Jan Schemuth explains in an interview on opti Messe 2019 what a Customer Journey is all about

customer journey – new insights into retail

opti Fair 2019 

The opti SHOWCASE in hall C4 of the opti trade show (January 25 to 27, 2019, at Fairground Munich) is dedicated to a central topic of the future. The focus in the special area will be on the “customer journey.” Our CX Design partner Bernd Eigenstetter will be speaking about this topic in the opti FORUM on opti Saturday. Find here an interview with rpc managing director Jan Schemuth and opti project manager Bettina Reiter.

An interview about the customer journey with Jan Schemuth, rpc, and Bettina Reiter, opti

What is the opti SHOWCASE?

Reiter: The opti SHOWCASE is a new format at the opti trade show. Every year, we address a central future-oriented topic of the industry together with experts in this special area. Our aim is to offer trade visitors important ideas and concrete tips that will help them further advance their business. The topic of the opti SHOWCASE at opti 2019 is the customer journey. In addition to lots of information and practical examples in the special area, there will also be presentations and discussion sessions on the topic in the opti FORUM. 

The term is used a lot, but what is customer journey? 

Reiter: The term refers to the journey of a potential customer, the path they take, from their first contact with a product, a brand, or a company all the way to the purchase and beyond.

To what end?

Schemuth: Creating a customer journey describes the interplay of interactions and points of contact between companies and customers in the various distribution channels. It helps companies to understand, shape and make use of these interactions and points of contact. The major challenge companies face today is to determine when, where and how their customers are active, and how they can attract their customers’ interest.

Has the customers’ behavior changed so much?

Schemuth: A typical sale as we knew it just five or ten years ago doesn’t work anymore today. Back then, customers’ attention was drawn to a product by means of classic advertisements; they came in, got advice and purchased the product at the store. Nowadays, they have many more options to obtain information and, ultimately, also to buy the product. They usually get their information online first, from the company website, social media channels, mobile apps or third-party platforms. As a result, the number of possible points of contact between a company and a customer has increased drastically and is continuing to rise.

In other words, the journey doesn’t begin only when the customer enters the shop.

Schemuth: Of course not. Consumers today are used to being able to get further information on everything they are interested in immediately. They do their research and are influenced in their decision-making process by the customer experiences and recommendations of others. To think that the customer journey only starts when the customer enters a shop is too shortsighted and leaves many opportunities unused.

Reiter: The major challenge—besides attracting the customers’ attention and interest—is to make sure you don’t lose them on their journey but instead convince them of the respective product or company and turn them into fans. The opti SHOWCASE will demonstrate how this endeavor can be successful, also taking into account digital tools that offer numerous new possibilities to reach customers, spark their enthusiasm and bind them for the long term.

This is about what are known as touch points. What is the idea behind them?

Schemuth: Essentially, every contact with customers is a touch point, either physical or digital; the boundaries are becoming blurred here due to technical developments and augmented or virtual reality, for example.

Reiter: The opti SHOWCASE will demonstrate different touch points at different stations. Experts will explain in presentations as well as individual conversations how companies can make use of them and what they need to look out for to improve customer service. Where and how do customers get their information? How should I design my website? How can I make good use of social media channels? How do I train my staff to ensure that customers are having good user experiences and feel at ease? How do I build a community? What about e-commerce? What is the best retail strategy? All these questions will be answered at the opti SHOWCASE. 

Does that mean that both online and offline elements will play a part there?

Schemuth: The online and offline areas are merging together increasingly. Consumers move fluently between the two worlds. This is why many companies are pursuing an omnichannel strategy. Technologies such as NFC, iBeacons, geofencing and QR codes allow the customer’s smartphone to be integrated seamlessly and information to be provided proactively. Customers also have the option to look up further material on their mobile device. This allows them to obtain information while on the train, at a café or at home on the sofa. The link between online and offline offers many opportunities to intensify customer relationships, improve the shopping experience and to detect when and how customers get information or make purchases and via which channels.

Reiter: We will present some of this information at the opti SHOWCASE, and trade visitors can look forward to an exciting special area again, which will inspire them and present new ideas and possibilities and from which they can also take home concrete tips. We will also present a number of impressive technical possibilities that will surprise a lot of visitors.

Bettina Reiter is the project manager of opti, the international trade show for optics and design, which will take place at Fairground Munich between January 25 and 27, 2019. 


Jan Schemuth is the Managing Director of Munich-based rpc – The Retail Performance Company GmbH. 


In 2019, opti will present a new format for the first time: the special opti SHOWCASE area will provide a platform for a particular future-oriented topic: The customer journey. 


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Jan Schemuth is managing director at rpc – The Retail Performance Company
Jan Schemuth
Managing Director