Get Your Head Out Of The Sand!
The sky isn’t falling on brick and mortar retailers (even though the media would like you to think so). But, the horizon is far from certain for many. We’ve seen thousands of stores close (yes, just as many new ones are opening … but hey, thousands still closed!). Online continues to grow and eat away at traditional retailers’ shares of the pie. For grocery it’s only 2%, but for fashion it’s as much as 20%.
The world as we know it for brick and mortar retailers has forever changed. The question is, “how many will change with it … and change fast enough to survive?”
There’s a lot of lip service being given to this by too many retailers. They slap a digital screen in their stores and think that’s the savior all on its own. They introduce a ‘Click and Collect’ program and squeal with delight. Both worthwhile initiatives to be certain, but just part of a larger change needed.
There are 3 things I think retailers need to embrace in their stores if they stand a fighting chance of survival:
- Improve the staff experience. It’ll pretty much start and end here for most retailers. Your staff is now infinitely more important than ever before. If you don’t begin to give them a work experience that is amazing, they’ll never provide the customer experience you need. Teach managers how to manage staff properly. Teach staff how to be successful with customers. Evolve every staff system and policy to be amazingly staff friendly.
- Get serious about measuring the customer experience. Mystery shopping really doesn’t cut it anymore. There’s so much new technology out there that allows you to collect so much feedback. Imagine a tablet used to assist in a sales presentation that records the conversation with the customer, sends it to virtual coaches in the cloud, and provides feedback to both the sales associate and you. That’s the type of new technology that’s a game changer for the customer experience. You can’t improve it if you don’t measure it.
- Get out of the ‘middle’. There’s no room anymore for anyone who’s stuck in the middle. The middle isn’t confined to just mid-priced point retailers though. True, there’s been a long standing movement to the ‘top’ and ‘bottom’. But the middle also means ‘middling’, which means just plain old average. That includes just ‘average’ staff.
Be remarkable for what you are, how you do it and be sure it’s all somehow connected to why you do it. The last thing consumers need is just another footwear store, fashion outlet or café. What we long for are footwear stores, fashion outlets and cafes that Wow us with an experience that is both memorable and remarkable.
A list of 3 things by no means provides a comprehensive solution. We know that.
It’s a start. And you need to start somewhere. Just be sure you’re moving fast enough.