Consumers are evolving and on the rare occasions that they go in-store, they have higher expectations from the in-store experience.
The new 4P’s in marketing reflect the importance of customer experience, exchange with the customer, evangelism through the customer and being every place for the customer. The customer becomes fully in control.
Bringing attractive and responsible fashion, and improving the quality of customer service are Zara’s priorities. The customer is at the heart of their unique business model, which includes design, production, distribution and sales, therefore Zara understands that experience is key and focuses on getting customers in their stores by being the first high street clothing retailers to offer in store technology to lift the customer experience. By offering an in-store experience that customers will talk about, Zara creates and Army of brand loyal shoppers.
As a brand, Zara has a focus on functionality, in fact it’s one of their values. So it’s not surprising to know that they’re offering a range of practical, innovative solutions to help their customers out in store. They’re using augmented reality in some of their stores, allowing customers to use their phones to see models wearing selected styles when they click on the sensors in store, or in the AR-enabled shop windows or mirrors, along with self service check-outs.
Zara are known for having the latest clothes trends, so why not in-store technology too?
Recently when shopping at Zara I was asked if I wanted to use the self-service check-out to avoid the queue I was in. I didn’t even realise they had this option, so I jumped at the opportunity, knowing Zara and what they stand for as a brand I expected it to be a smooth process.
Self-service check-outs were introduced as a quicker, convenient alternative, but my experience was anything but.
The concept as a whole is great, instead of having to scan each item individually like you do at the supermarket, you put your items in the check-out area and it automatically registers what items you want to purchase due to RFID codes. Which is a great time saver and worked well, but I’ve read reviews online about the wrong RFID being attached to some products and therefore scanning as the wrong item.
With most of the items in Zara being quite high priced ticket items, they all have security tags, so after paying, you have to remove the security tags yourself…
Unfortunately, nobody warned me about this, and being in a rush, I bagged my items and headed towards the exit, only to be stopped by security as I tried to leave because I set the alarms off.
So after showing the security guard my receipt and explaining that I’d paid using self-check out he marched me back to the tills and revealed the two security tags left on my items. A team member had to come off the tills then to remove my tags for me, completely defeating the point of ‘self-service’.
This was probably my own fault for not checking for tags but when you’re in a rush, used to having it done for you and there not being any communication around to inform you about it, it’s not going to be front of mind.
I can’t help but wonder how many people will also make this mistake and whether they’re just teething problems?
Zara’s core values are beauty, clarity, functionality and sustainability which are completely aligned to their decision to introduce self-service check out across their stores. Their innovation reflects the way the clothing retail industry is heading, but in order to work seamlessly it needs to be rolled out confidently and in a user-friendly way.
As the consumers are getting more and more focused on the experience they receive in store, there is no doubt that self-service check out will disrupt the way consumers shop in stores in the future. It’s an expectation in supermarkets now, how long will it be before it’s an expectation across all retail experiences?