Amazon’s launch a few weeks ago of its new Go store in Seattle is pretty revolutionary. Some pundits are calling this new “grab and go” format the reinvention of bricks and mortar. If you’re not aware of what Amazon Go is, check out this link https://www.amazon.com/b?node=16008589011
It’s a physical store with no checkouts that you walk into (via checking in on your mobile phone to your Amazon account), grab what you want and walk out and your account is automatically charged. Great for fast and easy purchases so a big threat to traditional convenience stores. The technology behind making this effortless is mind blowing and has been years in the making. The big questions are, as the technology is expensive it may be hard to scale, however as technology always gets cheaper over time, they will find a way.
Technology is a big threat and also the big opportunity to physical stores. Amazon Go, if it gets traction, will threaten any business that simply relies on customers walking in and serving themselves – as I mentioned convenience stores, supermarkets etc. Look what Uber has done to the taxi industry and now they are about to come under severe competition. We don’t even know what’s around the corner, however, I’m sticking to my guns and strongly believe that if your store provides a great experience, with great human interaction, then you can compete with this technology.
Here are 4 tips on how to successfully compete with technology:
- The Amazon Go example is another disruptive innovation that raises customer’s expectations of fast, efficient service even higher. What are you doing in your stores to ensure customers can get in and get out easily? This comes down to ease of access, well laid out stores that are easy to navigate and having enough staff. In other words, take the pain out of your service experience so it’s a pleasure to shop with you.
- Embrace technology. A number of stores are already at the cutting edge, using technology to make it easier for customers in the store. From the simple use of iPads to 3D technology to simulate what clothes will look like without even trying them on, the choice is endless. Stores have to invest to innovate, however, it’s not the be all and end all. Technology has to match the products you are selling, so any investment needs careful consideration.
- Invest in your people. All the amazing technology in the world will do nothing if your staff show little or no interest in customers. Staff needs to use the technology to enhance the customer’s experience and be there to ask questions and provide solutions. When technology and great service come together you are on an absolute winner. Technology on its own is only half the answer.
- Stop focussing on selling, instead focus on helping. Most customers hate being sold to, it feels insincere and pushy. If you want your valuable customers to come back, you need to give them a really good reason to do so, there is so much choice these days. What sets great retailers apart is their ability to find out the customer’s needs (problems) and offer a solution. This is so far away from showing customers what they come in for and processing that sale – customers can (and will) do this online. Showing genuine interest in customers, asking them questions and suggesting complementary items to enhance their original purchase is what it’s all about. Being helpful generates more sales and customers love it.
We are in for a fascinating ride over the next few years on the wave of new technology, but I believe a lot of people still want to buy from people – this is where great retailers with awesome staff will still win, every day of the week.
Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.