Fix The High Street Episode 1, Glasgow (full episode)

The Great British high street is an institution in all of our lives, that serves us from when we get our first pair of shoes to when we get balloons for our 80th birthday.

I’m Martin Newman and I’m a customer experience champion, and I want to put you, the customer, at the heart of our nation’s shopping experiences. Today I’m in sunny Glasgow, I’m talking to customers because I want to find out what really matters to them so that we can work out what we need to do to fix the British high street.

Do you shop online and offline?




You do both?


Is there anything that you would buy only online or only offline?

Makeup really.


Christmas presents really, that’s about it.

Christmas presents?


I’m not a great online shopper.

You’re not a great online shopper? Why is that, just out of curiosity?

I don’t like buying clothes or anything online.

So makeup, which channel would you buy that?

Online because you don’t get everything in the stores.

What would make you go to the high street?

To see the physical item.

To see the item, yeah.

Yeah, probably.

What about yourself?

I’m the opposite, I prefer shopping online.

Do you really?


Even for clothes?


Yeah? And why is that?

I just prefer not to have to interact with people, I don’t like how busy it is and stuff like that.

And is there anything about the service in the store that annoys you or frustrates you?




Sometimes there’s never enough staff.

Yeah. It’s a common complaint isn’t it?

Yes, I go to the changing room and there’s long queues and there’s not enough staff.

Long queues for the changing rooms, yeah.

Have you ever found yourself in a store, going to buy something and actually abandoning your basket?


Oh aye.

Because there’s been so many people in front of you, yeah. Have you literally abandoned it and gone?

Put some of the items down and gone.


Yes I have done that in the past.

Weird isn’t it.

Hello. Do you have any exclusive men’s trainers?

What sort? Like a casual trainer?

Yeah just anything I can’t get anywhere else?

I’m not sure to be honest.


I’d probably have a little search for something that-

Looks like a shoe.


Do you know if we’ve anything, any men’s trainers that are exclusive to Schuh?

While she’s finding out, what’s the proposition for buying online and everything?

Our deliver service online is more or less… it can just depend on your local service, but it’s normally a couple of working days, two or three working days.

A couple of working days, right.

And you can do click and collect?

Yeah, we do click and collect, you can always check the stock levels and see all the stores in Glasgow.


And you can reserve them, so you can just come in, keep them aside online, come in, give your name and [crosstalk 00:02:38]

And what’s the returns proposition?

You’ve got a full year.

Full year.

So as long as it’s obviously in the same condition and you haven’t worn them outside, you are totally fine to pop them back in.


And get your full refund, full money back, swap them for something else.


It’s pretty flexible.

So here I am in Buchanan street in Glasgow, and I’ve just been into the Schuh store, S-C-H-U-H. Arguably one of the best footwear retailers in the UK. Had a pretty good experience engaging with a colleague in there, she certainly had great knowledge of all the multichannel ways that I could engage with Schuh as a customer. One thing I found a little bit disappointing is that none of the staff seemed to know whether or not there were any exclusive products, and given that Schuh is in the fashion space, first of all I would have thought they would have some exclusive merchandise and certainly give their colleagues the opportunity to find out whether or not they had any exclusive styles that I might try on. The other thing I think where there’s some room for improvement is around visual merchandising, I felt that they could do a better job of talking about new products and new styles that were in, bestsellers and really get me engaged with the products in store. Overall I’d give Schuh seven out of ten, because the customer experience there’s a little bit of room for improvement.


Hello. I have an iPhone at the moment and I’m kind of keen to try something else.

Yeah sure.

I’m bored of it.

Do you have another phone in mind?

No, what would you recommend?

So we’ve got the Huaweis here, the camera on this is phenomenal.

It’s brilliant?


Yeah? Better than an iPhone?

Yes, do you see that?

I don’t know I think yours is all right.

[crosstalk 00:03:57]

I’m not convinced about that. What are the alternatives?

[crosstalk 00:03:57] we’ve got the S10 and the S10 plus.

What would be the main difference between the two, that and my iPhone then? Any idea, or?

I’m not really sure but I can find out, I mean I have an iPhone myself you see.

Oh right sure, no I understand.

And I’ve just started in here, so I can get one of the guys to answer your questions.

No problem. So what about 02 as a network then compared to…

They’re really good actually, I can tell you that because I was with Three before I started working here and I changed over to O2 just because-

Better coverage now?

Aye, better coverage. I wasn’t getting any coverage with Three.

And how much is that package? How much is that package?

It starts out at 50 pound a month, depends… see to be fair I can’t really give you prices on this system because all the systems could be different.

And do you have any… do you know what the international capabilities… so in other words if I’m on holiday and-

Whereabouts do you normally go?

Well for business I go to the States quite a lot.

Guys, see the S10+? The customer’s thinking about taking that out, right? Would he be able to use the S10+ on O2 in the States?

He wants to use it in the States?

Aye. [crosstalk 00:04:55]

It’s kind of like a roll on that you add on.

And can you select the zones that you want it for, or-

No, it’s just a kind of general internet thing, so you could use the phone anyway.

I wouldn’t be able to use that internationally? Because with Three at the moment, for a certain amount I can, when I’m in the States I can use all my data over there, basically.

Yeah, we have promotions for that with Sim cards and that sort of stuff.


So just the Sim, but we don’t have that an on offer just now.



That’d be quite important to me, but anyway, okay.

All right, thanks for your help. I’m going to leave it at that for now, thank you, thanks a lot, cheers.

I’ve just been into the O2 store to check out their customer experience, I’m currently a Three customer, and I have to say as a customer experience I always feel pretty positive about it. I thought I would go into O2 and find out what it would be like if I were to switch, what the alternative plans were, whether they could offer me the same packages I have with Three, which is where I’ve got all I can consume data. With Three I also know the countries that I can use that data in, and I found that really the product information, or the insight around the alternative plans, or finding the alternative plans that were similar to the one that I have with Three, wasn’t really that great. So I found it a bit confusing and I find that that’s one of the issues with telcos generally, is that the products are quite complicated, the plans are complicated, and there must be a way of simplifying it and giving you more trust as a consumer that you’re getting the right solution for you. As a customer experience, I’d give them four out of ten. I think there’s quite a lot of room for improvement.

Do you do… have you got Anastasia Beverly Hills here?

We don’t I’m afraid.

You don’t?

Can I… do you know Space NK?


It’s down in Princes Square, that’s where does that.

Oh they do them? Right okay.

What would be an alternative if I was looking for a gift for my daughters? Any alternative brands you could recommend?

Kat Von D probably? Do you know what it was you were looking for?

No, I mean I guess, I get them everywhere I travel. So although I am originally from Glasgow I live in London now.

Kat Von D.

Kat Von D. And is that available online? On the website?


And it’s there?

It’s straight down the end, there.

Straight down?

Do you want me to take you down?

Yeah please thank you. Thank you, that would be great.

No problem.

I appreciate it.

That is Kat Von D.

Ah right okay.

Can I help you find something?

Do you do any little kits? Do you have any gift bags with multiple products together? That kind of idea?

We do have the contour palettes which is a good seller.

What is it? A contour palette?

Contour palettes for your face basically.


And just in terms of the returns policy, I mean like it’s-

It can be opened but as long as it’s not been touched.

Not been touched.


Yeah and we live in London now, so if I was to return that, where would I send that back to?


Would I take it back to a store in London, or could I send it back to the-

If they’ve got a Debenhams store in London you could just take it back to them, yes.

Right, excellent.

I don’t think they have one in London. No, they do. Oxford street?

I’m pretty sure they have, yeah.


So I’ve just been into Debenhams in Glasgow and I have to say it was a pretty decent experience. I was looking for a gift for my daughters and I ended up buying some makeup. I was actually looking for an alternative brand to Anastasia of Beverly Hills, which as a man who travels the world and always is told what makeup to bring back for his daughter, I knew that brand very well. I had a wee sneaky inclination that Debenhams might not stock that particular brand, so I was looking for an alternative. And I have to say the staff did a pretty good job of selling me on to another alternative brand. I also thought the staff knowledge around the customer experience, round multichannel, and the multichannel proposition was pretty good. What was slightly disappointing for me was visual merchandising around the store, I felt there was a lack of calls to action around best sellers, around products that have just arrived that day, you know really turn it up for me, give me more reason to want to buy there and then by shouting out different products. So I thought that was a wee bit lacking. Overall I would give Debenhams seven out of ten, pretty good experience but I felt there was a bit of room for improvement.

I’ve been in Glasgow today to check out the customer experience in a number of establishments. I’ve tried swapping my phone in O2, seen what it might be like as an experience to move from iPhone to Samsung or another brand, and also from my network, Three. I’ve bought shoes in Schuh, I’ve bought makeup in Debenhams, not for myself, but for my daughter. In terms of the colleagues knowledge within the places that I’ve been into, the knowledge around the multichannel proposition was pretty good, I found that most of colleagues in most of the environments didn’t know whether there were any exclusive products that I could buy into. I found that the visual merchandising wasn’t that strong in terms of the calls to action. I want to know about what’s new? What are the best selling lines? Really inspire me, get me to make a purchase there and then. So I’d say visual merchandising was a let down, I’d say that the staff generally in terms of their engagement was pretty strong, you’d expect Glaswegians like me to be pretty friendly, and they were, so they lived up to their reputation there. The one retailer that was a stand out there was Schuh, very clear proposition, buying online, ordering through the contact center, or in a multitude of stores, or through their app for that matter.

I’ve had a great time in Glasgow today and finding out how the Glaswegians deliver, customer experience. It’s been warm, it’s been friendly, and it’s been engaging. But there’s no question there’s been some cash left on the table for opportunities they could have taken advantage of. I’m looking forward to going to Newcastle tomorrow and seeing how well the Geordies do.

So my advice to O2, having just been mystery shopping their store in Glasgow, is that you need to make sure that all of your colleagues when they hit the shop floor for the first time, have an appropriate level of product knowledge. I was served by a very friendly young lady, but she really didn’t understand all the different tariffs, not surprisingly given the complexity around a lot of tariffs within that sector, but she didn’t understand them well enough to give me the appropriate level of advice. And it’s even more frustrating given that there were two colleagues in the store, one of whom was the store manager, and she could easily have been shadowing them, learning from them, as they were explaining to me what the best options for me were as a customer, to switch my iPhone to a Huawei or a Samsung and using the appropriate level of data and tariff that I was looking for. So that would be my main advice, I think it’s about process, it’s about product knowledge, and it’s about making sure new colleagues are properly trained before you put them on the shop floor. Otherwise, like me, you’re going to leave cash on the table because customers are going to walk out without a contract.

So I’m now going to review the O2 website. And when I land on the homepage I can see on the left hand side there’s help me choose and help me find my ideal device and plan, which is great. That’s exactly the sort of support I was looking for when I went into the store in Glasgow. So I’m going to click on that and see what I get. So let’s find the device and plan that’s right for you. So then if I key in, phone with a monthly contract, pay as I go, tablet with monthly contract or Sim only. Then is going to start narrowing down my selection, I can see there’s a progress bar on the bottom there which is going to tell me how I’m getting on as I go, so that’s great. Potentially really good as an experience.

If I go back to the site, just initially when I land on the homepage I’m not really clear what O2 is all about, what they stand for, what’s their point of difference? There is a link that talks about why O2, and when I hover over that and I look at the categories or the links available underneath that, I can see about flexibility, there are lots of perks, I can get tickets to different events at the O2 for example. Different services, keeping kids safe online, ideas and inspiration, and other links towards information around connection. But not anything obvious and compelling on the homepage as to why I would buy from O2 or become an O2 customer.

When I click on shop, then there are a whole bunch of different links underneath on the drop down menu that I can opt for to continue my journey. So I’m going to go to phones and when I get to phones I can then search, if I already know exactly what I want which is great. So hopefully that will cut out a load of the stuff I need to go through, so I’m just going to go to iPhone and I’m going to go for an XR, so I’m going to go for the latest model. Up comes the XR, product information, asks me if I’m looking for maybe a different iPhone model than the one I thought I was looking for, and then underneath that are the different options around paying monthly or paying as you go. So you can customize your plan as you go and you can choose how much you’re actually going to pay. This live chat button keeps getting in the way, I mean it’s great to have advice but I’m actually trying to go on this journey myself at the moment so I’m going to close that down, that’s become a bit irritating.

I want to add to how much I want to pay upfront, I want a 36 month contract… actually I’d like a 24 month contract. I’m happy with 15 gigabytes of data, so I’m going to choose that plan and I’m going to see what comes back off the back of that. It tells me what my plan is, tells me how much I’ll have to pay upfront, what the monthly price is going to be, and the tariff. This is a bit ambiguous now, I’m not really sure whether this means that I’m going to be paying 51 pounds a month because there’s 31 pounds for the phone and 26 pounds for the tariff itself. It says offers included but I don’t know what those offers included actually are. Then it tells me I can set a spend cap, which actually I think I quite like, particularly if I was buying this for one of my daughters, I think I’d probably want to put a spend cap on it.

I think one of the issues I’m experiencing with the site at the moment is it doesn’t feel quite as intuitive as a retail website. And one of the things that I find with telecommunications brands, is that although they would consider themselves to be retailers, the proposition I don’t think, comes across as a retail proposition, it’s just that bit different. And I know there’s a complexity around the tariffs and everything else, but I think O2 and all the other telcos would do a really good job if they had a look at retailers and they thought about their websites and how they could make them appear more like retail websites. The reason why? Because consumers spend more time on retail websites than they do on telco websites. That would be my main feedback for O2, given the experience I’ve had now, I’d give O2s website six out of ten. I think there’s quite a lot of cash being left on the table because they could improve the journey and make it easier for people to buy.

So my advice to Debenhams would be, please remove the Patisserie Valerie branding from the entrance to the store in Glasgow. That business has shut, most consumers will know that, and when you walk into the store it is a dead space although the branding and everything is still there. I know that’s a challenge, it’s not an easy thing to do, but I think you need to address that. I also think you need to make sure that all of your colleagues in the store know where your stores are, particularly given that you’re closing some of them, which ones are going to remain open, and also what the multichannel proposition is. And make sure you’ve got point of sale at the right places in the store to communicate what all the different ways are that customers can shop and engage with you, because that that was amiss.

So I’m now going to have a quick look at the Debenhams website, and as I look at the home page of the website, I can see there’s free standard delivery on orders over 50 pounds, free two day click and collect on orders 30 pounds or over, that’s a little bit ambiguous in the context of not being 100% sure, I’d have to click on that to get into the detail to understand exactly when my order would be dispatched to be picked up, or whether they’re even fulfilling from the store for that matter. And then there’s international delivery which is interesting. It does tell me that Debenhams is under new ownership and trading as normal, shop with confidence, all orders, returns, refunds and gift cards are being ordered. I think that’s really important given what Debenhams has been through as a business recently to reassure customers that if they buy something on the website right now, that that order is going to be honored, so I really like that.

So if I go into one of the product categories and I’m going to go this time into women’s, I’m going to go into tops. I can see that there’s a significant number of tops, there’s six and a half thousand products. There are various filters on the left hand side, I can start to narrow down by category, casual tops, party and going out, smart tops, beach tops, I can filter by size, I can filter by style. So I’m going to go and have a look at lace tops because I know that my daughter Antonia really likes lace tops, so let’s go and have a look at what’s in there. And I quite like the look of that black lace top on the right hand side, I can see there’s a discount, quite a hefty discount, I can save 47%. The one thing I’ve found actually whenever I’ve been selling online, as a head of e-commerce in the brands I used to work for, is when you actually show a percentage discount, it’s not as compelling as when you show how much the customer’s going to save, and the reason for that is people don’t find it that easy actually just to work out what that discount is when you show the percentage, so my advice there would have been to call out you know, save 11 pounds, now only 11.99. And I think that would’ve possibly had more of an impact.

When I go into the product detail page, I can see there’s a number of sizes not available anymore, that’s a bit disappointing. Let’s click on size 10 and I’m going to add that to bag, I can see actually while I’m on that page that I was able to collect up to 33 points with the Debenhams credit card. So that’s interesting, there’s a call to action there that if I use my Debenhams credit card when I get to the checkout, there’s a benefit in that for me doing so. And arguably it’s probably a reasonable call to action for customers that also don’t have a Debenhams credit card, to get one. So let’s start that checkout process. It takes me to the bag, it tells me if I spend another 38 pounds I get free standard delivery, so at least I know the proposition there, but it doesn’t tell me what the actual service levels are behind delivery, you know, there’s not incentive. So, they might have a next day delivery that if I were to pay a premium and if I’m in a real rush to buy that top, I might be prepared to pay a premium for delivery that I could have that top delivered the next day. So I think there’s a missed opportunity there.

I’d say all in all for my quick experience with the Debenhams website, they tick a lot of the boxes, I really like the messaging providing customers with reassurance, and I would give them a score of eight out of ten.

So my advice to Schuh is that you need to make sure that all your colleagues in store have an appropriate level of product knowledge, because nobody seemed to be able to tell me whether or not you had any exclusive products. And given the sector and the segments that you’re selling into, I would’ve thought that would be pretty important. So that’d be the primary recommendation. I also thought there was a lack of visual merchandising, so I’d look to have more point of sale that calls out exclusive products, that calls out new products, that calls out best sellers, because these are key drivers for consumers. One of the stores on Argyle street had really great messaging in the window around all the ways that consumers could engage with Schuh, online, through the app, through the contact center, but that was missing in the Buchanan street store. So for consistency, to make sure you’ve got the same messaging across all of the stores. Those would be my key messages of advice for Schuh.

So I’m now going to review the website for Schuh, the footwear retailer. And as I look at the homepage of the website, the one thing that stands out for me right in the middle of the screen above the branding, is live help. And I think that tells you a lot about Schuh as a business, they’re there to help. I’m not going to click on that at the moment, looking at some of the other key messages on the homepage, I can get one pound next day delivery, that’s a pretty compelling proposition. Students get 10% off, which is also a great proposition, and as I scroll down the website there are various placeholders with product promotions, marketing messages and so on.

I’m going to go into the men’s category, I’m going to go into boots, and I’m going to look at a product page. So if you give me a second. So having gone into Timberlands, I’m looking at this particular Timberland shoe, I’ve got all the sizing information there. I’ve got a live chat that’s come in onto the page there, and actually that was a little bit intrusive, I’m not really ready for that yet. So live chat’s a great thing, but I don’t know that I needed that message at that moment in time. I’m looking for all the information around delivery and returns and I can see that all that information is there, it tells me what the returns proposition is, it tells me I’ve got 365 days to return the shoes, that takes all the pressure away from buying from Schuh online.

So let me pick my size, UK nine and a half, I’m going to add to my bag…to my basket. And then it takes me straight to the basket, not all websites do that and that’s quite nice, it takes me to the basket, and then I can see that I’ve got all the delivery methods or delivery options and service levels available, which is really important. It’s really important you tell consumers at that stage the journey, exactly what the delivery options are and when they’re going to receive their order. So I can then select that and then proceed to the checkout. The one thing the shopping bag doesn’t do, is it doesn’t cross sell. I’m just going to go back to the product page for a second to recheck that. And interestingly there’s no cross selling going on there, I mean Schuh essentially is a shoe retailer but I would’ve thought there could be some accessories, shoe protection products maybe that they might be able to sell me, spare pairs of laces, I don’t know. It’s maybe not as obvious as it would be in an apparel retailer. All in all, I’d say Schuh is a pretty good customer experience and a hard one to beat, and I’m going to give them, for my particular experience just now, nine out of ten.

Thank you for watching this episode of my secret shopping experience in Glasgow.