Great retail experiences transcend all others. They are unique, memorable, unexpected and have the ability to change the perspective of the customer. Good retail simply delivers, great goes above and beyond. Good meets expectations, great exceeds. Good experiences are in abundance, but great are rare.
Shoppers today are distracted. Retailers and brand marketers have to develop retail programs that stand out from the others and and capitalize on consumers’ shortening attention spans. The convergence of multiple influencers help set apart good from great and create happy, loyal customers. Here are six considerations to take in mind when creating retail experiences that are better than the rest:
1. Predict the Purchase.
What do you really know about your customers? Perhaps you’re aware X, Y, and Z'rs all approach the marketplace differently. Or maybe, you’ve been studying the role of technology in the consumer's path to purchase… but what does that actually mean?
It’s easy to get lost in marketing-speak and rely on readily accepted industry “truths” to inform your planning strategies. But truly great retail does not only see and understand trends, it exists to discover the internal motives behind them.
Great retail requires those in the industry to take on the role of an anthropologist. You have to be able to get into the minds of your customers, learn their habits, know how they gather information, postulate which factors influence their decisions, and have an understanding of how they share experiences within society and their communities. Then and only then, will you have enough insight to begin creating retail solutions that speak their language. This allows trust and credibility to be established before consumers even set foot into your door.
2. Balance Messaging and Product Presentation
Consumers are distracted. Don’t overload them with too much information. Good retail provides ample messaging for the shopper, but doesn’t always have the organization or timing necessary for effective delivery.
Great retail predicts the decision-making needs of the customer and spoon feeds them the proper portions of messaging and product presentation every step of the way. Jon Bird, a long-time industry veteran, coined the phrase “Hi, Eye, and Buy.” This simple principle allows us to examine the various “zones” a shopper must navigate in order to make a confident buying decision. Great retail knows when to back off, when to step in, and how to deliver the perfect dose of messaging + product presentation.
3. Channel and Market Adaptability
The demands of great retail vary from one channel to the next and one market to the next. The need for adaptability in messaging and product presentation across all channels must be tailor-fit to the particular environment the product is being sold, as there are many changing variables within each.
The buyer’s mindset varies greatly between a high-end consumer electronic store and a discount department retailer. Further, all adaptations must deliver consistency in messaging, brand, and value statements across all media platforms. This will ensure the shopper is receiving clear and concise information as they progress through the path to purchase.
4. Remember the Associate
Often, one of the most overlooked aspects of the retail experience is the sales associate. Store personnel can be, and should be, the cheerleaders for your brand or product. They are the ones who answer questions, provide examples, and build real-time, genuine connections with customers.
Great retail puts the associate’s needs as a top priority. Other retail may not fully consider how the sales associate fits into each channel’s retail experience or the role he or she plays in the sales process. The consequence of this? Unaligned, unprepared customer service representatives who are unable to utilize the retail environment to its full potential and could, inadvertently, become an advocate for your competition simply due to not having the resources and training to provide the best shopping experience possible.
Likewise, don’t forget to consider the technical interaction of the associate with the display or store fixture being implemented, as they will most likely be the ones to provide maintenance and updates. ROI goes out the door (literally), when a display, fixture or other retail solution isn’t properly maintained. We know that sales associates want to fulfill the needs of the customer, and it's our collective job to make sure they have the proper tools and resources to get that done.
5. Reach for More
A good portion of knowing the customer and predicting the purchase, is having a keen awareness of how they will ultimately use the product or service. This provides the opportunity to maximize the sale by bundling complementary products that will accentuate the customer’s satisfaction with the product.
For example, if a couple is in the market to purchase new cellphones and you understand how they will ultimately use that phone, don't let them out of your doors without a conversation about headphones, extra storage, screen protectors, cases, and insurance. Great retail acts as conduits for these conversations. Doing this is a win/win situation. You maximize the sale and they leave your store complete and ready to enjoy the product to its full potential.
6. It Takes a Village
The creation of great retail requires the voice of many publics. From concept to implementation, there are multiple factors that must be identified, sorted, strategized and developed. This is not a one-person, one-team or one-company job. It requires collaboration and effort from client, provider, and other third parties to ensure the retail program is timely, on-brand, impactful, and effective.
Great retail recognizes the need to invite key stakeholders to the table during key times of program development. Giving individuals a voice who work in areas such as: loss prevention, IT, zoning, internal marketing, etc., limits the amount of project pitfalls and delayed deadlines.
Great retail is retail with accountability. Thoughtful invention inspired by the personality of the brand and the needs of the customer. Great retail doesn’t provide a one-size fits all solution, it goes the extra step to deliver messaging and product presentation that surprises, excites, and entices customers. Without it lies the risk of project delays, added costs, poor execution and an underperforming program.