Maplin boss Oliver Meakin said the longterm winners in retail will be omnichannel retailers because human interaction “can’t be replaced”.
Speaking at the Retail Week customer experience conference, Maplin chief executive Meakin said: “I do not see how human interaction, which gives customers the reassurance they need, can be replaced.”
Meakin, who joined Maplin in 2012 and became chief executive in 2015, said: “Stellar customer experience is where customers are delighted at every point of the customer journey. It is possible to deliver good customer experience online, but human interaction is a critical element in delighting them.”
He added: “If you can not deliver across every touch point, I don’t see how you can survive in retail.
“The internet is brilliant for customers who know what they want, but the long-term winners in retail will be omnichannel retailers with a combination of online and bricks and mortar presence.”
Meakin said that, because customers want advice, only 40% of transactions in the technology sector happen online and 60% happen in stores.
Customer interaction currently exists in a number of forms, including face-to-face, over the phone, via web chat or using video chat, which Maplin launched in 2015.
Maplin, which Meakin said is “rooted in human interactions”, recently notched up a customer satisfaction index score of 92%.
He said: ”Many of our store colleagues love technology. It’s not a task; it’s their hobby.
“We don’t operate on a commission model. We allocate bonuses based on customer satisfaction and the individual performance of each store.”
Earlier this year, Maplin revealed plans to invest £3m in a price reduction initiative across products in-store and online in an effort to boost customer loyalty.
The retailer reported a 2.3% lift in like-for-likes over the Black Friday and Christmas period, boosted by sales of CCTV equipment and drones.