First Things First: Get the Fundamental Customer Experience Right

Say you work on the digital side of things for a major online retailer. The truth is, your virtual store can have all the bells and whistles in the world, but it won’t mean a thing if customers can’t do the basics (e.g., log in to their account or retrieve a forgotten password). Matt Baer—Chief Digital and Customer Officer at the longstanding, iconic retailer Macy’s—shares key insights on the importance of getting the fundamentals right before anything else.

“It might not be sexy to go to the Board of Directors or go to the CEO and say, ‘We just delivered X value by improving the “Forgot Your Password” experience,’” Matt jokes. “But the results speak for themselves.”

Growing up in a family retail business, Matt was interested in leadership and management from a young age. In our discussion, he reminisces about actually spending a portion of his teenage years in board rooms, out to dinner with vendors, and negotiating deals. Fast forward, and Matt landed himself an internship with trial attorney David Boies, then accepted a position at, then the startup Quirky, and finally his own startup—an e-commerce marketplace called Bezar. Matt was later recruited to work at Walmart. And now, he’s running the ship as CDO and CCO at Macy’s.

Fortunately for Matt, Macy’s made an early push into the digital world, before many of their peers. And that foresight, that early entrance into digital business enabled Macy’s to have the second largest market share in the categories they serve.

Don’t Underestimate the Path to Your Current Role—Your “Breadcrumbs”

On being recruited to work at Walmart, Matt says, “ working at a family business and then a series of startups, you ask yourself, ‘Can I have success at the world’s largest retailer?’” As it would turn out—yes! By the time he left Walmart, the retail giant was an example of strength in digital business and the customer experience they were delivering.

If I take a new role, what am I going to learn? How is it going to challenge me? What will it show in terms of what I'm capable of, and the new capabilities that I'll have? –Matt Baer, CDO/CCO @Macys #CX #CDO #CCO Share on X

When Matt stepped into his current position at Macy’s, he saw a lot of opportunities on the digital side to transform and deliver an improved customer experience. “I had confidence, given my experience at Walmart, that we would have success.” A perfect example of not underestimating your breadcrumbs… which can guide you to new destinations with confidence.

Set the Fundamental Customer Experience Right

One topic we discuss in our chat is how Matt, in his role as CDO/CCO at Macy’s, has brought to the table a renewed emphasis on getting back to basics. As he plainly notes, if a customer can’t even log in to their account, they’re certainly not going to make it to checkout. So while yes, pushing forward and growing and adding are certainly important, sometimes we need to pause, go back a few steps, reassess, troubleshoot, tweak, and really ensure there’s a solid foundation first.

“Back in March of 2020, I inherited a product roadmap that was really wide, maybe over 40 different parent initiatives in terms of what we would be working on. And my perspective on that was we needed to slow down and focus on the fundamental customer experience.”

What is it that we can do to best serve the customer? And how can we allocate our resources in a manner which will put the customer first?” –Matt Baer, CDO/CCO @Macys #CX #CustomerExperience #CDO #CCO Share on X

So, after spending almost the entirety of 2020 going “back to basics” and working only on things like homepage, browse, search, cart, checkout, payments, delivery, and return, Macy’s radically improved their NPS scores, their funnel metrics, and ultimate conversion and revenue per visit. “And, more than anything, we got tremendous feedback from our customers in terms of that improvement,” Matt adds.

What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?

Matt said:

“Patience. Patience is really important. […] Everyone wants to move really fast and make as big of an impact as possible, if you don’t have the right patience, it’s less likely that you’re going to be successful over the long term. […] It doesn’t mean to go slow—it means to make sure that you’re doing everything that you should be, correctly. […] Making sure that you’re taking the time in order to develop or to advance your strategy in a manner in which it will be successful short term and long term. And if you come at it with that patience and with that discipline, you’re going to get to better results.”

About Matt Baer

Matt Baer As Chief Digital and Customer Officer at Macy’s, Matt Baer is responsible for the growth and strategic long-term vision of Macy’s digital business, with a focus on creating a deeper relationship with customers. Matt’s prior experience includes Walmart, as well as innovative digital brands, including Bezar, Quirky, and An action-oriented, forward-focused business leader, Matt also prides himself in his understanding of the importance of patience, transparency, and listening.

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