Before Uber, can you remember what it was like to book a taxi? Dialling a number, being greeted by a busy and distracted receptionist, then the hope that they heard your address right, the promise of ‘ten minutes love’ then the ensuing wait…and wait….and wait…. It's not enough for the customer expectations of today.

It’s hard to remember how painful this experience was, and subsequently how wonderful Uber is.

In fact, it’s raised our expectations so high that it continually has to keep up with them. Research has shown that the longer the services have been available in a city, the higher our expectations are around short waiting times. Several years ago a five-minute wait for a taxi would have been a miracle, now it’s actually kind of slow as one or two minutes is the number we expect to be presented with, thank you.

Nalina Athyantha of Salesforce said:“You are no longer competing with those in your own industry. The moment a new positive experience is received, customer expectations reach new heights. If a customer can instant message with a service agent on their favourite food delivery app, they want the same experience from their bank and car dealer.”


Disruptive upstarts don’t just impact sales and market share – they raise expectations to a whole new level and set a bar that you will no doubt be measured against by their, and your, customers. There are two key areas in retail that have seen the bar raised and many incumbents falling short: customer service and delivery.

To most people, Zappos was just an online shoe retailer, like Amazon for shoes. Nothing too exciting, until Amazon liked the idea enough to put a $1bn buyout offer on the table. Founder Tony Hsieh was immediately propelled into the limelight along with his forward thinking approach to customer service, which sat at the heart of the businesses, rather than being an afterthought.

In London Waitrose have raised the expectations of grocery shoppers with a two-hour delivery promise. At visitors can pick from 1,500 products that can be delivered to their front door in a timeframe designed to meet the needs of busy lives and an emerging shopper who forgoes the burden of a weekly shop in favour of smaller, convenient top ups.

This is an excerpt from the free downloadable report Retail Trends 2020 and Beyond