Digital brands have ‘succumbed to magpie syndrome’, says Shop Direct

Brands should forget drones and driverless cars and instead invest in the customer journey and areas such as personalisation, payments and delivery.

Digital businesses are overly preoccupied with the online user experience at the expense of back end systems that support customer service, according to a senior executive at Shop Direct.

Kenyatte Nelson, group marketing director at the online retailer, said during a panel discussion at Advertising Week Europe today (20 March) that many brands had succumbed to “magpie syndrome” whereby they would “chase the shiny stuff” and neglect to develop practical services that genuinely improved customers’ lives.

“A lot of digital businesses – including our own – have spent a lot of time on the front end and not enough time on the back end,” he said. “They are now feeling the pain of that.”

Nelson added that if digital brands did not focus on all aspects of the customer journey, such as payment, delivery and follow-up communications, they would lose out to competitors. “[Customers think] that if you’re not helping me solve the challenges I have in the physical and digital space, I will choose to spend my money somewhere else.”

The panel discussion, entitled ‘Reinventing the real world’, also considered how brands are responding to changing customer behaviours and expectations. Paddy Earnshaw, chief customer officer at parcel collection service Doddle, urged marketers to look beyond the hype surrounding new automated technologies and think about smaller, incremental changes to customer service.

Being innovative could simply involve adding a new layer of personalisation to an existing service, he suggested. “Forget drones and forget driverless cars for the minute – do stuff that makes sense [for your business].”

Katie Dulake, head of brand and marketing at TSB Bank, said: “I think everyone should innovate and you shouldn’t just have a department where they are the innovative guys, and we just do normal banking.”

She added: “You can’t have [innovation] siloed as a department, it’s got to be something everybody does.”