I was never really that into retail experiences, unless it was a bookstore until the Apple Store came along and made buying a computer feel like a huge discovery.
But I really appreciate an article that I saw in The Daily about the NYC store Fivestory. The story highlights something that I think isn’t just relevant to high end stores but which could be used to really ramp up any type of physical store and shopping experience.
Too often when you go shopping you are met by surly, uneducated, uncaring salespeople. And, when that’s the case, its no wonder that you head to the Internet. Things are cheaper, you can find a great site or two to provide you with coupon codes and discounts, and most importantly, you don’t have to feel looked down upon by the sales staff and you don’t have the hassle of driving and parking or taking the train or whatever.
Now, if you are trying to create an experience that is fantastic and that makes people want to make the effort, here are a few things you want to do:
* Make sure your salespeople like people.
From a brand standpoint, the buying experience is too important to waste with people that just don’t care.
I know that retail salaries suck. And, that’s one thing that really aught to change. Because a retail salesperson is hugely important and is insanely important to the face of your brand. So companies really need to start thinking in terms of investing in their retail staff so that they are more than just cogs and so that the employees are willing to take the time to learn about the products and to care about the customers.
* Design the store not for maximum product exposure but for maximum customer discovery.
I was reading about the CNBC report on Costco. And one of the things that was fascinating is that the store is set up to create exposure to the maximum number of products.
I know that using a warehouse store as an example is a bit simplistic, but it highlights something….its not wrong to try to set the store up in a way that maximizes sales volume. That’s the point, but at the same time you are maximizing the sales, you need to lay out the store in a way that you also maximize the customer’s sense of discovering a new product or service, so that you can convert them to new things and in the process, you make them feel like champions of your brand because they will feel like they have discovered something with you.
* Be unique. Be enjoyable.
One thing I love about the Apple Store is that the experience is unlike any other shopping experience.
Another good example of a well thought out and unique experience is Whole Foods and if you want your mind blown by how much science and thought was put into the layout of the stores, read Brandwashedby Martin Lindstrom.
But, ask me if I really want to go to my local CVS and the answer is ‘God, no!’
Just because you are selling essentials and necessities doesn’t mean you are selling them in a void. Because sooner or later someone is going to come along and steal the people right out from under you by doing it better. By taking a little more time to design the drugstore so that you feel like you are having a unique experience. Or, laying out the grocery store in a better way, like Whole Foods, so you are drawn in by the flowers, the ice, and the signs above the produce.
Its not always easy, but its worth the payoff.
I know these are only 3 thoughts and there are tons of other ideas, so leave me some of yours in the comments.