Biz Sch News 03 October 2019

Experience matters in retail

The consumer experience can make or break a brand especially when competition intensifies, according to Andrew Au, Executive Director, Asia-Pacific, Eight Inc.

Andrew was speaking at the latest edition of the Asian Business Series where leaders are invited share their industry insights.  He talked about “The Return on Experience,” and how his firm creates immersive retail experiences to improve how businesses interact with their customers.

Eight Inc is known for creating the design concept for Apple Stores where products are displayed on uncluttered tables in brightly lit open spaces. According to Au, these signature features reflect Apple’s brand value.

In the early days, even Apple’s founder Steve Jobs had doubts about the success of the physical stores. Andrew shared the story of the founder asking Eight employees on the eve of the first Store’s opening “What if nobody comes to the store?”

Fast forward more than a decade later and the stores have contributed to Apple’s market value jumping to US$850 billion from US$2.5 billion after the company launched its own retail spaces in 2001. Any doubts were quickly diffused by daring to be different and to do something unique.

BBA Year 2 Cherie Lim, who was the student emcee for the event, believes this truly reflects Apple’s DNA to “Think Different”. She truly believes that while rivals can copy design features, the customer experience is a unique emotional connection that cannot be replicated elsewhere.

“I learned from Andrew that we need to be brave to stand out in a crowd full of noise. Rather than being afraid of being judged, we must put ourselves out there to even get a shot at being recognised,” said Cherie.