Retailers are taking customer experience to the moon. And it’s causing some seismic impacts across the warehouse and logistics sectors.
Entering the headquarters of REI in Seattle is a little like visiting a reclaimed island from the film Jurassic Park: the lush canopy and landscaping, the mounded woodland trails, and the long stair climb up to the store’s main level are immersive. But it turns out that is just the warm up: store associates invite climbers to experience new gear on their scaped climbing wall or to go back outside to use the trails to test mountain bikes. The jungle among skyscrapers, nestled along the Seattle Sound is a truly surreal experience for customers.
REI is not alone in riding the earthquake that’s shifting the plates of customer experience: The recently opened Ice Cream Museum of New York boasts a swimming pool of 7 trillion sprinkles and floating, edible balloons. And Audi has begun selling cars using virtual reality programs that allow potential buyers to take a car to the moon, scope out upgrades, or experience a 100 second pit stop.
Experiential retail is the wave of the future. It’s a tantalizing hybrid of the most complex shipping tech logistics on the planet, along with good old fashioned commitment to providing an amazing customer service experience.
But perhaps the most interesting surfer on the Experiential Retail Tsunami is Starbucks. Starbucks has introduced cupping walls, which means that guests get to pick coffees to try in small, freshly-brewed sample batches. If a guest likes a blend, it will be custom ordered and roasted for them.
So, that’s a neat way to find new coffee. But it’s the implications of the implementation that’s deeply fascinating and revolutionary. This model seismically shifts the current warehouse-to-consumer supply chain.
Instead of needing vast warehousing for products that may never sell and have a dated shelflife, or pushing products on customers that are only selected in lieu of a lack of options, companies only generate products on demand, while offering clients a broader line to choose from and a deeply unforgettable experience.
Ikea has long modeled the success of Experiential Retail. Jesper Brodin, Ikea CEO once recognized that this business model is an indulgence of curious minds, “Like most retailers, we don’t know exactly where we will land at the end of it, but our curiosity and willingness to create will be a guide for us.”
Fascinatingly, Experiential Retail adopts the Direct to Consumer model, while also providing a second, missing component. Personality.
This model solves the sterility of an Amazon or Ebay purchase: With this approach, clients can climb a rock wall overlooking the Seattle Sound, taste 38 ice cream flavors, drive the craters of the moon in an Audi, or find out that they prefer coffee sourced from Chile. And they can do it all in person, which is the missing piece for a lot of online consumers.
Online buying starves the senses–They miss smelling leather, hearing the quality of headphones for themselves, and feeling the texture of book pages.
The true winner in this new experience-drive-sales culture will be nimble logistics coordinators. “A majority of industry professionals (70%) predict that the supply chain will be a key driver of better customer service before the end of 2020. (Accenture, 2018)”
It is a complex pirouette in the ballet that is shipping logistics to coordinate complex needs at that level. Ironically, it also requires augmented customer service from logistics and warehouse suppliers, to provide flexibility and streamline high-pressure fulfillment projects.
We’re proud at Blue Eagle to be adaptive to our clients’ needs however they may shift. We operate logistically at the top of our game, and are vested in the timeliness and success of every order fulfillment. We know that the culture of sales will continue to evolve. We’re excited to meet logistics needs that arise every step of the way.
We at Blue Eagle seek to create unforgettable experiences for our clients: Because we know that there really is no substitute for experience.