Data will be the biggest driver for retailers in 2019, as stores become more astute at knowing who their consumers really are.

The Future Forecast 2019 Report goes on to talk about how smart retailers who use data to provide thought-provoking cultural experiences will prosper in this future.

We can see that the evolution of experience retailing is becoming more pervasive all the time with the introduction to stores of smart mirrors, skin scans, recommendation engines and geofenced VIP access.

All exciting uses of data that lead to (potentially) improved experiences for customers. This information that we share, whether consciously or not, allows businesses greater insights into our preferences. It (potentially) lifts the bar! Which means that, every time an experience is improved, it becomes the new ‘bar’ by which we measure the next one.

When the experience doesn’t match the expectations, we are, as customers, left feeling flat.

I have spent the last couple of weekends in pursuit of laptop and microwave replacements (they both broke down in the same week). Two replacement purchases, so I was just looking to continue as I had always.

In both experiences, I walked away from the incredibly helpful salesperson feeling buoyed and looked after, but the interactions after that left me with a blah kind of disappointment.

In one case, the third party repair/replace service was nothing like what the salesperson in-store explained, and in the other case – I had to wait in another in a queue to pay for my purchase whilst four (yes FOUR) people behind the counter did ‘non-serving customer’ activities.

In a ‘helpful use of my data’ moment, the store had my details from the last purchase. It was not, helpful to have to step through multiple ‘steps’ to complete the purchase.

Standing in a queue to put my credit card on the payment device is rather tedious! And it gave me time to count the number of people behind the counter not serving customers.

Whilst the cashier-less experience has arrived in Amazon stores, we have not yet refined the completion of the sales transaction into one easy interaction at the local Good Guys.

If it was possible to pay in the moment and go and pick up my microwave, I would have left the store with that (still) fresh feeling of ‘helpful service’.

The basics of dealing with the person in front of you first and foremost are stopping store experiences from being productive and pleasant.

A replacement purchase like a microwave doesn’t really need to be an ‘experience’; there’s a bit of product comparison but no real need to entertain me.

I don’t need coffee, donuts, styling advice or a free set of steak knives. A helpful salesperson and an efficient way to pay and get out of there would be most helpful to me!