When it comes to utilizing digital tools to improve the customer experience, even the biggest and most progressive retail organizations have challenges.

That much was evident at the recent Adobe Summit in Las Vegas, as several leading retailers described challenges they’ve faced as well as the progress they’ve made.

Albertsons Companies, one of the nation’s largest food retailers, was doing e-commerce and grocery delivery in the 1990s, but the company did not modernize and keep up with the times as much as they should have as technological evolved, said Paul Johnson, the company’s senior director of platform product management, during a panel talk.

In 2018, Albertsons focused on unifying the digital experience and expanding e-commerce and loyalty, and having foundational tools such as search, chat and recommendation, Johnson recalled.

In 2019, it plans to make seamless shopping a reality, expanding and enhancing marketing and focusing on the customer promise and will consider new business models.

Albertsons confronted a host of technology issues related to digital transformation to improve the customer experience, shared Johnson, as there were 21 different web experiences, search crashed once a month, there was no common CMS platform, APIs were limited and the tech stack was complex.

Data quality issues

On the data side, the company lacked a way to target and experiment, he said, as data was not trustworthy for pre and post analysis, and there was no instrumentation for technical data.

“If we couldn’t get the data, or couldn’t trust the data, we certainly couldn’t do things like experimentation and target,” Johnson said.

“Digital for us means digital across all the different ways a shopper wants to shop,” he said. This includes loyalty, coupons and offers, delivery, drive up and go, and order ahead, encompassing 21 different web experiences and 42 mobile apps for all the different Albertsons’ supermarket brands.

Rebuilding teams

Over the past year and a half, the grocer has been rebuilding teams that focus on customer experience. There used to be monolithic engineering teams and project teams focused on disparate parts of the customer experience. It went and built 15 product teams to focus on specific customer problems.

It unified the design language to unify the design across all the brands, he said, and also integrated loyalty with e-commerce.

“If we tried to tackle all of this at once, we certainly wouldn’t be on the stage right now talking to you,” he said. “Bite size releases were key to unifying the experience over time.”

Source: Retail Customer Experience