Zappos Labs is a division of the beloved online shoe retailer dedicated to predicting what their consumers want before they even know it exists.
Mashable sat down with Carrie Whitehead, Zappos Labs’ product and user experience manager, and she says the future looks bright for retailers of all kinds, as long as they understand that their main mission is to serve the customer when they want to shop, how they want to shop—no matter when, where or how that might be.
The future is all about delivering the right custom experience at just the right time to entice a customer to buy. Zappos does that via its Labs by looking at its own customer data and by forecasting both market and industry trends. Then, the team there creates a customer experience in line with what their research reveals.
Whitehead says that the line between the physical store and the online retail experience is increasingly blurred. She tells Mashable:
But I think what it really comes down to is being there for the customer regardless of where they are or when they’re shopping. Being able to be there for them and provide for them wherever they want to shop, whenever they want to shop. That’s just an approach we’re looking at. What that means exactly, I think, it could mean a lot of things depending on the context of the user.
The future shopper will cease to think in terms of silos and instead, retailers need to be ready to capture their attention by taking a holistic approach. Everything, says Whitehead, can be seen as an interface.
What’s fascinating to us about Zappos Labs is that it even exists at all. WalMart is approaching retail in a similar fashion with it’s own WalMart Labs, a technology and retail think tank focused on the fusion of retail, social and mobile trends. Both Zappos and WalMart labs are located on the West Coast, with easy access to the best thought leadership and cutting-edge technology that Silicon Valley has to offer.
That’s a heavy financial investment in both research and development, but it is paying off big for both of these brands.
What’s clear is this: Brands that approach commerce as an on-going research project continually delight and surprise their consumers by not only identifying and capitalizing on current trends, but also by knowing what their customers want before even the shopper knows it.
How does your company approach innovation? Are any dedicated resources set aside for this kind of research? Tell us in the comments or tweet us @FutureCommrce.
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Photo: theritters, Flickr