While the early days of the pandemic forced many retailer and brick-and-mortar stores to shut down, it also encouraged many companies to explore hybrid retail opportunities to meet the needs of their customers.
In a recent Power Session, the NewCampus community sat down with IKEA China’s Head of Digital Design, Momo Estrella, to learn more about the design principles and strategies that created IKEA’s top-notch in-store and online customer experiences.
Here are some of our top takeaways from our chat with Momo.
With the pandemic perpetually hanging over us, physical stores have had to adapt to the new norm. Momo’s role as a leading digital experience designer is to accelerate a seamless change, to transform IKEA as a physical traditional retailer into an omnichannel organisation that connects the customer, shopkeeper, fulfilment centres and products through technology
Momo illustrates with an example: “If I think about the entities and touch points between customers and the store, what opportunities for design do I see? Or if I consider the store, the shopkeeper and our smartphones, what unique experiences can we create with these elements?”
But this wasn’t just a hypothetical example for IKEA. In 2020, IKEA China first launched their WeChat mini program as it forays into e-commerce, enabling their Chinese customers to buy IKEA products online. Since then, the China HQ has remained committed to digitalising their retail experiences with new and unique ways, such as opening the first virtual store on Alibaba’s platform.
When it comes to choosing the right design and product strategy, Momo offers one concrete tip, that “there are no facts inside an office, only opinions”. He encouraged being more reliant on facts, credible research and observable data when making decisions.
“We need to look at data so we can absorb the reality of what's happening in the world and then respond to that,” Momo adds. “The better you can understand that data, the better you can craft a strategy that hits the nail on the head.”
He recalls the time when his team wanted to experiment with using a QR code on the price tag as a new way to shop at the store—you would scan the code on WeChat and make your purchase online. Despite initial skepticism about the idea, once they found a way to measure its performance, they were able to judge that it was a valuable feature to implement—something that wouldn’t have been possible without collecting objective data.
To do customer-centered thinking right, Momo points out it is crucial that we become a ‘problem-seeker’ as opposed to a ‘problem-solver’. While problem-solvers are like a team of firefighters trying to put out a fire, problem-seekers are a group of doctors diagnosing nascent issues and treating them before they get worse.
That said, it isn’t like we shouldn’t be ‘putting out fires’ or solving problems when they arise, but putting the effort into developing problem-seekers could help a company pre-empt sub-par customer experiences and thus design superior products.
Ending off the session, Momo recommends two books that will prime any layperson with a good sense of design principles for business, as well as how to create digital user experiences customers will love:
NewCampus Power Sessions are a series of live talks and group mentoring sessions, featuring experienced industry leaders, influencers and game-changers.
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