There are a lot of new entrepreneurs in the retail space, along with new and innovative concepts.  Some we call Disruptors that are forever changing the way we meet our customer’s needs, the way we interact with customers and the way we engage our employees. These companies are improving both the customer and employee experience.  Many of these are e-commerce concepts (they get most of the press).  But let's not forget there are shining examples of new and exciting brick and mortar retailers who are hitting it out of the park (take a look at Saje, The Ten Spot, Brika, Rent frock Repeat, GotStyle … I'll be moderating an exciting panel discussion with them at STORE 2017).


What defines the success of these companies is their clarity on their values and purpose.  Unwavering clarity.  It's these values and purpose that engage both customers and staff.  And it's these values and purpose that create the experience in their stores that drives their success.  They're not just about selling 'stuff'.

Walk through the malls, the power centres and your downtown (if you have one that's still breathing!) and try to identify the retailers who resonate with an 'experience' versus those that look like they're just selling stuff.  You'll discover the list of 'stuff' retailers is a lot longer than the list of 'experience' retailers.  That's not to say that those selling 'stuff' aren't good at what they do.  They're likely very good at selling 'stuff'.  Yet, as a consumer, you're pulled far more into the 'experience' retailer concept every time.

What we've all learned from the rise of online retail is that they've pretty much mastered all the rationale attributes of buying (price, selection, convenience).  Yet, it's the emotional attributes that brick and mortar retailers (can) excel at.

Ask yourself how clearly defined and communicated your values and purpose are.  Do they resonate with your customers and staff? Do they perpetuate the customer and staff experience?

Remember, when you lose the experience, you're reduced to just selling 'stuff'.  And your customers can buy your 'stuff' in a lot of other places.


Linda Montalbano is a true retail operator with a history of leading large retail teams to success. If you need a fresh perspective on what's going wrong in your stores, Linda is the one to tell you like it is and come up with a solid game plan to turn things around!

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