We’re all for formidable couplings here so it warms the cockles of our black hearts to announce that Deloitte Digital has joined forces with customer experience consultancy MashUp.
With the ink barely dry on the contract, B&T sat down with MashUp’s owner and founder Robbie Robertson (pictured above) – who is now a Deloitte partner – general manager Karen Spear and Katherine Milesi, Deloitte’s head of customer practise NSW to see how they plan to change the future of Australian retail.
“One of the things we’re seeing as an amazing opportunity is the uptake of digital,” said Robertson, “particularly within social and mobile activities, and apps and new technology coming through. We’re early adopters here in Australia and that’s having a massive impact on what we actually do within the high street, and what it’s going to look like in the future. We’re poised to become world leaders and change the shopping experience and I think retail is going to go through a metamorphosis in the next five to 10 years.”
Milesi said that after working on an assignment with Robertson a few years ago where he was the spatial designer, she realised it’s now not optional but mandatory for companies to think about the fusion of physical and digital.
“And that’s from a consumer perspective, a workplace perspective, a citizen perspective,” she said, “because the customer experience transcends one channel. Deloitte Digital is focused and specialised in the digital channel and we know consumers are using digital devices in store, so how does the digital meld with the physical in a department store for example, or in a service centre? It made a lot of sense and it takes a long time to build that capability so instead of building it, we decided to merge these two great organisations.”
On Friday Deloitte released its inaugural report, Navigating the new digital divide – digital influence in Australian retail’, which showed digital interactions influenced 40 per cent of in-store retail visits in Australia in 2014.
In terms of digitally-influenced retail sales, Australia comes in third (40 per cent) behind the US (49 per cent) and Canada (41 per cent), but ahead of Germany (30 per cent) and MashUp’s Karen Spear claims that while finance is leading the way when it comes to service, “it’s interesting to see how it’s now flowing through to FMCG brands which are starting to have to really consider how the digital and physical play together with their presence in different channels, whereas before, each channel was traditionally less focused on digital in the in-store environment”.
She added that customers want and require a high level of engagement and personalisation and that retail needs to step up.
Both Deloitte Digital and MashUp have been rebels in the financial sector over the last three years and claim smart phones have revolutionised banking. Milesi says the next big thing is the emergence of virtual reality and ecommerce.
“We have developed a virtual retail store,”she said, “so you can only enter if you’ve got an Oculus Rift headset, and you go into the virtual store and do things in that environment which you can’t do in a physical store, like changing the colour of clothing and seeing what it looks like on the mannequin.”
She claims that with Robertson and his 10-strong team’s expertise, they can make that virtual world more realistic and effective because they’ll be able to design the virtual physical experience while Deloitte Digital is thinking about the functionality.
“We’re living in an exponential technology world,” she added. “We’re in 2015 but think about what’s happened in the last five years with the absolute dominance of smart phones in our daily lives, and in the next five years we will be having very different experiences. Wearables are on the rise now and they will be absolutely mainstream and used for all sorts of purposes.
“When they introduce ecommerce into virtual reality, it could sky-rocket into a huge proportion of sales. That’s the next step. Ecommerce is being introduced into social media, with Twitter and Facebook, so you can buy it through there. It’s just a very short amount of time before it’s being used in a virtual reality world. When you think about it, it’s already there. It’s already absolutely embedded in all computer games. You’re buying nothing tangible, you’re just buying icons, or flags or badges. So the fusion of buying physical goods through a virtual store is not far off.”