It's A Small World After All: Disney Revamps Online And In-Store Retail To Boost CX

Amy Hatch

“Whenever I go on a ride, I’m always thinking of what’s wrong with the thing and how it can be improved.”
— Walt Disney

Long before customer experience became the rage, Walt Disney espoused the importance of it in everything he created. His successors are following his lead, announcing a new and improved online shopping experience and interactive, personalized experiences in redesigned stores. The multi-pronged effort aims to boost the profits of its retail consumer product division, which have fallen, as have the bottom lines of so many other brick-and-mortar retailers.

Let it go: standalone retail is over

While online retail seems like a given in the digital age, Disney has long resisted the trend of e-commerce, instead offering a only a small selection of items online. The strategy was to drive consumers to the parks or retail outlets. For a very long time this model worked, but as consumers have become more sophisticated, so have their expectations – including their ability to access whatever they’d like, whenever they’d like.

Coupled with a remodeling of its physical stores, the online makeover means myriad new products will be available to the at-home Disney fanatic. Carefully curated collections by Coach, David Lerner, and Ethan Allen furniture now grace the e-commerce catalog, and those products will also be sold in the stores, making a complete omnichannel experience for the consumer.

Reimagining the magic of the customer experience

True to Disney fashion, no detail has been overlooked. The revamping of its brick-and-mortar stores includes melding the interactive experiences of the parks with their physical locations. In-store shoppers can battle Darth Vader on a big screen and even purchase cotton candy and the iconic mouse ears from carts that are the same as those found in Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Guests visiting Disney stores will see live streams of the multiple theme parks, fireworks displays on giant screens, and personalized experiences for children, including birthday parties and other milestone celebrations. Even the coveted apparel at The Dress Shop has become available for online purchases.

“Many analysts predict that 2017 will be the year of the customer as consumers continue to call the shots,” said Shane Finaly of SAP. “That requires retailers to follow their lead – and keep pace with customers through personalized engagement.”

All that’s left is to pipe in the (truly delightful) scent you can only breathe in while gawking at Cinderella’s Castle on the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street, USA.

By creating seamless transitions between their parks, stores, and online offerings, Disney is acknowledging the desires of a 24/7/365 economy. And, if the brand can marry the physical retail experience with its online efforts in the same way it has approached customer engagement on the ground in the parks, it cannot lose.

The era of multichannel is here to stay. Disney has been considered the standard-bearer when it comes to customer experience. Once upon a time, it was enough to offer its unique experiences only in person, but not anymore. No amount of magic can transform a bottom line that doesn’t recognize the power of digital.

For more about generating more sales in the digital era, see Primed: Prompting Customers to Buy.

This article originally appeared on the Future of Customer Engagement and Commerce.