Photo by Norman Masanga

Communitech and LCBO have joined forces to redesign the way customers shop, with the creation of a new LCBO innovation hub at the Communitech campus, LCBOnext. This initiative hopes to use technology to customize, personalize, and advance the level of ease and efficiency at which customers shop.

“LCBOnext is very excited to partner with Communitech,” Danny Ho, innovation activator at LCBOnext, told Imprint. “In this innovation ecosystem, I think it’s very valuable because [not only do we] have visibility, [but] it’s very timely to work with technology and innovation.”

Ho also commented on what the collaboration meant for LCBO.

“We’re helping LCBO take an agile approach to find[ing] new ways to solve problems and new solutions to improve customer experience,” he said.

Ho explained one of the things being worked on is an LCBO app, and explained some of the research being done at the moment:

“We’re exploring how to integrate voice search into that app.… We’ve actually been testing it as a beta within LCBO so that we’re collecting data points on how people ask for beverages and alcohol, the words they use, so that we can improve an engine and potentially use it in a future version of the app.”

Ho tied the developing app into what he saw as a trend for technology- and data-based businesses.

“With increasing mobile usage everywhere, there is increasing ability for applications to be very smart and grab data …  knowing your consumer interest …  you’re going to be able to target customers much more specifically to what they’re most likely to want than ever before,” Ho said.

Ho is working to update LCBO service methods to coincide with the fast-changing technological landscape.

“Many retailers and customer-facing vendors and companies are all taking very similar approaches to improve customer service, to give customers a better experience,” Ho said. “What LCBO is doing is learning for themselves and also participating in this new way of delivering customer service.”

Ho also gave his opinion on how service-based businesses  must adapt to the new world of technology.

“You have customers who are more informed, who have complex tastes. They have a right to be picky and to know how to look for what they want. Customization and personalization are definitely going to be improving many times over in the years to come. Every retailer has to be able to learn how to provide what the customer wants and to give them a good experience while they do that.”

Ho also expressed his enthusiasm over working with co-op students within the community.

“We’re hoping to learn a lot, but also give back. In finding Waterloo co-ops, looking at the talent that is at Waterloo, hopefully we can show the next generation some of the exciting things LCBO is working on, and that LCBO is a place that they’ll consider, whether it be for future work terms or a future career,” Ho said.

“It’s not just about getting innovation and work done, but to build the brand and have a more meaningful, engaging brand for the next generation of technology talent as well,” Ho said.


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