All Our Palaces of Discovery

Jul 14, 2020 · 3 min read

This article was originally published March 29th, 2019

I coined the term ‘Palaces of Discovery’ back in the first edition of Smart Retail in 2003 and have written constantly about discovery ever since. Yesterday I was delighted to finally hear a retail CEO use my phrase in a big speech; not only did Dixons Carphone chief Alex Baldock announce his desire to make stores ‘palaces of discovery’ in his Retail Week Live keynote, but almost every mention of the speech also lead with the phrase.

There’s a neat summary of the speech here, well worth a watch. Baldock’s words excite me hugely; I agree with everything he says in that summary, in his main talk itself he also mentioned doubling investment in data, which feels like the perfect accompaniment to this new strategy.

Measuring the customer appetite for and the impact of discovery, trust and of the human-to-human experience is going to be critical. Too often we’ve seen principled attempts to move CE store CX — away from hard-sales, warranties and white-socks to discovery and people-led alternatives — fail as senior leaders’ nerve falters in the period of change. Without the right metric, what might appear to be soft ‘nice to haves’ are cut as understandable but misguided instincts to return to basic standards creep back in.

That’s where Friction/Reward Indexing slots in perfectly. FRi captures the value and impact of all aspects of the customer experience relative to each other, especially those softer items: Is price dominant over trust? What’s the ROI on investing more in customer-centric training? Which specific trust and discovery levers have the biggest impact?

Here’s how we recently used FRi to understand the most likely US store in which three customers might fulfil their mission to ‘buy a Nintendo Switch (click for full report) — a challenge similar to ones Dixons Carphone must also solve.

If Alex Baldock’s vision is real, he and Dixons Carphone need this metric; more than NPS, CES or tools of that ilk; FRi is specific in it’s ability to most effectively guide investment and effort towards the aspects of Baldock’s strategy that are also, coincidentally, the toughest internal and City sell.

To build Palaces of Discovery, that customers trust and want to engage with; you absolutely have to understand the weight and impact of the frictions and rewards those customers encounter. Without the guidance of FRi, this is a significantly more difficult delivery task.

A little freebie for you: here’s the chapter on discovery from the 4th edition of Smart Retail.
Free for you to download and keep, with thanks to Pearson plc for their kind permission.

The Uncrowd