For LensCrafters’ Eric Anderson, technology is a major asset when it comes to providing the best in-store experience for customers. “The customer journey is changing, and we are trying to improve that journey,” said Anderson, president and general manager. “Digital is underneath that — it is an enabler that is allowing us to provide a great experience.”
It’s a strategy that has worked for the brand, Anderson noted, with the company’s more than one thousand North American stores turning around positive comps for the past eight quarters. In turn, the company will invest $500 million in capital over the next five years to change its retail footprint.
About halfway through the first year of this five-year transformation plan, technology has played a large part in optimizing the company’s brick-and-mortar presence, and, as such, the customer’s relationship with the brand. Anderson expanded upon this, citing three lessons for integrating technology into the retail arena. “Know what you want to be — don’t throw technology out there just because it looks cool,” he said, adding, “I’ve been under a lot of pressure to create an e-commerce site for lenscrafters.com, and I don’t want to do it until I can create a customer experience online as good as it is offline.”
When implementing change, he continued, it’s important to be flexible with what is employed, noting that Samsung Galaxy tablets were tested before deciding upon iPad’s for in-store use — and even then, the devices are leased. “Leasing is a good, tactical way to protect yourself so that you can always improve your platforms,” he said.
The final lesson Anderson provided was that while new toys, data and analytics can better engage the customer and enhance a store, technology cannot replace the in-store employees, who truly make the experience what it is. “You have to think about the people who are doing all of this. Whatever I put out there, I need to make sure it is simplifying [employees’] lives,” he said. “I want them to be motivated by the technology, as well.”