With over 1,000 stores across the globe, cosmetics business Lush is no longer an underdog. Once considered a somewhat niche brand – with an odd mix of ethical dedication and a decidedly sunny personality to promote it – it has since broken through to the mainstream.

Today, it’s widely thought of as one of the most progressive and innovative brands around – especially when it comes to customer experience.

While it’s pretty impressive in terms of ecommerce (you can read more about that here) – I think its in-store CX is particularly worth shouting about.

So, what can we learn from it? Here’s more on why Lush is leading the pack.

Innovative in-store payment

Recently, Lush overhauled its till system in its flagship Oxford Street London store, introducing a brand-new payment concept. It has replaced its regular till system with Android-powered tablets, which enables staff to roam around, and allows customers to checkout and pay anywhere in the store.

The tablets also offer more payment options and faster transactions, meaning customers are less likely to abandon a purchase due to long queues or busy staff. In fact, reports suggest that revenue has risen by 20% since the introduction of the new system, as staff have been able to process more transactions at a faster rate.

This is just one example of Lush’s aim to offer a seamless experience for shoppers in-store, as well as one that is tailored to the brand’s own retail strategy. For example, it is now looking to improve its payment system, introducing ways for customers to access wish-lists and more detailed receipts via its tablets.

It also marks the first time a retailer has built its very own payment system, choosing to take greater control over its in-store technology and bypass traditional till providers. While not all retailers will have the funds or resources to invest (or perhaps gamble) in a similar initiative, it certainly acts as an example of how retailers can take greater control.

On the back of its success so far, Lush plans to roll out this tablet payment system in UK stores before going on to trial it globally.

Employees going the extra mile

Working for Lush is not like working in your average retail store. Shop staff typically go through extensive training to ensure they have the tools and knowledge to deliver the type of service customers have come to expect.

So, how does Lush’s service improve the brand’s wider CX? There are a few strategies that staff take in order to satisfy customers. One is recognising and targeting customers based on their browsing behaviour. For example, if they ask lots of questions, employees will know to spend time demonstrating products based on the customer’s specific needs. Alternatively, staff are expected to recognise when a customer wants fast customer service and a quick turnaround in store.

Lush employees are also known for going the extra mile, and striving to create friendly, memorable, and personal interactions with shoppers that aren’t based on retail transactions. It’s been reported that staff use ‘facts of the day’ in order to connect with certain emotions. So, if the weather outside is dark and miserable, Lush might aim to counteract this mood by recommending particularly bright and cheerful products.

When you compare the type of customer service offered in Lush to other retail stores, many pale in comparison. Of course, there is the danger that not all customers will want a conversation as they shop, yet it remains an integral way in which Lush differentiates itself to create a memorable store experience.

Unique and interactive layout

Another thing that makes Lush stand out from other retail stores is how it displays its products – as well as how it encourages customers to interact with them.

Its stores are reminiscent of a deli or grocery layout, with customers encouraged to pick up, smell, and touch items as they go. Demonstrations are also part and parcel of the shop experience, as again staff are eager to show how products work and what they can do, using large sinks to show off its famously colourful bath bombs.

It might sound a little grandiose, but there is almost a theatrical element to the Lush experience. Which, arguably, is why the brand is able to charge quite a bit more than other household brands of everyday products like soap, shower gel, and shampoo.

Lush packaging is also another hallmark. While most of its products come ‘naked’, taking away the need for wasteful packaging, its pots and bottles are made from post-consumer plastic, and include quirky information such as who made it. Alongside friendly service, the Lush eco-friendly attitude and interactive store experience is something customers have come to expect.

Aligning offline and online CX

In-store technology is clearly a new priority for Lush, however the brand has also been striving to better align its app with the in-store experience for a while now.

During last year’s Creative Showcase, Lush unveiled two new technologies. The first is Lush Lens – a visual search tool that allows users to discover further information about a product by identifying it with their smartphone camera. Secondly, it’s experimenting with a voice-activated assistant called Lush Concierge. This lets customers ask questions (such as where the nearest store is) as well as enables staff to find out information like stock levels and other inventory-related queries.

With plans to integrate both tools into the existing Lush app, it further proves the brand’s commitment to innovation, which will in turn continue to improve the customer’s experiences with the brand, and act as a key differentiator in the retail market.

Subscribers can download Econsultancy’s case study on Lush’s CX