Consumers still drive retail and brand success.
While technology influences buying decisions, an exceptional AND consistent in-store and online/mobile consumer experience is key to success and growth.
Stores are not going away. Consumers shop via omni-channel.
The role of the brick and mortar store is changing. Fading are the general merchandisers at all price levels (from department stores to chain stores to discount stores). We’re also seeing category killers closing as consumers do their “window shopping” online and make their choices before leaving home. Consumers come into the store already knowing what they want to purchase and armed with product knowledge from the website and online consumer reviews. Brick and mortar stores have fallen behind and attention needs to be paid to get up to speed, armed and ready to engage and excite customers to keep them.
These critical points can ensure success and survival:
Engage the Customer
The store staff needs to think and speak like the consumer:
Sales staff need to relate to and fully understand the product: Consumers want to engage with a staff who understand the product, its features, benefits and uses like they do. The consumer wants to hear the story behind the products and how it’s going to change their lives.
Know your products- Exceptional product knowledge: Customers lose confidence and will shut down if they know more about the product than the sales staff. They want to verify the findings they researched and be assured that the products will do what they want and more.
Know your store and where to find things in the store: Customers are comfortable self-directing their visit, but want to have floor staff know the store layout and where products and categories are located.
The store layout must be consistent with the website:
The categories need to resemble the segmentation from the website: Consumers frequent a company’s website and become comfortable navigating the website understanding the departmental segmentation on the site. The same segmentation needs to pass to the brick and mortar store to make shopping easy.
Department category names should be identical to website: The store cannot have names and labels different from the website. Make it easy for the consumer to find the items they saw online. If it’s called “artist’s supplies” or “party favors” or “coatings”, make sure those names carry into the store directories and signing.
Excite the Customer
Product/content is key: Exciting product is still the key to exciting the consumer. Customers don’t want to see the same old products they see elsewhere. Dig for new details, new colors, innovative styling, interesting shapes and exceptional designs. These are what make a brand or business top of mind with the consumer.
Pursue innovation, newness, and fun events:
-Product innovation, or creativity, can stimulate a consumer’s buying decisions. To keep the business profitable and sustainable, showcasing product innovation and newness is critical.
-Make the experience FUN. Today’s consumers are looking for an experience as much as making a purchase. We all want to feel good about what we bought and can’t wait to get it home, use it and show it off! Social media plays a huge role in spreading the word of an exciting, fun experience and pays big dividends through positive reviews and recommendations by influencers.
They look for inspiration and “visual magic”: Creative displays can provide the consumer with ideas and inspiration they may not have thought of when making the shopping excursion. The consumer still wants to be surprised and find what they didn’t know they wanted until a brilliant presentation caught their eye. Interesting and inviting presentations of products can stimulate impulse purchases.
Always think experience
Exceptional experiences deliver customer success. The consumer wants great product AND experience. Omni-channel shopping has given people more choices on where and from whom to patronize. Consumers do their own research and will engage with a brand or store that they believe is authentic and they can trust. They no longer want to be “sold”.
About the author:
Bob Horwitz is a business growth consultant for retail and consumer brands. He has led a successful career in retail department stores, national chains and specialty stores, as well as senior leadership positions with wholesale apparel brands. For the last 20 years, he was the CEO of Idea Workshop, a Minneapolis-based marketing company specializing in sales promotions, channel incentive programs and brand management.
For more information, or a review of your business and how it touches the customer across omnichannels, contact Bob at BH Brand Consulting- firstname.lastname@example.org, 612.963.1639.