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Review the current literature on the Integrated Customer Experience and write a literature review which could be suitable for publication in an academic marketing journal.

Topic - Australian Retail Market (Coles)


PART A - Project plan, structure and chosen references.

Project Plan

Industry information

Coles Group was founded by George Coles in the year 1914 and the first Coles variety store was launched in Collingwood. It became a company in 1921 and in 1927 it was available in Melbourne stock exchange. Further, in 1985, the company merged with Myer Emporium limited and became Coles Myer limited. Later, the Coles group limited was purchased by Wesfarmers for $22 billion (Knox, 2015).

Products/services provided
The available products in Coles supermarket include grocery, meat, diary, bakery, liquor, apparel, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Coles headquarter is located in Hawthorn East Victoria, Australia (Knox, 2015). Presently, the Coles supermarket is one of the leading supermarkets in Australia.

Target Market
The Coles supermarket satisfies the requirements of all human beings, therefore the entire Australian population is the target market.


PART B - The literature review


The present report is based on integrated customer experience which is explained by taking the case example of Australian retail franchise Coles. Customer experience is defined as the interaction between an organization and the customers for a period of time. Coles is a part of the Coles group which is owned by Wesfarmers. The Coles group comprised of a full-service supermarket retailer that operates 749 stores. Moreover, it holds a liquor retailer that operates three brands in 792 outlets as well as 92 hotels. Coles aims to become the most customer-centric retailer in Australia. For this purpose, it has employed shoppers insight team and "Tell Coles" program in its various stores.

Customer experience is defined as the perception or feelings of customers on the basis of cumulative interactions with the organisation's employees, systems, products, and services. Integrated customer experience is the overall experience developed when the customers interact with a wide range of platforms or channels for a particular company (Lemon, & Verhoef, 2016). It is thus, considers as the key driver for sustenance and growth in the consumer industry. There exist four key drivers which stimulate towards positive or negative customer experience, which are: money, entertainment, time, and communication. The Coles group has approximately 18 million consumer transactions per week in its different parts and has more than 100,000 employees. According to the reports of 2012, the company earns more than $23 billion in revenue from its supermarket stores. At present, the Coles supermarket is available in all states and territories of Australia. It is the first supermarket established in Australia. It is characterized as a bundling service in which different suppliers meet up and the customers purchase their required products. Coles provides products that are convenient to their consumers. Presently, there is approximately a 31% market share of Coles in the grocery market.

Integrated customer experience
In most of the supermarkets, the choices have been restricted to increase bargaining power with the suppliers. On the other hand, the reduction in choices also restricts the consumer from buying products according to their desire. Similarly, in most of the supermarkets, the choice is measured through the total quantity of stock-keeping units (SKUs). While the customers of present society have become more sophisticated, connected and selective for different options. This creates an excellent opportunity for the businesses which propose to reach the audience who prefers quality rather than brand. Thus, it becomes crucial for an organization to improve and enhance the customer experience for a better marketing strategy. In this context, organizations employ multiple tools either digital or traditional to create an integrated customer experience. The various platforms that can be used to improve integrated customer experience include organic SEO, paid search, social media, and mobile. According to Steve Jobs statement, the organization has to create customer experience by working backward the innovative technology (Homburg, Jozic, & Kuehnl, 2017). However, vice versa does not hold true. Customer interaction can be improved by a business through involvement in multiple touch points across different channels. It is the responsibility all the companies to create clear processes for optimization and standardization of customer experience, and further use these data to modify their approach accordingly.

For effective integration of customer experience in different facets of the organization's routine activities, it has to incorporate five specific approaches.

• Defining customer experience - It is defined as an emotional concept and the output is dependent on the type of industry. For the Australian retail franchise, Coles, positive customer experience can be identified when a customer as more products to the digital cart or buying physically in the supermarket (Stein, & Ramaseshan, 2016). Positive customer experience also motivates mouth to mouth referrals to peers and friends. Thus, the company should define immeasurable customer experience which has a beneficial impact on the overall business. These forms of a measurable target will become an integral part of the final objective like customer retention or increasing sales.

• Evaluate the customer journey - in the present generation customers interact through multiple channels such as physical stores, mobile apps, company website oh, and social media. Thus, it is required to combine the e-commerce site, physical store, and mobile app into one single service. By collecting different data sets of customers the company is able to predict the future behavior of a customer. Further, it helps to create a personalized customer experience which in turn enhances customer loyalty.

• Connecting customer journey with experience - by evaluating the customer journey the company can create a path that will be helpful in driving customer experience and relate their emotional journey from their past experience (McColl-Kennedy, Zaki, Lemon, Urmetzer, & Neely, 2019). Furthermore, the customers would also be segmented on the basis of demographics, tenure, and survey data. Hence this acts as a data-driven action plan to achieve goals effectively.

• Generating a playbook - commencement of correlating between customer journey, customer profile and customer experience, the company can create a playbook for each customer defining the favorable and unfavorable approach. This acts as an appropriate approach for prioritizing individual customers and in turn deceiving the maximum potential impact.

• Receiving continuous feedback and improving - creating an integrated customer experience is not a one-time job, rather it is a continuous journey that requires regular improvement to remain up to date with the latest development in customer habits, changing technology and analytics (Laverie, Humphrey, & Bolton, 2018). Even a small interaction with a customer should be monitored and used for further requirements. Customers should always be encouraged to provide feedback about their experience.


Improving consumer experience effort by Coles

Consumers often face a dilemma of in making decisions related to spend and save their income. With an increase in product price, there is a reduction in purchasing power. While a reduction in product price increases the purchasing power of the customer. Thus, Coles always intends to provide products at minimum prices to its customers, so that they can decide whether to utilize the additional income in saving or buying other products. Lowering product prices is defined as an unambiguous approach towards the development of consumer. Since the year 2011, the company has reduced the everyday price of more than 2,000 products. This has created a real-time difference in the budget of most of the families. Before six years, Australian households are able to save only an average value of $640 per year through shopping in Coles. Presently, the Australian customers are able but for two loaves of bread which they are able to purchase from the everyday reduction in the product price. In the 2011 community report, Coles claimed that the company provides quality food at a low price. Since January 2011, it has saved Australian prices on almost 6000 products with an average of 10% (Merrett, 2019). On an 18-month period, the price of most of the products has fallen on an average basis of 4.1% (Johnston, Stafford, Pierce, & Daube, 2017). However, the price of cigarettes increased because of the changes in the excise system. Considering the financial year 2010 there has been a considerable increase in saving the amount for consumers in the financial year 2012 (Olstad e al 2017). Coles has always been trying to become a more customer-centric organization. In this consideration, the company tries to find out shoppers insight towards a continuous understanding from the consumers shopping experience at the stores. It believes that store experience is a crucial part of customer experience as well as designing marketing mix. A positive store experience helps in driving customer loyalty. For this purpose, Coles proposed to conduct a streamed feedback survey from its various stores. It provides an opportunity to learn customer service positive and negative experiences, which further provides an opportunity for driving improvement at its store level.

The Coles strategy towards analyzing customer experience comes into levels (Melero, Sese, & Verhoef, 2016).

• Operational - at the original level, it aims to gain the feedback of respondents and then getting it back to the operation manager for continuous actions for improvement.

• Store support - at this level, the collected feedback data is analyzed but identifying general insights as well as the improvement opportunities.

The Coles consumer's insight team how they are dedicated engaged with the representatives of operational team design technology towards the identified issue. In conjunction with this, a combined team of Coles shopper insights, operational group of Coles, and partner twist of Lime for 6 months doors driving an effective solution for customer engagement. For the "Tell Coles" program was introduced in 240 stores between 2009 to 2010 (Olstad, Crawford, Abbott, McNaughton, Le, 2016). A short training session was provided to the staff of each store on how to approach and motivate customers for participating in the program. The invitation program includes QR codes for launching the mobile version of the survey. Also to attract and invite customer's participation $5 discount is provided for every $100 grocery shopping as well as a monthly lucky draw of $1,000 (Knox, 2015). An ASP (active server page) and an SQL (structured query language) database were designed for reporting the results to different stores as well as store supports. The programmed dashboard displays the result of each week and helps to identify the required improvements as per the defined criteria. For the results are compared do you evaluate the user profile. In this regard, the store manager evaluates only the store feedback, and the regional manager will be given an aggregated result of all the stores in the specific regions. For making the task easier, an online analysis tool was also designed for allowing the team of Coles shopper insights to find out a deeper result. In 2015, the company also launched a campaign called "Coles fresh", where it aims to provide fresh food to the customers. Furthermore, the online platform "Click & Collect" provided by Coles acts as a critical part of their marketing strategy (Knox, 2015). This approach facilitates a shopping experience for consumers in a convenient and easy way. In this approach, because the most that provided with the great value, a wide range of products and fresh offers. The company also offers the facility of delivering products according to the specified time and location by the customer.

The outcome of Coles customer experience

Since 2010, the "Tell Coles" program is running successfully with an average of completion of 25000 surveys to date. This has become one of the largest research programs in Australia apart from the government census. The internal reporting dashboard of Coles has gained more than million-page impressions, which in turn has accelerated the customer base of the company. The estimated saving on the equivalent research cost over the entire life of the project is estimated to be above $4 million (Merrett, 2019).


In brief, the present has demonstrated the concept of integrated customer experience and the approach taken by the Coles group towards this approach. The consumer insight team and the "Tell Coles" has proved profitable for the brand. It is also evident that, over the past few, the usage of online service by the company has also been doubled in numbers as it facilitates consumers to choose products from more than 120 stores across Australia.


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