Perspectives

Returning to Serve Customers: What learnings can Retailers take from Wimbledon?

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Returning to Serve Customers: What learnings can Retailers take from Wimbledon?

Much like a tennis match opponent, today’s customers are a moving target with needs and habits changing frequently. Since the pandemic, customer expectations of the desired digital experience have significantly changed from what they once were – a complex challenge for retailers to continually adapt to.

In 2020, Wimbledon hosted its first digital only Championships – “The Greatest Championships” – and demonstrated once again that fan experience extends beyond what’s played during the tournament on the grass courts. Providing millions of online fans with a completely digital experience for the first time, we learnt that customer experience encompasses every touchpoint – from physical to digital – to ensure that continuity is maintained in the face of disruption.

For retailers, the real challenge – and value – is figuring out how they too can be best positioned to deliver new and inspiring experiences for their customers. To keep scoring points, they need to be ready to ensure that whenever and wherever their customers choose to engage, they are ready with an exciting and seamless customer experience.

So, what can retailers learn from Wimbledon?

Re-designing the Customer Experience for Digital

At Wimbledon, IBM is helping bridge the gap between the in-person and digital experience, so that fans around the world can enjoy The Championships in exciting and surprising ways and feel more involved like never before.

With storytelling capabilities at the core, Wimbledon’s digital channels provide an engaging vehicle for fans to enjoy The Championships. Last year, they were able to explore a selection of legendary matches – all remastered through AI capabilities – to bring new life and colour to old matches. Each fan could also interact with their own personalised feed with real-time scores, highlight reels, and match analysis. This year, fans will enjoy three brand new features via Wimbledon’s digital platforms – the IBM Power Rankings, the Pre-Match Insights, and the Personalised Recommendations and Highlights, to make it easier for fans to know who to follow, and to get more value out of their digital experience.

Today, retailers are also having to re-think how they can welcome their customers back. As footfall fell for many brick-and-mortar stores over the past year, returning to physical stores will now look far different. Digital will play a more integrated role for the physical store to aid convenience, experience, and personalisation – leaving retailers to consider what platforms can support these new experiences.

Re-inventing a seamless experience for both digital and physical requires new ways of thinking. For this, IBM’s Enterprise Strategy & iX teams work at the intersection of strategy, design and technology to define a truly human-centered approach, by design. This is all underpinned by IBM’s award-winning Garage methodology so that co-creation remains at the absolute core.

Unlocking Strategic Insights through Data

Across all 18 grass courts, Wimbledon has a 360-degree view of every point from every game, set and match, including serve placement, distance run and more – each touchpoint tracked and analysed through IBM’s data entry systems. But what if retailers had access to all the data insights they needed, so that they too could have a 360 view?

Simply, it would enable retailers to have the visibility along with insights on their customers, so they can build more convenient, personalised, and relevant experiences – driving customer engagement and long-term loyalty.

We know that the future of experience-led capabilities resides in the data that retailers use, so the challenge is not collecting the data but forming actionable insights from it. At Wimbledon, 4.5 million data touchpoints are collected and strategically analysed by IBM’s data scientists to provide insights that are immediate and truly value-adding. This is all supported by AI to inform and automate decisions, at scale.

This helps Wimbledon in their ambition to be the best tennis tournament in the world – a goal that could equally apply to retailers too.

Look Up: The Store is in the Cloud

The truth is, for an exceptional experience to be delivered, all parties need to be aligned. From supply chain, operations, merchandising to marketing, all elements need to interconnect to enable a seamless experience for customers. This requires enterprise agility so that retailers can adapt to each unique consumer experience, in complete orchestration and at scale.

But how can this be achieved? IBM Store in the Cloud enables retailers to remove silos and unify operations so that a truly seamless experience can be created – both online and in-store, without interruption. Cloud also enables retailers to capture, process, secure, and scale their data operations across all verticals, so that they can focus on what matters – serving the customer.

At The Championships, IBM’s hybrid cloud model keeps Wimbledon agile. It’s key to meeting demands and building a truly unified customer experience. In fact, IBM Cloud scales up 55,000% during The Championships to allow one billion fans to tune into what’s being played on each of the 18 grass courts. That’s pretty impressive, right?

What Next?

Wimbledon has always been In Pursuit of Greatness, and this ambition never changes. This has enabled Wimbledon to be globally recognised as so much more than just a sporting event. Its traditions are well known and cherished around the world – from strawberries and cream and the silence on court, to the players in white and the stewards guiding fans around the grounds.

This year, Wimbledon will return to serve fans through its digital channels and physically at SW19 too – providing a welcoming opportunity to show the world the very best of the action from The Championships.

The same opportunity presents itself to retailers. Customers are ready to return with an openness to new reimagined experiences. The future of retail is exciting, and the ball is now in the court of retailers to serve customers in the best way possible.

You can explore the IBM and Wimbledon partnership further here, and to see how we can put smart to work for you.

GBS Operations UKI Distribution Sector

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