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Customer Experience for the Digital Non-Native

BY Dan Berthiaume

Retailers are urged to provide a customer experience fit for the “digital natives” of the Millennial generation, who have grown up with constant connectivity and limitless personal choice. These all-important young consumers need to be able to buy any product on earth at any time with any electronic doodad they happen to be surfing the Net with at a given moment, or so it seems.

But what about using IT to create a comfortable customer experience for digital non-natives? That doesn’t just mean old fogeys, either. I’m a member of Generation X, one generation removed from the Millennials, and I remember the days when ice cream came in three flavors and phones had rotary dials. While serving the needs of whippersnappers – I mean digital natives – is important, retailers should also be mindful of the experience their slightly more mature customers will find user-friendly. For instance:

Make Your E-commerce Site More like a Physical Store

This piece of advice may seem counterintuitive, as retailers have been hearing for the past several years that stores need to function more like websites. But while Millennials may appreciate e-commerce sites with lots of promotional videos, interactive games and personalized settings, many older consumers simply want to perform a quick web search and purchase the items they came looking to buy.

Thus e-commerce sites should be designed for easy navigation and quick product lookup, with the ability to ignore all the cool digital engagement stuff if a customer so chooses. Default navigation and product display features should err on the side of simplicity, with more engaging add-on features available at the click of a button.

People Who Need People

Retailers are increasingly using customer-facing kiosks, scanners, tablets, self-checkout terminals, and even customers’ own mobile devices to perform many in-store tasks that were once the province of human associates. For tech-savvy customers, this IT-enabled, self-directed store environment saves time and also extends store assortment and the amount of available product information.

However, for the less tech-savvy shopper, the sight of a human face in the store is a welcome one. Digital non-natives lose time trying to figure out how to manipulate self-service technologies and as mentioned above, are generally less interested in virtual extensions of the physical storefront. Well-trained, knowledgeable associates remain as essential part of the store experience for many consumers. Making sure that associates are fully trained in using self-service technologies ensures that even digital non-natives can benefit from them.

Generational Shift

The distinction between which technologies are appropriate for digital natives and which appeal more to older customers is fluid and constantly changing. For example, email is now generally considered a legacy technology and Facebook has little cachet with the under-30 crowd.

Retailers need to stay on top of what solutions are actually “native” to digital natives – making sure your marketing, design and IT staffs include a few Millennials is an essential step toward keeping up with rapid pace at which “leading edge” technologies lose their edge. What shakes up the of kids today is what inspires fond memories in the parents of tomorrow – which explains why acts like Pearl Jam and Guns n Roses are in heavy rotation on my local classic rock station.


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Target shareholders show displeasure with board

BY CSA STAFF

All 10 members of Target’s board of directors were re-elected at the retailer’s annual meeting on June 11, but there was strong opposition to several members and a proposal requiring an independent chairman nearly passed.

In the wake of Target chairman, president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel’s resignation on May 5, shareholders were asked to vote on a proposal to require the chairman to be an independent member of the board. The proposal drew considerable support with 45.8% of the shares represented at the meeting voted in favor of an independent chair. The roles of CEO and chairman at Target are currently split with CFO John Mulligan serving as interim CEO and board member Roxanne Austin serving as interim non-executive chair.

Austin drew a large number of negative votes with 22% of the 557 million shares represented at the meeting voted against her election. Board members who received a similar percentage of negative votes included Calvin Darden, Henrique De Castro, Mary Minnick and Derica Rice.

The largest number of negative votes were cast for Anne Mulcahy and James Johnson, with 36.4% and 37.1%, respectively. Mulcahy is the former chairman and CEO of Xerox who currently chairs the non-profit Save The Children Federation. Johnson is the founder of Johnson Capital Partners, a consulting firm, and also served as vice chairman of the private equity firm Perseus.

Not all board members incurred the wrath of shareholders, especially those who joined the board last year. Only 2.9% of the shares voted were cast against Kenneth Salazar. He is a partner at the law firm of WilmerHale and also previously served as U.S. Secretary of the Interior and was a Senator and Attorney General in Colorado. After Salazar, Douglas Baker was the board member who received the next highest level of support, with only 4.5% of shares voted against his election. Baker is the CEO of Ecolab.

“During this proxy season, we have had a productive dialogue with many of our investors, and we look forward to continued engagement in the weeks and months to come,” said interim chair Austin. “Along with the management team, we continue to focus on the following three priorities for Target: increasing U.S. traffic and sales; improving Canadian operations; and accelerating the company’s digital transformation to become a leading omnichannel retailer. While the search for Target’s next chief executive officer is ongoing, the board is working closely with the management team to make meaningful progress on each of these priorities.”

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P.F. Chang’s confirms data breach

BY Marianne Wilson

NEW YORK — P.F. Chang’s Chain Bistro confirmed Friday that it had been the victim of a data breach in which data was stolen from customers’ credit and debit cards used at its restaurants.

The company first learned about the security breach on Tuesday, and then "initiated an investigation with the United States Secret Service and a team of third-party forensics experts to understand the nature and scope of the incident, and while the investigation is still ongoing, we have concluded that data has been compromised," stated P.F. Chang’s CEO Rick Federico, CEO, P.F. Chang, Scottsdale, Ariz.

The restaurant chain is working with credit card companies to determine which cards may have been affected.

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