The Art of the Customer Journey: Highlights from MITX 2019

February 8, 2019
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We attended the MITX Commerce Summit in the beautiful Wayfair offices in Boston, and took part in a day full of great stories from retail thought leaders. The event attracted a thoughtful mix of established global retailers and innovative challenger brands discussing the benefits and challenges of a topic we know very well: customer journeys.

During a day where global retailers discussed the vast sums of time and money they invest in their customer journeys, we were given the opportunity to discuss how customer journey hijacking may be siphoning off significant revenue. Most brands are not aware how heavily influenced their shoppers are when presented with injected unauthorized product ads, pop-ups, and banners intended to divert them to competitor sites or other promotions. During my presentation, I highlighted the fact that retailers can improve their conversion rates by upwards of 2 percent by addressing this problem.

All of the speakers delivered incredible presentations —and here are a few insights that we thought were particularly important to online retailers.

“We look forward to customers coming to us with issues in their journey. This creates an opportunity for us to create an amazing experience to deepen our relationship.”

Burrow Co-Founder and CPO Kabeer Chopra delivered an engaging presentation that showcased the depth of thought involved in creating a successful retail brand. Each component of their online and real-life customer experience – ranging from USB ports embedded in sofas to offering customized customer journeys powered by proprietary algorithms – is created with the intention to make their customers say “Wow!”  

Burrow’s philosophy is based on the acclaimed BOSS model that is built upon retailers understanding how their customers shop, and then building a tailored experience around that journey. The company has made significant investments in building a close relationship with their customers and has executed online campaigns humanizing their brand. Oftentimes, Chopra says, these campaigns aren’t intended to generate revenue; instead, they are meant solely to position the brand as someone that “customers would want to hang out with on the weekend.” These activities range from launching an immersive mobile app that drives conversions to a tongue-in-cheek texting service aimed at helping customers get out of social commitments. Burrow has differentiated itself by acting like your buddy, not a furniture company.

“Don’t bother trying to compete based on ease of transaction. Amazon is already the best and you don’t have the infrastructure or capital to compete.”

XRC Labs Founder and Managing Director Pano Anthos moderated a lively conversation with Ministry of Supply’s VP of Operation Brian Kennedy to talk about the emerging companies’ innovative approach to the customer experience.

Pano kicked off the conversation with a concept he calls “story market fit.” He believes that the modern consumer no longer cares about the tech and specs behind a product and instead cares more about how products fit into their lives. Differentiation no longer relies on creating the best product; it’s all about stating a common problem and showing how the retail brand solves it.

The primary problem that retailers should solve, Pano continues, is time. Time is the one constant that cannot be leveraged, multiplied, or used in any advantageous way for anyone on the planet. People get angry when their time isn’t respected so retailers should build their customer journey around helping people solving their problems quickly and efficiently. No one has time to waste in a mall anymore, so efficiency is key.

Kennedy had similar insights, and showed how committed Ministry of Supply was to customer experience when discussing a new technology it just implemented in its flagship store on Newbury Street in Boston. The company recently shut down Boston’s busiest shopping district so it could deliver an innovative new 3D knitting machine from Japan with a giant crane. The goal is to eventually roll out a new program where consumers can create customized sweaters with the machine within a few hours in the store to highlight Ministry of Supply’s scientific roots and brand positioning. Customized clothing isn’t going to be a major revenue driver for the retailer but incorporates an amazing element that builds mindshare and brand loyalty.

In a more pragmatic sense, Ministry of Supply also dramatically streamlined their martech stack and eliminated data silos by removing five disparate point solutions. Kennedy mentioned that the move to a single platform made it easier to manage their online customer journey while also “getting out of the way of our salespeople.” Ministry of Supply wanted its salespeople to help customer make purchases as easily as possible and aligned their tech strategy to reach those goals.

Additional Noteworthy Insights and Quotes:

  • GasBuddy CEO Sarah McCrary had some interesting insights into how to create new consumer habits. Rather than forcing technology on your users, build a bridge experience that helps users adapt. The company’s goal is to enable mobile payments but the fuel economy in the U.S. cannot support that vision yet. Rather than wait, GasBuddy offers customers a branded gas card that ties together their online and physical experiences while also enabling mobile payments where possible.
  • “The customer experience was daunting, challenging, and expensive for men. We know that if we could simplify all of that, we would generate repeat customers.” – Diana Ganz, Co-Founder, The Groomsman Suit
  • “We strive to make our social experiences shoppable and our shopping experiences to be social.” – Jessica Jacobs, Director of Marketing, Wayfair

Improving the customer experience is at the core of what we do at Namogoo. We’re proud to be part of this vibrant retail community and look forward to continuing to learn and succeed together.

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