Doug Glenwright, General Manager, Retail Transformation, Tui Travel , is speaking at the Internet Retailing Expo (IRX) in March. Ahead of the event he spoke to Internet Retailing about the company’s new digital stores, the challenges and what delegates will learn from his presentation.
What is the reasoning behind the new digital stores?
Tui recognised that the service in its Thomson and First Choice shops on the high street needed to modernise with the changing retail landscape and customers’ multichannel behaviours. “We had to make sure that we stay relevant on the high street, that our presence represents the brand and lets people book however they want to,” says Doug Glenwright.
How joined up is the digital store with the online channel?
Glenwright makes it clear that the retailer didn’t want to just deliver a webshop on the high street but an experience that maximises the digital content that’s available to customers online but in a way that’s engaging and exciting as well as capitalising on service and its store staff. There is no pricing on the interactive elements in store since Tui wants customers to be inspired and be able to communicate their dream holiday to staff. “The website is brilliant if you know what you want,” says Glenwright but by visiting a shop customers can see the content filtered in different ways and get help from store staff if required.
What challenges did the implementation bring up?
The new store at Bluewater Shopping Centre is a “learning process” for Tui; a way to gain an understanding of how customers and staff are using technology. “Technology needs to be useful for customers and staff and easy to use,” says Glenwright. “It needs to surprise and delight,” and the end result is to give customers something that they wouldn’t get elsewhere. “It needs to add value to our shops,” he says.
Any learnings you can share now and what are you expecting to be able to share with delegates at IRX?
The Bluewater store has been open for 2 months and this has been followed by the refurbishment of a smaller store in Liverpool and a new store opening in Bristol. Because of size constraints within the smaller stores, the interactive table as used in Bluewater has been replaced by a tablet version and they don’t have an immersive screen in the window. This means that the cost outlay is lower but as Glenwright comments “we don’t want to limit the experience”.
The learnings are much more than a technology issue and more around staff behaviour and making customers feel at liberty to explore freely and interact with the technology. The training piece and recruitment therefore become important. “I’ll be able to share an holistic view of the project with delegates,” at IRX says Glenwright who promises to be completely honest about the project from conception through launch and learnings; including robustness and user testing as well as inducting new staff, changing existing behaviours and the resulting staff and customer experience and feedback.
Who or what are you looking forward to hearing or seeing at IRX?
Glenwright is excited about attending the Internet Retailing Expo for the first time this year citing the impressive breadth of future-looking case studies and omnichannel presentations. “Our design is as good as anyone else’s but we need to be continually developing and not rest on our laurels. Hopefully speakers at IRX will help highlight a lot that can be done.”
Doug Glenwright is speaking in the Internet Retailing In Store conference at the Internet Retailing Expo on Wednesday 26 March. See the programme for more details and register at www. internetretailigexpo.com