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The power of WOW

As I write this article I am recovering from Covid and WOW, who would have thought I would have caught it at a retail conference where there were thousands of people not wearing masks, talking to each other and shaking hands. Yes, I am being faceitious but it was worth it to see my family and friends in Australia and to get out and share ideas with colleagues from across the Tasman.

What did strike me at the conference was the lack of WOW being discussed in retail. There was a lot of the same; retailers sprinting a marathon, doing more with less and serving the same stuff, in maybe a different channel.

Delivering WOW has been a vital component to any massive leaps in customer, employee or shareholder engagement. Like or loathe him, Elon Musk does WOW with his ambition, ego and exploration. Amazon are the kings of WOW. Whoever would have thought that the best retail offering in the world delivers billions of dollars of streaming movie content as well as same day delivery groceries?

Businesses in all sectors really need to consider what is their WOW? If what you offer is similar to your competition, what makes a customer choose you? I listen to CEO’s telling me their offer is different or their teams are more passionate but really? Is that what you are telling yourself in the absence of being able to find and deliver WOW? Or if it truely is, are you cultivating it and owning it?

WOW’s can came in many shapes and sizes. It is that moment of the unexpected. When you thought, “wow that was great. I loved that. How impressive. That made my day”.

The biggest WOW’s of all time have come from businesses that embrace customer empowerment. Just think about the biggest WOW disruptors; Amazon in retail, Uber in taxis, Deliveroo in food & beverage, Myfoodbag in home delivery and Tend in medical. All solved a significant point of friction and empowered the customer to interact seamlessly.

I hope the following helps you find inspiration for uncovering or discovering your WOW.


As we watch the labour wars unfold in the US (and our own shores), we are thankfully seeing an appreciation of how important an asset our talent is and why we need to WOW them. Who would want to “turn up” and present “their best selves” for a measly wage, no healthcare and unreliable shifts?


  • House keepers can leave if they get their job done early or they can clean more rooms if they want to earn more money


  • Employees are paid to do a two-month internship with environmental organisations

  • They have a policy that when the surf comes up, you drop work and you go surfing

  • Activists are hired and trained to protest peacefully. Employees and employee’s spouses bail and court time/time off work costs are paid if they are arrested “Because we want them to be who they are”


  • Trust their staff with the autonomy to give a discount up to $250

  • Given the high order value the business doesn’t want to lose the sale and the possibility of a raving fan



Burger King broke into an entirely new market called Hungry People in Traffic™ (HPT). The Home of the Whopper tested real-time burger delivery to cars stuck in Mexico City congestion. The results were staggeringly positive, and the concept was rolled out in congested cities such as LA, Shanghai and San Paulo. With the help of several pieces of technology, including the Burger King app, real-time traffic data, Waze, and digital billboards, BK determine the most congested areas and when they get the most congested. When these locations are within 3kms of a BK, prompts were pushed to digital billboards and banner ads embedded within the Waze traffic app. The ads funnelled interested parties to the BK app for ordering, which could be done with voice commands to avoid texting and driving. When the food was on the way, the billboards reportedly change to alert customers. The delivery people, used Google Maps tracking then delivered the whoppers straight to cars. This increased App downloads by 44% and increased daily delivery orders by 66%.


Carvana is an innovative omnichannel platform for buying and selling used cars and it has recently launched its 32nd car vending machine in the US.

Standing eight stories tall with a 27-vehicle capacity the vending machine is designed to offer a convenient pickup option for customers who purchase a vehicle on Carvana.

Customers can use the Carvana platform to shop more than 70,000 used cars for sale; secure auto financing; use a digital car loan calculator; and purchase, trade-in, and schedule as-soon-as-next-day vehicle delivery in as little as five minutes. In addition to home delivery, Carvana customers in Houston and other markets with a car vending machine can also choose to select a day and time convenient for them to pick up their vehicle at the automated car dispensing location.

Customers can also sell their current vehicle to Carvana and receive a real offer in as little as five minutes, without having to purchase a vehicle. All 70,000-plus vehicles in Carvana’s national inventory come with a seven-day return policy; as opposed to a traditional test drive. According to Carvana, this ensures customers have the right amount of time to determine if the vehicle fits their needs. WOW.


Occupying a whopping 5,500 sqm across eight floors of an ornate landmark building, WOW is a shopping destination that’s geared specifically for savvy Millennials and Gen Z shoppers as it effortlessly blends brick-and-mortar retail with digital shopping. I am off to visit this in July however, our friends at Superfuture explain the concept perfectly.

“The design theme, which actually sounds like a scientific experiment, is based on ‘nature-related technology that evolves with the capabilities of humankind, aiming for an ecological balance’. In order to fully capture the theme, the design practice built a 3D printer which recreated the ground floor, dedicated entirely to cosmetics and fragrances, from all the luxury houses to niche brands, into an intriguing marine coral landscape using  PURE.TECH  material which is known for neutralising greenhouse gasses.

The settings feature programmable lights which allow continuous changes to the atmosphere and effortlessly integrate with displays and installations. Additionally, large-sized Italianate sculptures, dipped in an electric pink hue and partially pixellated, dot the floor and serve as additional product displays. One floor up, WOW‘s on-point fashion sensibilities are displayed by way of equally alluring digital-infused settings, with entire backdrops continuously changing and stands which integrate a display system of both clothing and accessories.

This floor includes no less than twelve branded shop-in-shops and also features a so-called archive space.

The third floor is home to streetwear, and accordingly, the décor adapts, featuring three bays, one for circulation and two for display, crafted from shiny metal elements which integrate programmable lighting. This construction means constantly changing configuration to align with trends and novelties is a breeze.

On the fourth floor, the elaborate homeware collections are presented, once again, in a series of settings that blend with hi-tech. Recreating bustling city streets with a similar dose of hi-tech, the aesthetic here seems more distinctly transitional, signalling WOW‘s intentional and continuous transformation. Next to homewares, technology equipment, gaming devices and books can be found here. And as this is capital of a nation infatuated with food, the remaining top floors accommodate two restaurants.” WOW.


In breaking news last week, Online travel booking company Trivago has been ordered to pay $44.7 million in penalties by the Australian Federal Court for misleading consumers over hotel prices.

The court found that in January 2020, the company deceived consumers through misleading misrepresentations of hotel room rates on its website and in television advertisements. 

Trivago delivered the opposite of their customer promise, that “it would show them the cheapest rates” when it actually ranked hotels by factoring in which advertisers paid the highest per-click fee. The calculated cost to Australian users was about $30 million and was clearly intentional, not accidental.

It will be incredibly difficult for Trivago to survive the total loss of trust from the Australian public and this WOW will reverberate for years to come.


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