I WANT MORE. There you go, I have said it!
written by Giles Corbett
Blog3rd April 2019
I’ve been involved in retail all my career (over 30 years, ouch!!). I started in grocery and I loved it, the home of 3 for 2 and BOGOF. I’ve worked with hospitality, coffee (what a great industry that exploded in the ’80s and ’90s), I’m a Director of an award-winning, Dragons Den online gift business and more recently I’ve been working with an organisation implementing in-store touch screen technology driving online and in-store experiences closer together.
I REALLY love retail, but I get more and more infuriated as I read of its terminal decline. Nasty tech giants moving in, changing business models, the death of the high street etc.
My years in retail started pre-internet, pre omni, pre-new retail, pre-o2o when the Gratton Catalogue was a massive player and was bought by Next in 1988 giving them about 100 physical stores and a separate mail-order catalogue business, it gave them this weird multi-channel strategy!
Here’s the thing. For me;
But through all the ages of retail, through all the changes and new entrants, through all the ways to serve customers, there are really only 3 consistent core needs for the retailer.
To me, this is the simplest view of retail. It does get much, much more complicated when you consider brand loyalty, CX, marketing & promotions, customer journey, satisfaction etc. But the desired outcome of all of these activities is to deliver MORE!
The pop-up, the cookies, Facebook recommendations, the shares, the likes, the social inclusion, GDPR compliant mailing lists, Instagram ads, Facebook shops, Google ads and SEO. The Customer Acquisition tools of the new communications age.
Half a step behind you have the mailed catalogues and leaflets that drop through the letterbox and mails that hit the inbox and the billboards.
And then you have the shop window. Literally the shop window on the high street that looks great, that draws people in.
All of these methods, old or new are searching to find a voice and promote a form of visit to a form of outlet to that elusive extra customer.
We concentrate so hard on all these things in silos that some retailers miss the opportunity to use all the tools available in all the selling channels to promote the brand.
For example, how many retailers are really maximising their stores and visitors to their stores to socially promote their brands? Just one method of using the store to help drive incremental visits.
The first time I saw an online exit offer I thought nothing of it. A simple pop-up offering a 10% off code if I bought now. It was sometime later that I learnt of the mechanics of the ‘EXIT OFFER’. It’s a plea of desperation to the online customer who is about to leave the store without purchasing. The offer is invoked when the user moves the mouse to the close tab icon. It’s an online method of barter, ‘here is a better offer’.
Offers like this actually do work, I’ve implemented them into an online business and the abandon basket rate was substantially reduced. However, it’s only one of many online methods of converting visitors to customers, think opening account offers, free delivery, recommend a friend, etc.
What is much more interesting is how we seem to ignore the same need in the physical store. Between 60 and 80 percent of visitors leave large clothing stores without purchasing and the retailers rarely have data on why. We rarely survey these visitors and we struggle to find ways to understand them. These non-shoppers are like ghosts, we know nothing about them, they appear and vanish. It’s such a shame that we’ve done all the hard work to get them into the store but we let them drift out without so much as asking them to share their experience or even tell us who they were.
If we consider the technical innovation addressing this issue in the online world, and the lack of it in the physical world then we go some way to understanding why physical retail may be struggling. The adoption of tools that interact with customers in-store delivering similar results as tools online to convert more visitors into customers must be part of the physical retail answer.
All the hard work has been done, we’ve got a visitor and that visitor is buying something. So how do we influence them to add more to their physical or logical basket? This is where the magic happens!
In many ways, this area looks more advanced in the physical store than in the online shop. We can co-locate products that complement each other, flowers with the wine on a Friday night has a huge uptake!
However, in a physical store with limited space how do we offer a fuller range of products to the customer? If a product comes in 3 sizes and 3 colours, what if I don’t have room for all 9 variants? The old answer was, don’t stock it or have smaller ranges for smaller footprint stores. The new answer is the Cloud Shelf, some retailers are adopting fun ways for customers to exploring the complete product range on interactive in-store screens that can then place an order for the product to be delivered home. After all, why would I buy a product and carry it around all day when it can be delivered home for me?
To sell 1 more item we promote and display products, technology within the physical store can enhance this endlessly.
Retail will continue to develop and change, it’ll thrive in many forms (wait till the drones start dropping products home for us!) there’s no doubt that technology will continue to form a huge part of this change.
Retailers will continue to strive to understand and serve their customers better, to ensure that the experience in the store is just as easy to navigate and as simple to transact as it is online.
Shops won’t die, moreover retailers we will continue to find ways to make these physical assets a benefit, where touching and understanding of product and brand can be better than an online experience, where a store can really build brand loyalty.
Some retailers will do it better than others. It’s those that embrace it early that tend to prevail.
Looking back at NEXT in 1993 their brand strategy was “One Brand; Two Ways of Shopping”, bringing together the common ranges across both retail and home shopping formats. That’s 25 years ago and over 5 years before any e-commerce. Sounds like a pretty robust strategy to me!
If you’d like to hear more about how Ksubaka are helping retailers deliver more visitors, more customers and sell more items then please get in touch.