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The New Normal Of Retail Brand Experiences


The New Normal Of Retail Brand Experiences

About two years ago, the rollout of the new KPN retail brand experience began. KPN is the largest telecom and IT services provider in the Neth­erlands, employing around eighteen thousand employees and operating more than one hundred stores.

The reason that we want to highlight this particular new retail brand ex­perience is that it is revolutionary in both its user experience (UX) and customer experience (CX) and in its application of technology. This new concept is already paying off in dividends through higher revenue and improved connectivity between the online and offline experience.

The easiest way to describe why this is the new normal is as follows: instead of wall-to-wall shelves, cabinets, and POS (point-of-sale) materials, this store doesn’t have any cabinets or shelves on the walls at all. The moment you walk in you begin asking yourself, “Hmmm, what’s so different here?” This is when you see that all of the walls, with the exception of the glass entry, consist of floor-to-ceiling digital screens. The functionality of the screens varies. On some, you are able to touch the screens in order to configure a phone or contract, and others display branded videos and relevant content.

You may think, so what? We immediately start thinking about how this has come together from an organizational perspective. There are great possi­bilities to consider here.

Firstly, by plastering a retail environment with screens (smart walls), you almost eliminate the need for traditional shop-fitting. A different set of vendors are required in order to create an experience like this, which is bad news for the traditional shop-fitting industry.

Secondly, there’s the need for continuous availability of relevant content. Due to the develop­ment of new technologies such as infrared, Kinect, touch, RFID, and more, the requirements for content are completely different from what they used to be in the old retail branding world.

Thirdly, imagine the impact not only on vendors, but also on the organi­zation’s internal set-up. Like many retailers, KPN used to be organized to accommodate supplier and vendor products and services. As this world is now changing radically, it means that there’s a need for retailers to radically reorganize internally in order to keep up. Some functions are disappear­ing, and other functions with new requirements for different skill sets are being created in their place.

Lastly, the need for IT connectivity is different from what it used to be. It is no longer a matter of IT being used only for transactional functions and security. Now IT needs to ensure a seamless exchange of data and interactivity on the screens and the many functionalities that come with it. In order to ensure that the correct information is displayed in the right place at the right time, excellent internal coordination between marketing and IT is crucial, where previously they had never been this closely connected.

Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Marc Cloosterman, CEO, VIM Group. Excerpted and adapted from his book Future Proof Your Brand.

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