at the company for 2 years I can tell you they do try, but they suffer from too much legacy and management. The online space itself struggles with it’s various platforms and ability to evolve into a e-com physical store.
They do offer deliver to store but guess what happened when I done that. Your right it was dispatched directly 75 miles away and now guess what, as soon as the deal was signed I was paying for it. In total I paid 3 weeks worth without a phone and dealt with hang ups from their customer service teams. Literally the only thing that saves errors like this which can be understandable is customer service, which I’m sure Vodafone are trying to compete with the worst in the world. Never before have I thrown my phone at a tree because of CSA’s playing tennis with your call. Why? Because they have targets to hit and have no idea what their doing…
Another company who have made a poor transition in this field are Next, however Next have began to work on their customer experiences and are crossing over into the realms of the good. By all means making the jump for the larger companies is no easy feet, in fact it’s no easy feet for any company of any size. It will just take longer for the big boys to catch up.
Well now we get to the worst part for any e-com physical store… Communication and basic training. This can be the saving grace for any sized store done correctly, for example @TheProteinWorks understood my frustration with a late delivery and simply gave me some loyalty points. I’m still a loyal customer and now brand affiliated.
What I’m not a fan of is how the Swinley Forest Bike hut @SwinleyBikeHub dealt with a scenario I had recently. They are a small independent store which helps run the trails in the forest which they are good at. What they severally lack in is clear communication and people skills. I was victim to a huge case of slopey shoulder until I eventually after 25 days concluded my business with them. Small companies must rely on word of mouth and clear communication throughout any purchase. What happened was completely the latter and I will never buy or suggest buying anything from them again. This could of simply been avoided had the staff member who was unsure get the manager to contact myself on the number given to him when the query was raised. However this was ignored and the battle for clear communication boiled down to three trips to the store and a dictionary full of swear worlds at a gormless and useless staff member.
So will E-com win?
Everyone understands the highstreets are struggling and that the online retail space is becoming saturated however it’s now becoming clear that companies really need to pay attention to the details. Argos and John Lewis are leaps ahead of the competition with a clear set of communication throughout your buying journey and after care that helps resolve your problem quickly and accurately. Personally I see the e-com physical evolution being the future of retail stores and the depreciation of local stores is simply down to poor communication, poor brand affiliation and lack of positive customer experiences. It’s much like trusted tradesman, you would never invite Dodgy Dave back in if he cost you more money to fix his work..