It wasn’t very long ago that engaging with most brands meant dealing with their disparate pieces. One 800 number for order status, a different one for delivery. Websites and physical stores that often bore only a passing resemblance to each other. Getting bounced from one department to the next to resolve a customer service issue or get a question answered. And then needing to start over again with each person with whom we spoke.
Then–slowly at first–some companies began to realize that customers didn’t care how we were organized. Customers didn’t want to hear about the limitations of our “legacy systems.” We may talk about channels, but customers don’t even know what that means. And they don’t care.
Upstart brands challenged the incumbents by attacking the friction in consumers’ path to purchase. Companies as diverse as Nordstrom, Amazon, Bonobos and Warby Parker made it their job to integrate the critical pieces of the shopping experience on behalf of the customer. They challenged the traditional verticality in retail and embraced the notion that brands are horizontal.
They assembled great ingredients and then they pushed “blend.”
As retailers we may be organized by the parts and the pieces. We may make decisions on discrete components. We may measure and tweak each variable in the equation.
But at the moment of truth, when the customer decides to enter our store, click on an ad, put another item in their cart or recommend us to a friend, she’s thinking about the whole blended concoction.