BY Capgemini
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IT trends spotted and checked by experts


What happens

In the last holiday season, mobile surpassed desktop shopping visits for the first time. Yet, according to a Capgemini survey of 18,000 retail customers in 18 countries, physical outlets remain the preferred destination for shoppers and 72 percent of the respondents say instore shopping is "important or very important."

so what?

Services Director for Darty

Vincent Gufflet joined Darty over a decade ago where he is now its Services Director and a member of the French retailer's executive committee. Prior to his position at Darty,...

Customer demands are evolving so that digital technologies are becoming an integral part of in-store retail shopping. While most customers rely on online and mobile connectivity for shopping, they also still enjoy shopping in physical stores. Immersive retail experiences must thus integrate digital technologies consumers want and use when shopping at brick-and-mortar sales outlets. A key example of such a technology that offers an extra level of service to in-store shopping is the Bouton DartyŽ. It allows customers to contact a Darty representative by pressing an actual physical button at the customer's home or a virtual one on a smartphone.

How do immersive retail experiences bridge the gap between online in-store shopping?

We have first sought to develop a strategy that differentiates us from the competition by offering customers new retail technologies, such as equipping our salesforce with PC tablets. This way, we gave them the same tools our customers use. With the tablets, the customer journey becomes more effective for both the client and the sales staff who's able to check prices, product availability right away.
One of the main goals of immersive retail technology is to create an instore experience as fulfilling as it is online. The customer's experience in our stores has thus been structured in the same way as when shopping and looking for products online.  

Another major component of immersive retail is customer relationships. You should have access to customer and expert reviews about products when you are in the store, just as if you were in front of your PC at home. And, back home, you should also be able to contact the same salesperson you have just spoken with. The building of real customer relationships begins usually in a physical store.

How does the Bouton Darty®, an IoT service you launched in 2014, improve customers' immersive retail experience?

For after-sales service, when a customer buys a product and is happy with it, he expects the product to work, of course. When a product doesn't work, which obviously might happen, customers usually have to go online, call the store by phone, or wait for the technician to call or to fix it. This is a pain. 

The key point of our after-sales services with the Bouton Darty® is to remove this pain by offering a way of contacting customer support in an eyeblink. Twenty or 30 seconds after pushing the Bouton Darty®, which is directly connected to our support center, an operator calls you to solve your problem. And the service is universal: we assist you regardless the product age and the place where it has been bought. This service is also available in store through tablets, including a visio function directly connected to the support center.

How is the Bouton Darty® integrated into Darty's IT infrastructure?

The CRM has been integrated in the background. It registers the product number, gives the operator the list of products purchased by the customer, and highlights the most likely reason for the customer's call, such as if they bought a PC a few days ago. The CRM then sends instructions to the knowledge management base for specific products. So when the customer presses the button, our team already has this information. This reduces the time to solve the customer's problem.

What role do digitally enabled experiences play?

Retailers previously often invested in new technologies just because they were digital. This was a serious lack of ambition. The point is to use digitization to develop a seamless and amazing customer experience. We all know that the revolution we are experiencing is not only a digital revolution - it is a customer experience revolution. So why do we need to digitize our customers' experiences? Because that is what our customers want.

How will the retail experience in physical stores evolve?

What is new is that digitization has raised customers' expectations. Uber and a number of other startups have raised the level of awareness and expectations of customers about what is possible. That is very important. To match this expectation, immersive retail and other technologies must be on offer in a way that gives customers what they want.

Why must online, mobile, marketing, and retail store operations function together?

As an example, we developed the Bouton Darty® with the help of Capgemini's services and existing tools that we already had. When I say existing tools, I mean that we already had in place in our IT systems what we needed. What was missing was the glue that held them together, between the IT infrastructure, CRM, call management system, IT installation, mobile connectivity, etc. We leveraged existing systems to deliver the Bouton Darty® service in just a few months and also pushed our brand into customers' homes.

Who cares?

  Brands that realize offering immersive retail experiences is a key way to differentiate themselves from the competition and improve the customer experience, as opposed to investing in technology for technology's sake. 

Examples of how retailers have merged the best of both physical store and online worlds for immersive retail experiences:

- Customers at Starbucks' Roastery outlets around the world can learn about how high-end coffee is made by interacting directly with experts and "master roasters," learn about coffee manufacturing, and order specialty coffee and other beverages and high-end cuisine from Italy-based Princi.

- Amazon has opened physical stores where it makes e-devices, such as its Kindle Fire, available with physical books where customers can read reviews and ratings from the online store.

- Toys "R" Us' "R" Wish List lets customers create a gift registry online with a smart phone or tablet or onsite. Customers can use a "magic wand" to scans toys that are added to their "R" Wish List and print out their registries at kiosks inside stores.
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