Shopper Experience: tres formas en que los retailers pueden remodelar la CX
Author: Amit Sharma
WeWork is far more than a landlord for the ambitious bees in its hives. With the nine-year-old company’s IPO afoot (paywall), speculation around the brand is non-stop. In particular, I’ve heard industry watchers analyzing the brand’s role as a critical player across sectors. While the focus so far has been on how companies like WeWork are challenging traditional notions of workspace and real estate, its influence on the retail landscape could be even more interesting.
This discussion starts with a mix of real estate and retail. For instance, WeWork is moving (paywall) into the iconic space that once served as Lord & Taylor’s Fifth Avenue building in New York City. The brand is part of The We Company and has hundreds of locations. Those land grabs may make WeWork a force to be reckoned with in retail, and I believe this soon-to-be-public brand deserves closer inspection.
I worked in the retail and logistics space for years before founding my company to overcome an enduring challenge in our industry — to make the customer experience more seamless and human. Here are the three biggest ways I’ve seen WeWork and other companies reshaping retail — and how retailers can follow suit.
Lesson 1: Adopt location-as-a-service.
WeWork and Rent The Runway have teamed up to make the online clothing rental service easier to use. Rent The Runway, which delivers clothing orders to customers’ homes or workplaces, allows its clients to return items at WeWork locations in major U.S. cities. This partnership underscores a trend of using third-party locations for retail consumers. I believe consumers have come to expect merchants to meet them not only at home with their e-commerce needs but also at the spots they frequent in the physical world, including the grocery store, pharmacy, or co-working space.
It’s not the only great example of brands embracing location-as-a-service. For instance, I noticed that FreshDirect this summer began offering $25 off orders when the delivery address was near certain beaches. The e-commerce player, which sells groceries, wine, liquor and beer online, also pitched $15 off $75 orders delivered to the beach.
Now that many consumers interact with brands on their smartphones, it seems they’re more open to location-enabled offers, and I think location-as-a-service is here to stay. We’ve seen this trend of “e-commerce on-demand” with the emergence of startups like Cargo, which allows Uber and Lyft drivers to sell snacks and items like earbuds directly from their car consoles. By adopting a location-focused mindset, retailers can signal to customers that the brand is there for them, day in and day out, for all kinds of life activities. It’s a mindset that retailers should embrace if they want to succeed in the years to come.
Lesson 2: Create lightweight-but-impactful partnerships.
Retailers should take note of how WeWork is leveraging relatively lightweight relationships with innovative startups to add value to the customer experience. Consider its WeMRKT initiative, which provides a new pop-up retail avenue for emerging brands to gain visibility and drive sales. The flagship WeMRKT location offers workspace while housing consumer packaged good (CPG) players that are WeWork members. WeWork plans to open 500 similar locations.
WeWork has also become a fashion player bypartnering with J.Crew, which will develop wear-to-work pieces that are sold in pop-up stores in WeWork locations. The brand even launched an ad campaign featuring WeWork members. I believe it’s a great partnership because it creates an aspirational mindset about being a WeWork customer while branding J.Crew as an innovative, 21st-century entity. Additionally, it can only help drive foot traffic for the retailer.
This style of partnerships is clearly ascendant to other areas. For instance, sleeping products retailer Casper has partnered with Target, Hudson Bay and West Elmin recent years to give customers more flexibility in buying and returning items. Casper also teamed up with American Airlines to outfit its fleet of planes with Casper bedding in first class. Retailers should look for opportunities to expose new audiences to their brand by showing up where customers already are.
Lesson 3: Always be connecting.
People seem to enjoy getting things done at co-working spaces like WeWork in part because they offer amenities such as common areas with coffee, beer and other beverages. Through happy hours and other events, you’re encouraged to network with your neighbors and socialize. One area to watch is how WeWork leverages its ownership of Meetup, the networking events player it purchased for $200 million in 2017. The retail opportunities around those events seem promising.
Retailers should emulate this approach and find new ways to connect with consumers through events and experiences that bring people together. It’s been an incredibly successful approach so far for others, like the direct-to-consumer athletic-wear company Outdoor Voices, for example, which has built its brand around community — both online and offline. For example, on Instagram, customers share photos of themselves with the hashtag #doingthings, while they meet offline for events like jogging and yoga.
Brands can take a page out of these companies’ playbook by meeting shoppers where they are, developing smart partnerships and connecting with consumers both online and in-person. I believe the winners will be those that rethink what it means to be a retailer, much in the way that WeWork has redefined what it means to be an office.