IKEA builds bridges between online and offline

Happy New Year! During the holiday break I paid a visit to the local IKEA store here in Essen. I was amazed, how well IKEA has tailored its (mobile) website to the needs of onliners planning to go to a local store. A very good cross channel experience.

I visited their website in advance to make sure, everything I need is available in the right quantities. The site immediately changed to the mobile version when I accessed it with my iPhone and I was able to check stock levels for the store nearby. All of this went without any need to log in. Even saving items on a virtual shopping list was possible without an account. During the store visit, the site allowed me to tick-off the items already in my cart (green ticks on the left).

IKEA mobile site
IKEA’s mobile site acts as stock level check and shopping list
© 2014 IKEA

IKEA has done an excellent job in connecting the Online and the Offline world with their mobile website. This experience was very helpful because IKEA:

  • made it easy to access their site thanks to the mobile design
  • provided a tool to help me prepare my visit to the local store (shopping list & stock check) and
  • supported my during my store visit (ticking-off items on the shopping list).

Funny enough, this seems so little but had such a big effect on improving my shopping experience. To enhance the customer experience even more, I would love to see three additional features.

  • The information on where to find the items is of little use for the customer. It would be more helpful to know in which part of the exhibition or the pick-up area the item is located. This helps in narrowing down the area to search for it. Or even in-door navigation through WiFi…?
  • When I had finished shopping, I was not able to get all the items on my list despite the fact they were listed as available. Stock probably got broken or stolen and this can’t be accounted for in the system. When stock levels are below 10 pieces it would be more helpful for customers to tell them stock is “very low” or “as good as empty”. This prepares them for the fact that a shelf might be empty when they reach the store as it happened to me (with the website still saying seven pieces available).
  • The last part of my wish list would be a button on the mobile shopping list that allows me to place an online order with all the items I did not tick-off during my shop visit. It would complete the Online-Offline-Online customer journey during an IKEA visit.

Despite the three wishes at the end of this post, I was very pleased with the work IKEA has done in connecting the Online and the Offline world. No app or account was needed to give me great tools that made my live and my shopping experience easier. Good job!

Have this pair of jeans your way

When every medium-sized website personalizes its content to each individual visitor, the real world can’t stay behind. This came clear to me when I strolled by the Levi’s Tailor Shop in Berlin last week. Next to buying almost every model currently available, you can also have your jeans fitted or altered or even let the guys there renovate the worn-out one from the back of you closed. Watch the video from the NYC store to get the idea.

LEVI’S TAILOR SHOP PROMO (Directed by Raf Moses) from rafmoses on Vimeo.

 It is going beyound mass customization

Levi’s started out with its legendary 501 in the 1890s and for many decades, there was no need to enlarge the number of jeans models significantly. Checking out today’s shopping world, I find 199 Levi’s models for men with a quick search at Zappos.com. With the tailor shop concept, the possibilities have become endless.

While you can have your new car configured to almost every aspect you care for, the old concepts of mass customization always build upon an individual customer and a product and manufacturing system that offers a wide range of combinable options. Man facing a fixed system. The new setup puts another human into the game. Now the customer can interact with the tailor in the shop and share his ideas on how the new pair of jeans should be customized. If everything goes well, tailor and customer will eventually create something that was not even envisioned by the customer before.

In terms of the customer experience, Levi’s delivers two things at their store concept: Truely personalized goods that can’t be found somewhere else and a very close relationship between customer and brand as the brand helped to bring the personal closing style of the customer one step further. Well done!

Join me in Berlin on the CX Management Summit

Less than a month ahead, the 4th Annual Customer Experience Management Summit will take place in Berlin. The conference will offer a variety of speakers from telecoms, banking, airlines and hotels and will be held from 8th-10th of October 2013 in the Steigenberger Hotel Berlin.

As part of the very exiting program of speeches and case studies, I will be holding a presentation on how to weave customer experience into the hearts, heads and hands of an organization. So if you are around the corner and the program sounds inviting to you, I would be happy to see you there!


(image source: welu-berlin via flickr.com)

Imperfection is a virtue

Recently we were given a box of chocolates as a present. The outer box looked somewhat neutral. It had no print on top, just a yellow ribbon around the box with a little tag that stated the name of the shop. Box, ribbon and tag told me the average age of the shop’s customers will be something around 50+. The fact that my aunt gave the chocolates as a present to us supports this assumption pretty well.

Box of chocolates
Box of chocolates (Source: own stock)

When I opened the box, I saw the chaos that you can see on the picture above. Far too much of the transparent foil had been used to wrap the chocolates and there was not really an order in the way the chocolates were put in the box. The sweets themselves had little imperfections here and there, not because of bad packaging, but because they were obviously hand made.

What happened to me as a customer? At first, I was disappointed by the loads of foil and the chaotic presentation of the chocolates – it was feeling cheap. But this impression lasted only for some seconds until I took the first chocolate out, saw that they were hand-made and tasted them. At that moment, the pieces fell together: small shop, probably existing for decades, hand-made sweets, true craftsmanship and a little imperfection here and there that show that this is authentic and not designed for perfection until it hurts.

My take-away from this: Too much perfection can lead to an uninspiring experience for the customer. Experiences should stay authentic and be proud of their little imperfections.


(Image source: own stock)

Watch your customers’ mental bandwidth

In customer experience, we care a lot about making customers happy and are having a close eye on NPS, CS and others. Those measures are then used to judge the impact of a single communication or service measure upon the customer. In large corporations, these “single” touch points with the customer can add up massively, when departments don’t align what they do. This is when a customer gets three letters from the same company that suggest four ways of getting an issue resolved. One from sales, one from service and the last one from the logistics department. So shouldn’t we first determine our customers’ mental bandwidth and how much of that bandwidth they grant us?

Your product or service is not the center of the world

You all know the drill. Your job and the industry you are working in is the most important thing for you during daytime – and sometimes also after having returned to your home and family. But what about your customers? Ask yourself how important the product or service you are providing is for your average customers? Check how much time a customer spends every day, consciously using your product or service. Assessed with Herzberg’s Motivator-Hygiene theory in mind, where does your product or service belong to?

Customer bandwidth has become a scarce resource

Now, wipe the tears from your eyes if you have realized that your center of gravity falls into your customers’ “hygiene” bucket. Your are in good company. There is a lot of noise out there and every company tries to grab the customers’ attention. Our customers on the other side have only a limited bandwidth for us as they also need to care for their work, their family and all other things that are in their “motivator” bucked to use that analogy again.

Mind the context and you will be relevant

For a customer experience professional that means that the context the customer is in is very relevant. Ask yourself how much bandwidth a customer will have in the situation that you are designing your service for. Will there have been noise before entering the respective service stage? How much time do you allow for the action/ transaction to happen? How much information do you provide for ask from your customers? Will the customer be on top of things or is the situation new for her?

If you thoroughly go through your service design and design for minimum bandwidth use with minimum distraction before and after, you have a good chance of getting your message across and providing an excellent customer experience that does not leave any open questions to your customer.

(Image by Jacob Earl)