Customer experience at the center of attention
The customer experience is a major issue for all brands but especially for retailers that see the rise of e-commerce as a threat in the short term, particularly from the “two-headed dragon” embodied by Amazon and Alibaba. The customer experience is no longer limited only to the customer’s purchase. Now brands need to understand that there is one before the purchase, and even more importantly that there is one after the purchase. However, if years of putting merchandising advice into practice and improving their offers have helped to renew the demand for the consumer, their mobility has also increased considerably with the use of smartphones and social networks.
The customer experience now starts mainly on a smartphone, either via an app (from a company, brand or one used to compare offers), or via social networks (and the more or less spontaneous recommendation from their personal network or from accounts they track that are of interest to them), or via vocal interfaces such as Siri, Google Home or Alexa. If the possibility of geolocating a prospect or a customer is used in combination with a strong commercial incentive on apps like Waze or even on media sites like Team, knowing the position of a person betters the possibility of any type of brand letting them know a store or a service is close to home or on their way. Creating point-of-sale traffic becomes possible by inserting the brand (albeit somewhat intrusively) into people’s activities when they are using their phones spontaneously. This is also what Google has developed via their search engine by offering suggestions called “Google Instant”.
But if creating visits to a store is crucial and if the in situ experience can make it possible to affect the shopper’s intention, it is unquestionably the reliability of the delivery that often makes the difference. Remember that Amazon owes its dominant position in the French market precisely because of its legendary speed and efficiency for home deliveries (or anywhere at the request of the customer).
Delivery of the last mile, weak point of the customer experience?
So how are Leroy Merlin, Decathlon, Boulanger and other specialized brands competing for this famous last mile—the one that guarantees the customer that their package will be delivered on time and where they want it? Leroy Merlin, a company that has invested for years in innovation and finances startups or hosts them (depending on their maturity), does not hesitate to propose new models. Recently, for example, the Mulliez Group subsidiary, a leader in their industry, has signed partnerships with Coliweb and Trusk to optimize the customer experience.
Coliweb is a young Lille-based company that had already raised substantial funds in 2016 (2.5 million euros) and continues to develop, as evidenced by its long list of clients (from Ikea to Castorama, Norauto or Nocibé). Their promise is to make the delivery process a real driver of customer satisfaction. Currently delivery is ensured on average in 53 minutes! This excellent performance owes a lot to artificial intelligence. The platform connects the delivery and the store according to the route and according to the wishes of the end customer. To achieve this remarkable performance, the use of technology and predictive models is imperative. It is also thanks to the R & D of Inria, which neighbors Lille, that the start-up intends to better plan future deliveries throughout France and Europe.
Trusk is an even more recent development and addresses consumers directly. It allows them to move an object from one point to another by calling a professional delivery person (and their vehicle). It is a kind of Uber for objects that are a little too bulky to enter the trunk of a car. You would no longer need to rent something to pick up your new sofa at Ikea, or to move the garden furniture that your grandmother has kindly given you! Naturally, geolocation and the use of an instantaneous connection via an app are in order.
If Leroy Merlin works hand in hand with these two start-ups, it is for the benefit of its customers and to guarantee the future of the brand. No business can survive without a successful customer experience.