Online and In-Store: The New Realities of a Digital Customer Journey


Perfumes e Companhia is a 100% Portuguese family-run business established since 1981 with about 150 stores across the country. Our company currently owns the largest chain of selective perfumes in Portugal. It’s not a very big country, but we control about 50% of the perfume retail market.

We have many ongoing marketing campaigns, so we receive a lot of publicity. We reach out to social media influencers as part of our campaigns, so we are always hustling to find creative ways to reach our customers and meet them where they are in the customer journey. That means we also get a huge amount of online traffic, specifically during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and of course Christmas.

The Revived and Revised Customer Journey for 2020 

For our business—as has been true for all businesses—technology has become increasingly important within our business model. Embracing technological innovation will allow our company to be more innovative. It will also change how we serve our customers. People are increasingly visiting our stores and connecting with our company through multiple devices. Our goal is to meet our customers where they are in their customer journey.

Technology will help your business be more innovative—but you might need to rethink how you engage with customers.

We recently conducted a study about our customers and the way they interact with us to map the customer journey and to understand our technology touchpoints with those customers. The goal is to create seamless experiences and make the customer feel comfortable, regardless of how our customers interact with us.

As part of improving our customer service, we launched a rewards app called Like Me that gives our customers rewards and recognition for shopping in our stores. It also allows us to collect valuable data points that we analyse and take action upon in order to better serve our customers. 

We wanted to take the rewards program beyond the traditional purchase-for-points execution. We hoped to connect with the client so that every time they went to a physical store, we could learn about them and interact with them. But before we could get there, we had a major obstacle to overcome: We didn’t have free wifi in all our stores. 

To ensure the app worked as planned, we needed to roll out wifi in all locations. We wanted thorough customer engagement, so creating free wifi hotspots in every store would ensure a seamless customer experience. It would mean our app—along with many other technologies we use in stores—would work flawlessly.

Finding a Solutions Partner We Can Trust

Fortunately for us, we already had a trusted IT partner that we could turn to: Cisco. All of our essential infrastructure is based on Cisco systems. With our ongoing focus on technology and innovation, we made a large investment in our data center last year. We required scalable and flexible infrastructure, and we began there. 

With our continual development efforts, we needed to spin up virtual machines with minimal effort. Cisco solutions connect and backup our two data centers and allow us to move at the speed our development requires. All of this is facilitated by Cisco’s HyperFlex solution. 

Since our vendor relationship was already so strong, it was a clear decision to add Meraki to our portfolio. Meraki could provide the wifi foundation we needed to help improve the customer journey and launch our app. 

Secure, Control, and Manage: The Three Key Benefits of Cisco Meraki 

We started by launching a short Meraki proof of concept in just a few of our stores. It was such a success that we rolled it out in every location. At this moment, almost every one of our 150 stores has Meraki infrastructure installed and live.

Since we have implemented Cisco Meraki at nearly all of our stores, Meraki wifi has served as a strong foundation. It helped to provide free wifi for our customers to access our rewards app, but we also have other systems in stores that rely on this network. Our customer counting technology as well as the video devices we use to confirm the accuracy of our customer counters also connect through Meraki wifi. 

We liked several key things about the Meraki solution. In particular:

1. Security (segmenting)

In retail locations, segmentation is vital. We begin with an open wifi for customers’ wifi-enabled devices when they enter a store. We also have several hidden networks—for our staff’s usage—running throughout the store. This segmentation is important for us so we can ensure that the app traffic that comes from the clients is completely separate from the rest of the infrastructure. This segmenting also adds a layer of security to our wifi infrastructure and operations.

2. Controlling bandwidth

The ability to control the customer network is also important. While we do want people to connect to our wifi, our ultimate goal is to get customers to use it for the rewards app. If they are streaming videos online instead, there’s a lack of brand connection to that in-store digital experience. With Meraki, our IT team can monitor this from our central office. We can control which bandwidth is available to our customers that will optimise use of our app, but won’t support additional, heavy bandwidth usage by unrelated media.

In-store wifi should enhance customer experience, but it shouldn’t impact other customers.

3. Remote management

It’s also important we can centrally manage the infrastructure to identify potential problems and configure those resolutions remotely. All of this is managed by just three IT staff members. From one dashboard, they can monitor security and performance, while remotely resolving almost any issue that arises. 

Cisco Partners: Relying on El’Red Portugal

Throughout this process, we’ve been able to rely on our partner, El’Red Portugal. They helped us implement all the Cisco infrastructure. Every time we need to go to the stores to configure or troubleshoot our technology, we use their expertise. 

Last year, we moved our fulfillment warehouse into a much bigger location. We implemented the Meraki solution in that warehouse as well. Initially, as the location was empty we had a wifi infrastructure there that could not handle the capacity we needed and there was a conflict between the access points. By working with El’Red and installing Cisco Meraki, we’ve been able to stabilise the whole infrastructure and we now have it working at full power.

Digital Transformation: Creating True Customer Connections

Technology can help create better customer experiences, and Perfumes e Companhia is well aware of the benefits. For the past three years, we have received the Five Star Award within the selective perfume category, which indicates consumers know our brand, trust our brand, and engage positively with us. We’ve also won the separate Consumer Choice Award for two consecutive years, and the 2018 Trusted Brand Award, among many other recent accolades. 

Perfumes e Companhia is embracing digital transformation across all of our operations and seamlessly meeting our customers where they are in the customer journey. A key piece of digital transformation is about transforming people. It’s about transforming the way people work, the way people use the technology, and the way people execute daily processes and operations. 

This not only optimises our internal operations, but it also enhances the customer experience because we are reviewing other processes and we are putting new processes in the store. Meraki opens us to the opportunity of connecting with people in the store. When the customer goes to the counter or approaches one of the attendants, the idea is to connect with the clients before they come to us.

Even when they're new in the store, we can create a connection with the client. We’re working to know as much as we can about our client to be as proactive as possible in the customer journey.

We need to give our customers an omnichanel approach. The customer may initiate the purchase process in the app and finish in the store or the reverse, start in the store and end at home via the website. Regardless of the process it is one sole experience with our brand.

If we know the customer, then we can reconnect with them in several ways. That's where the digital transformations from our POS applications is also being done. By connecting with the customer both online and offline, we can integrate those two experiences into one, positive, seamless experience. 

A smooth and engaging customer journey means giving the customer the same experience over several touchpoints.

For example, if we know the customer adds certain products to their basket or cart while shopping online, we know there’s a high likelihood that we can convert this person again or show them other products they might like. Getting the timing right is crucial. And by using technology to reconnect with the customer before they approach us in the store, we’re being proactive and helpful, rather than reactive and unaware. Technology is helping us create our dream customer journey. At every step of the way, the customer feels connected to our brand, and we know we can meet their needs—anywhere those might be.