Customisation vs convenience. It feels like a counter intuitive customer experience equation.

I want to ask everyone reading this article a question. Would you sacrifice having the ultimate product or service, the one that is the perfect match and ticks your most important ‘personal taste’ and ‘way of living’ boxes, if you couldn’t have it as soon as you wanted it?  Hang on to your answer. Jot it down if need be. We’ll come back to this a little bit later.

Our ‘just browsing' and purchasing habits with in-store, bricks-and-mortar retail outlets have changed forever. Not just a little bit. Dramatically.

But how convenient?

As consumers who are becoming savvier, fussier, more demanding, with our retail dreams needing to be exceeded all the time, we have created a very large, very insightful big data race for every retailer worth their weight in sales.

The latest retail marketing term “Uberfication” is literally challenging businesses to review and plan improved strategies to meet ever-increasing customer expectation that products and services solutions being promoted to us, is stuff we want. Matched to our personal tastes.

“Personalisation”, “Customisation” “Uberfication” – these are all terms that show no signs of slowing down in retail terms. It really is a constant challenge for brands to combine meeting our customer standards with providing immediacy in terms of delivery and availability.

Once the playground of the local milk bars, petrol stations and high street strips shops, thanks to online retailer monoliths like Amazon, retail “convenience” is now referred to in Click-and-Collect and Next-Day-Delivery terms. But are we really talking about the same kind of convenience?

I find it interesting to think that 24/7, round the clock, global access online retailing has essentially made leaving the house a thing of the past. If we do leave the office or house to pick something up, these days we do it quickly; cramming in as much as is humanly possibly into one focused trip. It’s not a personalised experience, and it usually doesn’t feel convenient; more of a hassle.

Ease. Economy. Experience.

For brands to truly make it easy for us to get our products on-demand, how much do we sacrifice in terms of our personal brand or shopping experience? Are we being charged too much for premium delivery services, and is convenience now the shopping experience we are willing to pay for?

In retail, end-to-end, personalised delivery concepts are becoming a form of customisation that are adding to brands’ sales. ASOS’s "Precise" service is a benchmark example, letting customers choose their preferred delivery slot seven days a week inside business hours.

Retailers who have this type of technology available are consciously putting their customers in control of the purchasing and delivery options too. They are adding the ‘personal’ into what was once a transactional retail experience.

Dedicated ‘In-App” loyalty program “Skip” is enabling coffee lovers around the country to beat dreaded coffee queues at their favourite close-to-home or nearby-work cafe when they pre-order their food and coffee via their smartphone. Available at over 950 venues around Australia, users of the app can locate the closest queueless venue to their location, pay securely if they don’t have any cash, and, the most convenient part, pick up their order within 3 minutes!

So back to my earlier question…

Jimmy Grant’s a favourite souvlaki bar of many Melbournians, is one of the newest eateries to advertise that their menu will now be available to enjoy via UberEATS. Sounds great. For a minute. This brand’s original (and highly sought after) customer experience saw patrons cramming and queuing at it’s hip location in Fitzroy. Next, a series of additional stores opened in equally cool areas, each created with their own uniquely Grecian-inspired decor and exclusive menu items. Loyal consumers of these tasty “Souvas” could even download the “Gimme Jimmy loyalty program” on their smartphone. So how does this experience compare now you can order with UberEATS?

No doubt, retailers and restaurateurs like George Colmbaris are looking at strategies to become more proactive, offering customers flexible format stores, smaller retail footprints and more consumer-focused options. So for lovers of Jimmy Grants, the historical and cultural references found in the restaurant may be missing but the delicious flavours of the food can be experienced in the comfort of your own home.

If you would like more information on this retail shift, get in touch with specialist consultant Suzie McInerney on 03 8613 3516.