SAP demonstrated a concept consumer app called “Snap” at its recent Retail Forum in Dallas. Snap provides customers with interactive 3-D assembly instructions for a vast array of products. The instructions are pulled from manufacturer CAD files and delivered via cloud after the customer scans a product barcode or QR code, with options such as zoom and audio. Snap even lets shoppers register products for warranties and automatically request replacement parts.
Snap is one of those ideas that makes you say to yourself “Why didn’t someone else already think of this? It’s so obvious.” SAP deserves all the credit in the world for developing what looks like it would quickly become a smash hit with consumers when and if it gets put into general release, but there is a very specific reason why nobody else in the retail IT community thought of Snap before now. Retailers seek solutions that help consumers spend money rather than solutions that help consumers. And what retailers seek, vendors help them find.
The Convenient Approach
Retailers need to get away from the mindset of designing solutions with the direct intent of increasing customer spending and toward the mindset of designing solutions with the direct intent of increasing customer convenience. Done correctly, there will be an increase in customer loyalty that will lead to better and longer-lasting spending increases than any solution simply designed to get shoppers to buy more and costlier items.
Let’s look again at the Snap concept to demonstrate exactly what I mean. Products that require assembly are a near-universal consumer nightmare. Even handy types do not look forward to reviewing poorly written and illustrated directions and sorting through countless parts, components and specialty tools (it seems every “assembly required” product comes with at least one proprietary tool you will never use again) in an attempt to create a finished product that matches the store display or picture on the box.
However, Snap applies advanced 3-D. mobile and cloud technology not to convince a customer to buy the product beforehand, but to make the post-sale experience much more convenient. The retailer does not generate any immediate additional revenue as a result. But here’s what does result:
Instead of tweeting about how awful their post-sale assembly experience was, the customer tweets about how easy and stress-free it was. The customer is less likely to return the product, especially in a damaged or half-assembled state. Beyond general feelings of goodwill toward the retailer, the customer also will be more likely to buy products requiring assembly, which are often big ticket, low volume items like large appliances and furniture, in the future.
Easy Experience Now, Hard Profits Later
It’s hard to place an exact dollar amount on these types of results, but it may well exceed the return on a simple cross-sell application. By no means am I suggesting retailers stop investing in solutions, such as cross-sell and upsell applications, which directly boost revenue at the POS. I am suggesting, however, they widen their mindsets to complement these types of solutions with solutions that focus on convenience first and let the profits follow. Also remember that not all convenience is mobile, but all mobile is convenience.