Asset: What’s the Matter with Seattle?

Blog Post | September 27, 2018

What’s the Matter with Seattle?
See the asset Share the page
Messaging

Why are Seattle retailers so much better at customer experience?

When we interviewed Prof. Barbara Kahn of The Wharton School, she astutely pointed out that companies like Starbucks, Nordstrom, Costco, REI, and Amazon – despite being quite different in other ways – share two things: They do an excellent job delighting customers and they all hail from the Emerald City.

When I mentioned the theory to various Seattleites, they perked up, surprised, and billowed with civic pride (“Oh, I never thought of that – but it’s true, isn’t it?”). But then they furled their brows. It’s a puzzle, each said, given the “Seattle Freeze.” The Freeze, for those less acquainted with the Pacific Northwest, is the well-known tendency of Seattleites to be insular, cold to strangers, and, at times, almost passive aggressive. And yet they do right by their customers.

It’s a paradox – one beyond our power to solve. But even if we can’t fully answer the “why,” we can at least examine the “how.”

To investigate, we traveled to Seattle and dropped into the Nordstrom and REI flagships, the Starbucks Roastery, and the Amazon Go and Amazon Books stores to see how they approach customer experience.

Defining customer experience

At its simplest, customer experience means knowing what your customer wants and finding creative, pleasing ways to meet their needs. It’s a mixture of many factors, from the product on the shelves, to the visuals and displays on the walls and endcaps, to the friendliness and knowledge of the store associates. It’s the unquantifiable ambiance that bonds retailer and customer, and keeps them loyal to each other.

So, how do the Seattle retailers approach it?

Amazon Go

A recent and surprising invention from the online giant, Amazon Go feels like the world’s nicest and most hassle-free convenience store, but with gourmet meal kits added in for good measure.

There are no cashiers. You download an app, scan a barcode to get inside, then simply pick things up the shelf and walk out when finished. It’s self-checkout minus the checkout. A few minutes later, you get an email confirming that your credit card was billed for the exact items you selected. It’s the ultimate innovation from a brand famous for making shopping frictionless.

It strikes an immediate chord with some folks. Just after I walked in, four guys – around late 20s, early 30s – walked in, as if central casting had had them waiting outside on standby. “This is absurd,” one said, taking in everything from the salads to the Doritos, starry-eyed. “This is exactly the way life should be.” His friends nodded along in equal wonder.

In terms of product, Amazon Go contains the staples you’d expect – Coca-Cola, Clif Bars, AA batteries – but also features a broad wall of (algorithmically?) designed salads and sandwiches that, by all indications, fly off the shelf. Around the corner, another wall is full of meal kits for two, an ideal choice for millennial couples craving more speed and spontaneity than Blue Apron can offer.

The store itself is compact, but feels bright and open. In one corner sits a small sitting area with microwaves and charging stations, so you can wolf down your lunch and scroll through Instagram before not-checking-out and returning to your office.

What, meanwhile, is the role of the staff? According to one employee (who recommended I try the gummi worms), it’s not as different as you’d think. “We don’t want to be in the way and intrude on the experience,” he said. “But we’re very involved with our customers – much more so than at a place like Safeway, where it’s hard to ever find someone. We train our associates to engage with people. That’s part of why our customers keep coming back.”

That’s one question outsiders have raised: whether people will keep coming after the novelty wears off. Others say the technical setup, apparently dependant on advanced cameras that make the no-checkout program possible, isn’t scalable.

Some of this ran through my head as I sat in my hotel room later, devouring my bag of gummi worms. But I mostly thought about how much fun it was.

Continue to Part II: Amazon Books.

Tags
  • blog_posts
Add a tag
Social Media

Download Image

Fill out the form to generate your link

What is a UTM and what does this form do?

A UTM is a set of parameters added to a link that tells Google Analytics how that visitor got to our site. And this form helps you make one!

Don't forget, whatever you fill in here will be seen by whoever you share the link with, so be sure not put anything in here that wouldn't necessarily be obvious or worse, could be insulting; ex. don't make the 'campaign' tier-3-prospects.

Please be sure to use all lower case, and dashes-instead-of-spaces.

If there is a gated version (behind a form fill), you will be able to select the gated or ungated (direct to the content) link.

Most common Zipline sources are:

  • linkedin
  • salesloft
  • paid
  • sales
  • qr-code
  • newsletter

The 'Source' is where the traffic is coming from, or the referrer.

Most common Zipline medium are:

  • social
  • email
  • banner
  • sem
  • event

Medium describe 'how' the traffic is coming to the site. So for example, clicks from LinkedIn or Twitter are coming through social media, so we simply call it 'social'. Another example is for email newsletter or direct sales email, the medium would be 'email'.

Current campaigns include:

  • zipline360
  • retail-talent
  • nrf
  • abm
  • holiday-comms

The campaign is an internal description of whichever campaign the link is a part of. Are you promoting an event like NRF? use 'nrf'. Maybe it's part of a new marketing campaign, then use the name of that campaign!

Term is optional, but can be used if there is a keyword associated with where you're sharing the link. This parameter is generally used to identify the search term used to find a paid ad for example.

Content is a good parameter to use when you are sharing multiple links from the same source/medium. If you have the same link in two different LinkedIn posts, you could use 'content' to differentiate based on the thumbnail used, or time of day. For example, 'Content' could be 'wed-afternoon' and 'thurs-morning' to describe when it was posted, or 'platform-thumbnail' or 'man-holding-clipboard' to describe the image associated with the link.

Your UTM link will display here after filling out the form