Putting customer convenience at the heart of everything

  • News
  • December 18, 2017
  • Scott Fisher
 Putting customer convenience at the heart of everything

With the increasing dominance of online shopping and Amazon knocking at our door, it might seem like lowest price is the only question in a customer's mind. In some cases this may be true, but good data is key to understanding customer behaviour. 

Retailers in the 21st century have access to more data than at any other point in history. Loyalty programmes and point of sale systems can capture huge amounts of information and payment cards are an important source of data. Even small retailers can work with companies like Marketview to get tailored analysis of their local markets and their customers. In the online world, etailers have the advantage of knowing exactly who their customers are, and what they're looking to buy on e-commerce websites.

Wherever the information comes from, retailers can use this information to tailor their offerings and marketing campaigns to win customers and create great customer experiences.   

Outside the grocery sector, 11 per cent of all purchases made by New Zealanders are now made online. In a digital world, data tells us that delivery is a key part of providing an outstanding customer experience. 

Most shoppers want fast and predictable delivery times, reasonably priced and reliable freight services and the ability to return items easily if necessary. While price is important, it is only part of the story, and almost daily we are hearing about new innovations that attempt to smooth over these bumps and make the entire retail experience as painless as possible.

The retailer’s role is changing in response to customers’ desire for a seamless transaction. In fact the very essence of what a retailer is and does is being challenged. Today we are seeing manufacturers and wholesalers selling direct to customers, and providing excellent retail experiences through both online and in-store channels. We are seeing innovation at all points in the supply chain to make the customer experience as convenient and seamless as possible.

Subscription services

Subscription delivery services smooths the annoyance of spending relatively large amounts on freight for small items. Customers can buy whatever they need and have it delivered when they need it, without the worry of additional delivery costs. From the retailer's perspective, the key advantage is that it incentivises the customer to return regularly for a period of time.

Of course, Amazon is driving much of this innovation in this space, and its Amazon Prime subscription service provides a benchmark for other players. It offers unlimited free one-day delivery and streaming of its Kindle and audio-visual content for a fixed monthly or yearly fee. It currently has 80 million subscribers and is likely to become available to Australian (and possibly New Zealand) customers when its local distribution centres open. Currently it’s available to US customers for US$99 a year which is pretty reasonable if you shop with Amazon regularly.

Here in New Zealand, NZ Post is trialling a subscription delivery service called Shipmate. At NZ$12 for two months (excluding large items like whiteware), it entitles subscribers to an unlimited number of deliveries from participating retailers. The four Warehouse Group brands are the first to join. Countdown also recently offered a subscription service offering three months’ free delivery of purchases over $80 for $69.

Improved services and increased flexibility

Innovations are also concentrating around making the process of getting products to customers as convenient, flexible, and fast as possible.

In the US, Walmart has recently announced that it is trialling a grocery delivery service that delivers products directly to the customer’s fridge or pantry, even if they aren’t home. It is enabled by smart home technology and the delivery can be watched remotely via home security cameras. It is also trialling a service in which its staff can opt in to deliver parcels on their way to or from work via an app – reducing delivery times and no longer relying on third party courier services. These innovations allow the retailer to control the entire customer experience - from browsing online to putting the items into a shopper’s hand, or fridge!

Third party providers are also innovating in the delivery space. Global disrupter Uber has developed an UberRUSH product for business owners that want fast deliveries. Like the Uber taxi service, users can track deliveries on a map enabling easy and predictable pickups and drop offs. This type of service immediately lends itself to takeaway or restaurant food deliveries and right now multiple start-ups are offering this service in New Zealand’s urban centres. They complement businesses like NZ Couriers which has recently opened a new major logistics site in Christchurch.

This type of service offers a sensible options for local businesses that don’t have the scale to develop their own delivery solutions. It allows smaller retailers and their customers the convenience the retail giants  are building themselves.

A personalised experience

Online etailing is a rapidly evolving space, and retailers are experimenting, based on data provided in customer feedback to see how they can personalise delivery services and make their customers feel loved. Making transactions fast and easy, keeping customers informed about delivery times and, critically, delivering on your promises is now a given. Failing on these will diminish customer trust, but it's not all for the big guys. 

What can smaller retailers do themselves to smooth the delivery and returns process and make customers feel they are at the heart of each transaction? Despite the vast difference in scale, local online retailers can do a lot to make their customers feel special. I'm aware of etailers who, for example, include a small chocolate bar, a free packet of seeds, or a handwritten note with customer parcels. Small gestures such as these can be very much appreciated by customers, stick in the mind, and can certainly encouraged repeat shoppers.

Thoughtful packaging is another way to achieve a similar effect, and packaging suppliers are also thinking of innovative ways to make unwrapping an online order a personal and enjoyable experience. For example, Sealed Air are innovating with branded heart shaped bubble wrap! Its sounds simple, but it makes you smile and could make your customers more likely to shop with you again.

​ ​

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.


How shopping centres can make a difference with community service

  • Opinion
  • July 19, 2018
  • Linh Luong
How shopping centres can make a difference with community service

Shopping centres can be a hub for services that support their surrounding communities. Linh Luong, senior marketing manager for Stride's NorthWest Shopping Centre shares four strategies from her work.

Read more

Fit-out: Ceci n'est pas une pipe - Vape Merchant

  • News
  • July 19, 2018
  • Sarah Dunn
Fit-out: Ceci n'est pas une pipe - Vape Merchant

Smoking paraphernalia as a category isn’t known for offering a high-end retail experience, but a new eight-store chain selling vape devices and liquids is a breath of fresh air.

Read more
Sponsored content

The Botanist: Music, plants and coffee – music and the rise of multi-purpose spaces

As the retail landscape continues to transform, multi-purpose spaces are on the rise. Retail NZ caught up with Jacob Mathews, co-owner and manager of café-florist ...

Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...

Department stores aren’t meeting all consumer demands

  • In Association with Marketview
  • July 19, 2018
  • Madeleine Boles de Boer
Department stores aren’t meeting all consumer demands

Changing consumer habits mean department stores are no longer top of the retail food chain, writes Madeleine Boles de Boer, Marketview communications coordinator.

Read more

Amazon Prime Day (and a half)

  • News
  • July 19, 2018
  • Courtney Devereux
Amazon Prime Day (and a half)

Amazon Prime Day is one of the biggest online shopping days run by the American company. 2018 saw Amazon report record sales, as well as bumping sale time up by another 12 hours for keen buyers.

Read more

North City shopping centre is under new management

  • Property
  • July 18, 2018
  • Sarah Dunn
North City shopping centre is under new management

Porirua shopping centre North City has been purchased by Australian property business Angaet Group from Kiwi Property, and Colliers International has been appointed manager of the centre.

Read more
Next page
Results for
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

The Register

Content marketing/advertising? Email or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit