With supermarket sales reaching an all time high in the UK last Christmas, the grocery market is one everybody wants a piece of. By introducing pilot programmes like Amazon Go, the increasingly omnichannel operator has undeniably delivered an offline shopping experience beyond what most imagined possible.

Just as the iPhone was proclaimed to be five years ahead of the competition at launch, it makes previous leading examples like Waitrose Quick Check, seem quaint. The experience is about as frictionless and ‘optimised’ as buying groceries in person is likely to get.

Yes, it may be tempting to streamline the experience and attempt to optimise offline conversions by sheer quantity. But is this really the only path?

From my experience working with some of the biggest retailers in the world, we see another priority just as often – one which focuses on increasing quality of the experience just as much.

Speed or service?

It’s hard to argue with fast delivery, minimal queues and quick payment when it comes to picking up a pint of milk. But this is just one dimension of retail experience.

Sometimes though there are situations where we want to take time on a purchase. We may want advice or have questions, especially about items with much higher value and consequences.

We are seeing just as many brands focus on these customer types. Increasing their most important interactions with their highest value customers, to build loyalty and stand out from the crowd. They hope that developing a trustworthy relationship with your customer will count when it comes to serious purchasing decisions.

For other businesses, this model provides them with the opportunity to broaden the scope of their offering by building up a better understanding of their customers’ needs and wants.

A perfect fit

Take for example, department stores.

Ultimately, their ‘value-add’ is the expertise of their staff…