Redbean - Australia’s second largest supermarket chain, Coles, has a new CEO, Ian McLeod. In his first public appearance the AFR reported that McLeod was “horrified” by the state of several company-owned outlets. He then went on to provide a valuable insight for anyone considering the experience design of their organisation, products or services. It is not one single thing that provides the poor or great experiences - it is a combination of a number of things.
Macleod who has been touring supermarkets in Europe and North America has been appointed to turn around the ailing chain worth an estimated $US15 billion. He listed the “operating standards, the display, the cleanliness, the infrastructure, the range and the availability” as the key culprits but went on to say that people are not “going to suddenly see a blinding light of improvement”.
Experience design is insidious. It is only through careful attention to both the big operational factors and the tiny and seemingly irrelevant nuances that a good design, and hence experience, can be achieved. But their value has been made clear in this case. Several billion dollars has been wiped off Coles’ value as the market realised what the customers did long before, that the place was rundown and out of touch. Run your business into the ground and pay the price.
Rebuilding the experience let alone the confidence of 100,000 staff and the millions of customers will be a tough assignment. A major overhaul is required especially considering the public’s growing dislike of the impersonal processed food chain.
In the past ‘Big Fix’ operators in white shirts and skinny black ties would be called in to do some business reengineering. That might still be appropriate for the supply chain logistics but my advice to Coles is to engage some experience designers. People who can modernise the supermarket experience by integrating the customer information and interaction in a way that makes those customers come back week after week because they want to - not just because it is cheap.