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Turning the Retail Experience Inside Out

Peter Merholz’s June 11th blog certainly set my wheels spinning. I spend considerable effort in helping retailers to improve the shopping experience for their customers, so that it can be distinctive and rise above the commodity of what they may offer.

I agree with Peter’s contention that companies don’t design the experience with the consumer in mind. Instead it’s driven by concerns around internalized concerns such as cost optimization, assortment planning or controlled by the limits of a legacy system that ends up being “part of the problem” in the shopping experience.

Retailers have numerous priorities to juggle in solving their operation problems, but none is so influential in their success as driving participation, especially repeated, on the part of their shoppers. This is why the need for a strategic, extroverted approach to the retail experience is paramount to their success, by understanding who the ideal targeted audiences are, by continuously looking outside their four walls, by honing and focus on those segments will they drive a compelling desire to participate on the part of the consumer.

When dealing with the exponential effect of the customer numbers of a retailer, i.e. 5 million customers. It’s rather straight forward to see how changing a customer’s number of visits from 8 times a year to 8.5 times a year can have a significant impact on the P&L statement, but it also effects customer retention and the cost of acquiring a customer.

This all serves as an opportunity for the retailer to view the consumer as an asset worthy of strategic management and investment. By establishing a collective appreciation across the retail enterprise for the value that the shopper brings and the need to cultivate and nurture it, creates an extroverted perspective for the retailer. Not just store associates, but everyone in the business develops an awareness and focus on what the consumers needs and works in alignment to deliver it with consistency. Inevitably systems are then tasked to make this repeatable and reproducible and measure the successes.

We must adapt constantly to recognize that change is something we can cause for our betterment rather than be the effect of to our detriment.

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