Jo Malone Is Right To Call Out Many Retailers For Being Lazy On Customer Experience

Jo Malone is an amazing person to meet. I know because I plucked up the courage to go and sit next to her for a chat while she waited for a cab in a quiet corner of a conference hall where she had just told assembled delegates her life story. It's a good one too. Dad was a magician, she was dyslexic, growing up was tough and money was tight. Nevertheless, she went on to build a world-famous brand, with a hugely successful exit, winning a battle with cancer and deciding she wasn't done yet. Time for just another business launch. This time a shop in London where you mix your own fragrances called Jo Loves. 

She now has an autobiography out and so is doing the media rounds and always coming across as that combination of person the cynic in you finds hard to imagine can exist, kind and hugely successful. A point she makes to Marketing Week, however, takes a shot at retailers when she accuses shop keepers of just being "lazy." By focussing on just product, she insists, the customer experience has been allowed to deteriorate. Thus, her new shop takes the approach of not only smelling fantastic, but it looks like a classy, modern wine bar where people get to interact with ingredients to make their favourite fragrance.

I have to be honest -- I think we all know she's got a pretty good point. When was the last time you were excited by going into a store? I've got to say I can still remember going in to Hamley's a couple of years ago around Christmas and being amazed by the amount of effort being put into demonstrating the toys on offer. Other than that, it's usually a pretty humdrum experience. In electrical stores, there's never anything being demonstrated unless you walk into an Apple Store and be shown all the latest goodies. Typically, you're left to peruse lifeless screens and silent speakers and make a decision worth a thousand pounds or more based on some jargon on a sticker.

Go into a department store and it can be hard to find anyone who actually wants to sell you anything. Fashion shops, when I'm dragged in by my teenage daughter, now just seem dark and loud with, again, nobody seemingly there to advise or show you to the changing rooms. And even in M&S, that trusted old friend, the last few times I have been there i simply couldn't track down a sales assistant for love or money. Same thing with Debenhams. Of course, some higher-end guys get it right -- I guess they can afford to. When dragged into Jigsaw, you understand what the brand is about as assistants line up to help. Same thing with Jack Wills.

Which brings me on to GAME. I'm not a big gaming fan, but when I saw last week what they have planned to roll out across UK stores last week, i truly saw a brand that gets retail. If you don't offer VR demonstration sessions, multiplayer games, augmented reality selfies with gaming characters and shop windows that double up as console screens (via their app), then you really are giving customers no real reason to come into your store. They might as well stay at home, and if they're staying at home, they might as well do the easy option of clicking on Amazon.

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