A Customer Experience Agency

Omni-channel lessons from a furniture mart

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What store is bigger than 3 Walmart Supercenters, showcases over 100,000 pieces of furniture and is able to load up to 100 cars at once with merchandise? The Nebraska Furniture Mart.

The hunt

When an immediate need for a chest freezer hit, we price compared online and were surprised to find NFM took the cake on most competitive pricing and largest selection. However, their website experience couldn’t compare with the majesty of their Grandscape building – in fact I questioned the brand’s credibility and quality of products with such an uninviting design. The homepage was as busy as a sales flyer and product pages were clunky, but with its precise navigational organization I found chest freezers in a jiffy. I narrowed down the options based on specs, pricing, reviews and in-store availability, then crossed my fingers this was going to be worth the effort.

The prowl

Inside the store, interactive maps helped efficiently direct customers to departments. All price tags were digital and updated in real-time as employees combed through 18 competitors’ pricing and matched them instantly, eliminating that extra step for the customer. Apple-like customer service and payment capabilities allowed us to purchase on-floor instantly with an employee and their iPad.

The capture

For on-site pickup after purchase, customers were channeled through a lane to receive their order number with the product displayed on-screen to confirm accuracy. Then they were assigned pickup bays as employees carted out the products and put them in the cars.

How does this change the eComortar retail experience? (Read my Ligers post about omnichannel customers to catch up.) NFM has set the bar high for retailers, though we do have ideas on how to improve the website design and experience. What we know of the elusive eComortar’s needs is actually being practiced by NFM during the experience, including: price comparison, product details, additional reviews, ordering online/not waiting in line, etc.

How can other industries bring in more eComortar experiences for the customer? Let’s look at restaurants (because by now you know I love food).

Restaurants like Chili’s already have digital experiences like games and ordering at the table. Can they extend it to digital seasonal menus that eliminate the need to print food and drink items daily, based on ingredients or product availability? Could restaurants list out calories & ingredients and where said ingredients are sourced? How about allowing customers to customize their order digitally or providing wine pairing recommendations? Showing reviews from customers/critics, wait time on your order or even digital dinner bills? Can establishments with buffet lines have digital interfaces showing ingredients, time placed on the buffet and (this still floors me) actually list the name of the item?

Why is this so important? Why are we moving towards catering to this omnichannel consumer? It’s in the numbers:

Consumer behaviors are changing rapidly, and NFM looks to be doing their best to meet them. By understanding customers and their behaviors, you can create conveniences and solutions that surprise and delight them. Retailers, restaurants, hospitality, and travel and healthcare industries need to think more creatively on how they can better meet these eComortar habits, provide more in-store options to better assist decision-making and, frankly, to anticipate customer needs and provide a seamless experience.

What other retailers are embracing their customers’ eComortar tendencies? Let us know in the comments below.