Take a moment and think about the last time you had an exceptional shopping experience.

Now, do the same for the last time you had a really poor experience.

It’s these moments that make-or-break brands, with being 'customer-centric' becoming one of the most important factors to deliver on in 2021.

Customer experience, as a concept, has been around in the retail world for decades, however, it’s gained more traction in recent years as it continues to be overstated while under-appreciated by many marketers. In this arena, truly customer-centric brands live and breathe their customers. They are laser-focused on providing extraordinary experiences, disrupting their industries and are often rewarded with growth and increased revenue.

In today’s article, we’ll help you understand why customer experience matters and which brands are paving the way with winning customer experience strategies. Each of the examples below delves into a unique way each of these brands are upping their customer experience delivery, from digital solutions, immersive in-store experiences to deeper customer relationships. We’ll conclude with something that you might find useful to improve the customer experience for your business….

Let’s dive in!

Uniqlo’s In-Store Neuroscience Stylist

Point of difference: Interactive in-store technology

Check it out here:

Do you ever find yourself with so many clothing options, yet still indecisive on what to wear? What if someone could make these decisions for us? Meet UMOOD.

The Japanese retailer, UNIQLO, integrated a neuroscience-led approach to their in-store shopping experience, providing customers choices of what to wear based on their current mood.

The idea for UMOOD was centred on helping customers choose a t-shirt that perfectly suited their current state of mind. Customers were fitted with a neuro-headset to read their brainwaves while they watched a series of stimuli videos. Based on their neurological response to each video, a custom-built algorithm recommended a selection of t-shirts to match how they were feeling. The in-store activities were supported digitally through an Instagram adventure, online surveys social content and blogger outreach, as well as digital and OOH media.

Using the technology this way resulted in an activation that was not only innovative and science-based, but highly engaging for consumers as well. Uniqlo understood that sometimes greater choice can cause more havoc for customers, seizing the opportunity to create an app that not only sparked customer engagement - but a life saviour too! We’ve seen neuroscience infiltrate the way advertisements influence the purchasing behaviour of customers, so it’s only a matter of time before leading brands, like UNIQLO built similar services into their in-store experience.


Point of difference: Winning customer service and engaging merchandising

Lush Energi Article (1)

If you’re a regular Lush customer, you may well be familiar with its unique in-store experience.

Once considered a niche cosmetic brand offering an odd mix of ethical dedication and a distinctly sunny personality, it has since broken through its fringe niche into the mainstream. Today, it's globally renowned as one of the progressive and innovative leaders of its category - especially when it comes to customer experience.

Lush employees are known for going the extra mile, striving to create friendly, memorable, and personal interactions with shoppers that aren’t based on retail transactions. It’s been reported that staff use ‘facts of the day’ in order to connect with certain emotions. So, if the weather outside is dark and gloomy, Lush might aim to counteract this mood by recommending particularly bright and cheerful products.

Each store is reminiscent of a grocery layout, with customers encouraged to pick up, smell, and touch items as they go. This experience embodies a theatrical element - allowing the brand to charge a premium for household brands of everyday products like soap, shower gel, and shampoo. This interactive service style is not to everyone’s taste, however, Lush’s customer-centric strategy remains an integral way in which it differentiates itself from the rest.


Point of difference: In-store experience

Olympic partnerships, celebrity endorsements, sponsorship deals - the global powerhouse, Nike, has the sportswear retail game sewn up.

Nike energi article (1)

With the iconic "Just Do It" brand’s successful track record, you might question the need for innovation at all. However, retail is, and always will be, as competitive as the Super Bowl – Only here, calling ‘timeout’ isn’t on the cards. Seizing every opportunity to bring the best in sports technology to its in-store shoppers, Nike has been busy opening up a number of flagship stores around the globe and its new venue in SoHo NYC is one of the very best.

Sporting facilities such as an entire basketball half-court with adjustable hoops and digital video screens, customisation shoe bar allowing shoppers to fully personalise their Nike Air Force 1s, to dedicated coaches to put customers through their paces as they test out new sneakers; it brings a new meaning to ‘experience-driven retail’ through elevating every athlete’s potential.

Nike’s approach goes beyond what was once possible in-store; creating an environment where sports and fitness enthusiasts can collaborate, purchase the latest footwear trends and gain insights into their performance potential.

nike-2 (1)

Indeed, the flagship is still a retail destination above all else - only one that is optimised for the purposes of encouraging shoppers to try out the products on sale in energetic, spirited, and importantly, personalised fashion.


Point of difference: Winning social media content

spotify (1)

It’s not often that a company can so seamlessly integrate itself into social media – but Spotify’s approach is hitting all the right notes for their customers.

Spotify is leading the pack with their social customer service strategy, and they’re having all kinds of fun! The popular music streaming company prides itself on initiatives such as what it calls “Random Acts of Kindness” - surprising customers by sharing a song or a playlist based on their individual music taste.

Mind = blown, as far as the customer is concerned! The brand’s brainwave is to link up the names of the songs on the list to the situation at hand. That their customer service team does this in tandem with the amazing power of its Twitter handle (@SpotifyCares) - has resulted in a deluge of grins across the inter-web. They have taken what can be a mundane task and transported it to extraordinary lengths by doing two basic things to deliver an exceptional customer experience: play to their strengths in a way that’s specific to their product and thinking out of the box.


Point of difference: Winning customer loyalty programme


To be truly customer-centric, you must understand your shopper’s values. TOMS, one of the world’s largest shoe manufacturers and retailers, has chosen another way to offer their loyalty programme. They do not give rewards in the form of points or prizes as offered by other retailers, but an opportunity to make a real difference on a global scale through ‘One for One’.

With every sale, customers earn incentives that allow them to donate shoes to people in need of a better future. The program originated with the brand donating a pair of shoes to underprivileged children with every shoe purchased, but it has now grown to help ensure access to clean water, improved maternal health care, and supporting other organisations such as the Wildlife Conservation Society.


Today, TOMS has delivered over 60 million pairs of shoes to children in need around the world. This scheme has provided them a unique opportunity to connect with shoppers in meaningful ways - and proves that a loyalty program does not always have to be a financial incentive, but something that appeals to their values and sense of worth.

As you can see, these giant brands understand the importance of creating a winning customer experience and make it their priority to provide a top-notch service.

What now?

While it might be tempting to think that only big brands have the capabilities to dedicate so much to this, in reality, it’s very simple. In fact, with a smart strategy, any brand can do the same.

With the plethora of options available to your shoppers today, how can you best measure your customer experience to ensure your front of mind at their next purchase decision? Start seeing the world through their eyes with Shop with Me.

Our brand-new Shop with Me platform is designed to elevate your customer experience to the next level, allowing your brand to walk in your customer’s shoes and truly understand how they feel when engaging with you. Find out more here…

Article Written by India Ludbrook, Account Executive, Energi