Skip to content

Dear Department Stores, It’s Time To Be Proactive About Your Customer Experience

April 13, 2017

Dear Department Stores, It’s Time To Be Proactive About Your Customer Experience

If Australian Department Stores weren’t already feeling the pressure of online retailers, they should feel it now. As news of Amazon’s arrival promises to shakes things up within the Australian market the threat to department stores is looming. A recent study by Nielsen1 shows ‘75% of Australians aged 18+ are interested in the arrival of Amazon Australia, with 56% stating they are likely to purchase from the Australian site’. The most popular categories of interest are Electronic Goods (67%), Books (61%), Clothes (59%) & Footwear (42%).

So what can our most loved departments stores do in preparation of this predator? First of all, they should take a leaf out of Paula Nickold’s book, the new managing director of John Lewis. Even though the business is in good shape, Nickold claims there is “a need to change and reinvent themselves” in the wake of the new generation of shoppers. She went on to state that “shops have to be more experience-led, where people can go for a mooch” and that one of the first things she did when starting her new role was to look back on the 150-year history of the company to look for inspiration.2

The best avenue for our department stores is to focus on delivering an in-store experience that ‘wows’ visitors, and it doesn’t have to be new ideas – there’s an opportunity to revisit the old stories which have worked in the past. For example, David Jones3 recently bought back the piano man in their iconic store in Sydney because there was customer uproar. It shows that sometimes it’s the little things you add in store that make customers feel good. This is the biggest opportunity that brick and mortar stores have to leverage off – delivering an authentic and luxurious in-store customer experience that’s memorable and encourages return visitors.

Here are 3 things we would do:

1. Get to know your customer and what they want

Not just with a focus on the products & services they are seeking in-store but also to gain an insight on their lives and the pain points they experience with everyday life. Seek to answer questions such as: How can we make their shopping trip an easier experience? Or how can the department store offer an escape from the ‘everyday struggles’?

2. Focus on how to improve each touchpoint the consumer has with your business

Look at how the customer engages with your business, what are the interactions the consumer has with you? Are there any weaknesses at these touchpoints? For example, do they research you online first? If so, is there relevant information that answers their questions? 


The time to act is now, start rolling out those improvements to enhance the experience. It’s harder to gain back customers once you’ve lost them – and seriously, the threat of Amazon is real!


Written by Lucy.





Listening to Reid Hoffman’s new Masters of Scale podcast this week reminded me of the work of Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersma. In 1997 in their book The Discipline of Market Leaders Treacy and Wiersma described three competitive strategies that businesses could focus on – operational excellence, customer intimacy and product leadership: An operational excellence Continue reading

Last week the air conditioning in my car stopped working and the heat gauge in my car was unusually high. You can imagine how cross this hot old lady got. I rang the people at my local Midas where I have a new relationship and explained my dilemma. George, Mr Midas, suggested I bring the Continue reading


Get Hooked

Subscribe to the BrandHook newsletter to receive access to our influential video Entrepreneurial Consumer