It’s time to talk about a very polarizing topic. A topic that has been the Achilles’ tendon of many nascent (and more lasting) relationships… clothing shopping! Rumour has it that women enjoy it whilst men loathe it.

Love it or hate it, buying clothing is an experience all of us need to go through. Innovative customer experience strategy did not spare the fashion retail industry – which was probably the least impacted by the internet as we already discussed. The new focus on catering to the customers’ needs is bringing a number of ways to sublimate our usual shopping experience or to redesign it altogether.

This new generation of customer experience strategy probably will suit most of us like a glove, regardless of where we sit on the shopping enjoyment spectrum. The below innovations will certainly feel like, dare we say, a perfect fit for many of us.

Tell me what reaction to expect

What we wear greatly impacts how we are seen by others and therefore, this is a key driver of consumption in fashion retail. Aware of the critical role of the social proof, O2 Business introduced a clothing rail with a bubble which can be found above each item (with real-time data coming directly from Facebook and Instagram likes). With the latest information on how popular an item actually is, customers can know what reaction to expect once using the product.

This initiative drastically improves the experience of fashionistas and other shopping aficionados and will naturally deliver strongly against the following pillars of customer experience excellence; Expectations, Integrity and Time & Effort, by offering a fast, convenient and honest way of knowing how people will feel about your latest acquisition. For those more wary about buying apparel, this social proof system helps them feel more confident with their latest purchase, backed up by cold data.

Taking away the chore of shopping

That being said, this change could be coined as being incremental. Some innovations can, however, completely disrupt an industry (we saw this recently with Tesla Motors). The start-up Hointer defines its mission as “to create the future of in-store shopping experience”.

Exit the piles of clothing with all the stock exposed to the customer’s view. When you enter the store, all you will see is an elegant and uncluttered store, with only one piece of each item being displayed – or rather, showcased, which basically gives you a ‘one glance view’ of the range of products offered. Using the brand’s app, you can scan the QR code displayed with that top you’ve fallen in love with. The app will ask what size you would want to try and, once you’ve answered, will tell you to which fitting room to go. The item will be waiting there for you. All you need to do is to try it on and make up your mind. If you return it (throwing it in a hole), it will be taken away from your cart on the app. If you want to keep it, you can simply pay within the app.

Thanks to this novel customer experience strategy, the chore of shopping gets significantly less fastidious: find what you might like, scan it, identify what size you want, go to the fitting room and make a decision. No more zoning around and searching among 25 exemplars of that same t-shirt, just to realise they have all the possible sizes (even those you did not know existed!) but yours. This straightforward approach requiring limited effort from the customer resonates strongly with one of our latest tips in journey design, whilst also offering ideas on how to improve your Time & Effort Pillar of customer experience.

Beyond its contributions to an exceptional customer experience, Hointer have many operational arguments going for them: the store requires less floor space, less staff and can benefit from massive operational improvements (e.g. tidiness and freeing up staff to deliver better experiences).

These two examples pinpoint to a very important principle in customer experience: the one-size-fits all approach is dead. What suits one customer will not necessarily please every other single customer. What truly matters is whether a sizable share of customers will approve and go in the sense of these unusual customer experience strategy ideas, with the belief that this will indeed transform their interactions for the better.

Acknowledgements: Gustavo Imhof