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The magic glue for the hybrid shopper

Can you remember life before Uber Eats? Or Netflix? Or splitting a restaurant bill with your mate on a banking app or ordering your coffee as you walk through the Koru lounge to go and get your piping hot coffee while you wait to board your plane (well maybe few people can recall flying but I used my AirNZ app to get my favourite coffee last week and it was as easy and good as ever). Or in the case of my son finding and swapping his shifts with fellow team members on Facebook messenger.

Acceleration and adoption of new customer and employee behaviours as a result of the worldwide pandemic has put added pressure on companies that hadn't already adopted a digital strategy to supplement their physical presence with e-commerce alternatives. It also drove shoppers to utilise websites, apps, and other methods like click and collect pickup to get necessities. For me, never forgetting my dog food and flea, tick and worm treatment is solved by Animates repeat delivery. Seamless. Forget me not proof.

Once physical stores began to reopen, though, we were met with a new consumer — one who came back with additional expectations for the same convenience and touch points they grew accustomed to during the global shutdown but expecting all the convenience of the solutions that were amplified in the pandemic. Luckily though, as we have had to revert to some of those again. In short, they have a higher expectation and comfort level with toggling between different modes that their Customer Service expectations have shifted dramatically.

This looks like customers who first check product inventory before venturing into a store because of the supply chain shortages. It’s them paying with payWave technology and BNPL (buy now pay later) so they can get what they want now. It also looks like diners ordering food through a mobile app to ensure it's ready upon arrival; or shoppers taking advantage of click and collect pickup if they're short on time; or customers collecting groceries from a contactless locker. The hybrid shopper.

But these demands come from humans involving a mixture of decision making that is both or exclusively functional, rational and emotional and it can change each and every shop dependant on their requirements for that day.

The magic glue revealed

If you haven’t read the 2011 book Thinking, Fast and Slow, I’d suggest you do. Author and 2002 Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman is known worldwide for his work on the psychology of decision making and behavioural economics. He presents a pretty simple theory: If you want to nail customer experience, you need to understand how your experiences make people feel. And you need to make sure that they make your customers feel good. And the key to this is EMPATHY. The magic glue.

Empathy – defined as “identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives” – is key when it comes to delivering a great customer experience.

Those companies that really get “the magic glue” take the time to understand their customers and make a concerted effort to apply these insights to every aspect of their business, ranging from new product development and call centre training to the retail environment. Customer Experience Strategy is still often overlooked in businesses who I know are aspiring for the elusive CX gold. This strategy requires a respect for customer research (not just getting research to prove a point or to measure some internal KPIs), a commitment to talking to your internal customer at the front end (yes – absolutely getting them actively involved in solving the real problem) and actively listening until you can specifically identify the point/s of friction. I know some very intelligent teams that think they do the above but always create a journey around those internal systems and processes that they simply aren’t hungry enough to tackle.

Amazon 1-click

As the story goes, one day over lunch between Jeff Bezos and Shel Kaphan, the head of software development, Bezos said, “We need something to make the ordering system frictionless. We need to make it so the customer can order products with the least amount of effort. They should be able to click on one thing, and it’s done.”

A simple idea on simplicity, and Hartman took it literally. Sound like a no-brainer? “His general philosophy was to be friendly to customers,” recalls Hartman. “The focus should be on the customer, not on the website. It’s pretty obvious that a simple website is easier to use than one with of a bunch of fancy gadgets. He was adamant about that.”

No doubt you have all heard about the Amazon Go concept which started in the US and recently opened in the UK. Essentially it is a convenience store where you walk in, grab what you want and go. No checkouts, no interactions. As long as you are registered with the app on your phone voila! Amazon have gone a step further. You don’t need your phone and your app, just use your hand. Biometric payment.

Amazon unveiled late last year Amazon One a new technology in Amazon Go stores that lets shoppers pay for their groceries by scanning the palm of their hand. By analysing the shape of your hand and the unique configuration of veins under your skin, this technology can verify your identity the same way facial recognition does.

What starts with seamless shopping has application across many industries. Imagine entering a sporting or music event with the swipe of a hand.

Before you start with all the jokes on chopping people’s hands off to get to the next Ed Sheeran concert, this example is purely to make you really think about the role of really nailing the frictions that exist for your customer (and team members) and how empathy plays a role in your business thinking.

We have long recognised the importance of understanding the customer journey, and all the touchpoints on that journey but true ground-breaking ideas that have been bred from an insight wrapped in empathy have the type of lasting mark that engenders true change, customer loyalty and advocacy.


Empathy in decision-making, CX, EX and marketing is the magic glue that will reveal the greatest leaders, businesses and retailers. Before you start giving yourself that pat on the back, think long and hard. Not many businesses in NZ can be really lauded with embracing and applying empathetic magic glue. RetailX have a number of proven models and successful applications to help get your empathy glue applied to the priority aspects of your business.

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