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By Ambit on September 22, 2022

Excellence is the New Normal in Retail

"How can we do business if our stores are closed?" This was a question Dylan Weymouth, GM of Group Business Operations at The Warehouse Group asked Ambit CEO Tim Warren back in early March 2020, days before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Little did we know how true Dylan's words would be when COVID-19 arrived in New Zealand and stores nationwide were forced to shut down. With customer service centres fast being inundated with thousands of enquiries, businesses had to figure out a solution fast.

In this panel discussion held at the most recent iMedia Online Retail Summit event, Dylan Weymouth and Sarah Gunn (GM of Experience at TheMarket) share their thoughts on why excellence is the new normal in retail and;


Watch the presentation below:



"Customers may not even notice you've made their experience more efficient, but they definitely come back because it is.”

- Dylan Weymouth, GM of Group Business Operations at
The Warehouse Group



Dylan Weymouth and Sarah Gunn speaking to Tim Warren about excellence in retail

Exceeding customer expectations in a pandemic environment


Dylan Weymouth of The Warehouse Group has been at the forefront of traditional retail for over 20 years and represents iconic Kiwi brands, including The WarehouseNoel Leeming and Torpedo7.

In the past few years, Dylan saw online shopping accelerate "by several years". With online orders increasing, the teams at fulfilment operations had to shift from their traditional mindset to an agile one - and become faster, slicker and more efficient to keep up with the growing demand.

"We doubled down on fast fulfilment," Dylan said, "making sure that our team members at our central locations and our stores can pick online orders fast, whether it's for click-and-collect or for delivery."

On the flip side, startup business (a company of The Warehouse Group) looks after 6,500 brands and was better prepared than most to deal with the pandemic due to its already agile nature. However, working from home was no easy feat, nor was managing anxious merchants who were unsure of what they could (and couldn't) sell with government guidelines changing all the time.

Sarah Gunn and her team had an idea; why not contact customers before they needed to get in touch with TheMarket to locate their parcels?

With that in mind, customer service reps reached out via email to customers to let them know of specific dispatch and delivery timeframes, and that the team were on top of order status and tracking.


"When a customer has to ask where their order is, they're already annoyed. However, when you flip that and say, "We see your order has been dispatched and should be with you by now. We are going to look into this and get back to you."

These customers were thrilled that we had been honest and upfront with them, so were happy to wait for longer to receive their package."

- Sarah Gunn, GM Customer Experience at TheMarket



Raising the bar on customer service and experience 

Where once Net Promoter Score (NPS) and online customer experience used to be more of a "nice to have," expectations have shifted. Now, companies are rewarded by being active and responsive to their customers, no matter the time of day. But this is not without setting expectations.

"By having more dynamic delivery timeframes, based on actual data of how our retailers are shipping, their true days to dispatch and delivery timeframes, we can track the expectation that customers have all the way through their journey," stressed Sarah.

TheMarket adopted the unique approach of contacting customers before they needed to get in touch with customer service about the whereabouts of their parcels. This proved to be successful for their NPS scores (which were consistently high), and was a clear indication that customers trusted the company to do the right thing and be honest from the get-go if packages were going to be late.



For The Warehouse Group, improving the online customer experience became imperative. Dylan says he "has always been big on removing clicks, steps, taps and minutes from a customer journey, whether that's online or in-store."

It's all with the intention of providing a seamless purchasing experience from cart to checkout. To date, The Warehouse Group has managed to save over 200,000 minutes a year of interaction time that was immediately reinvested back into the customer.

"You can find optimisation and efficiency in a lot of different ways - such as on the self-service checkouts," Dylan said. "It's all about making the customer journey faster, more efficient and a better experience." 



"Whether it's online or in-store, we really focus on the customer journey.

From the moment they walk in the store, find the products they want, all the way to checkout, taking just one tap out of the self-service checkout means that customers get straight to the point faster, and don't need to waste any time."

- Dylan Weymouth, GM Business Operations at
The Warehouse Group



Optimising the customer journey through data insights


Leveraging data and insights with Ambit's technology played a key role at TheMarket. Using this customer data meant that the business could provide effective customer service and timely email communications that were highly relevant - especially when things didn't go to plan.

"We use data to trigger the appropriate proactive communications to customers when we know their expectations are not going to be met," said Sarah. "This is so we don't let them down."

Over at The Warehouse Group, they've been busy optimising their customer journey by improving their app. Now, customers can save all their receipts in one place, meaning that if they ever need to make a return or get a refund, the process to do so is seamless.



"We want to make sure we're investing in scalable solutions that reduce our cost and provide a better overall customer experience.

Working with companies like Ambit lets us understand customer sentiment and helps give us insights so we can send out the right communications at the right time.”

- Sarah Gunn, GM Customer Experience at TheMarket




What does a stable CX look like now?


Considering how much the retail space has changed in three years, it's only natural to ask what a 'stable' customer experience looks like to each of these businesses now as opposed to then. 

For Sarah and TheMarket? It's all about strong retention of retail partners, strong customer loyalty and continuing to do what they are doing right now in a straight line upwards.

Dylan viewed it as giving people time back in their lives, meeting and managing the expectations of customers and always being honest about them.

"We've got different experiences across our brands... one day we'll be thinking about The Warehouse, Warehouse Stationery or Noel Leeming and they all have their own different expectations and are at different levels.

We're trying to build them all up so that we can exceed the customers expectations when they come in. And I think you can always achieve that just by giving time back.

Published by Ambit September 22, 2022