DISCLAIMER: Please note that all opinions are the writer’s own.
Does watching customers leaving empty-handed make you want to bang your head against a door? (Credits to Bob Phibbs for this wonderful turn of phrase.)
As a person who both shops and is passionate about customer experience, I noted some points from a weekend store visit. Use them, don’t use them. But try use them.
As this piece features thoughts on ethical and sustainable fashion, I add that I am trying to equip myself with as much knowledge as possible around this field. If you notice errors of judgment and knowledge gaps, please do let me know because learnings are good. They make us better.
The story begins with me actively looking to buy a sustainably and ethically made backpack.
Now, there are many questions that companies need to answer in order to be classified as a sustainable and ethical brand.
Do they participate in a carbon-offset scheme? Do they monitor their entire supply chain for the treatment of laborers? Are they using harmful chemicals in their dyes, do they source their leather from LWG certified tanneries and do they conserve water and electricity? The list goes on.
With the help of the ‘Good On You’ app which easily rates brands for you and simplifies the search, I could have bought a laptop backpack online quicksticks.
The only problem?
I didn’t want to wait for it, without any real idea of what it would look or feel like on my frame. In my experience they can tend to feel big, lack finished craft or have more of a “hiker chic” vibe than the urban appeal that I want.
What I needed was a physical retail space to help me see, feel and touch the brands that I’d seen on my screen.
Luckily I found a store designed for just those purposes, with a portfolio including a growing range of sustainability-focused backpacks.
So, clutching my phone and plagued by thoughts of what I didn’t know, I entered the store and received an appropriately friendly welcome by an associate.
As there wasn’t a big display differentiation between eco-brands and those that weren’t, most of my time in-store was spent cross-referencing the brands on the shelves with my app. Then I fell for one particular brand…whose app ratings turned out to be disappointing.
I went to the brand in question’s website, where they had written their own reports assuring of their responsible rucksack processes.
…I didn’t really know where to go from there.
Had a well-informed associate approached me with some facts I probably would have been putty in their hands.
But there wasn’t, so I wasn’t.
I was tired, so I left. I decided that I would just risk it all and go for an Eco-Culture approved brand from an online store (one that had a similar style to what I’d tried on
Maybe it’s for the best. I might love what’s delivered, and the brand in question might just have been green-washing their website. But the point is, the store lost a sale and the opportunity to become a customer’s trusted authorities.
Tip 1: Unique interests or priorities are shaping how people buy. Concept stores attract like-minded customers. Their relevancy makes it a more personalized in-store experience…something 38% of shoppers will willingly provide data to encourage!
One form of data collection, however, is good old conversation. The flip side of this data collection is that retailers must be equipped to deal with the more specific, targeted questions that they may be faced with on the floor.
Tip 2: It’s not just me! Natalie Berg’s whitepaper ‘Changing the Retail Landscape’ with Dbk and RedAnt says that the majority of sales today are digitally influenced.
“The assistance of mobile phones has empowered customers, enabling them to make far more informed decisions before, during and after the transaction. And when shoppers want to learn more about a product, it can be quicker to consult their phones rather than seek out a sales associate.”
Yup. sounds about right. So now what?
Tip 3: Retailers can equip staff to have more meaningful connections with their shoppers. Many innovative solutions are available – some can do menial tasks and free up time, some provide in-depth knowledge on their brands, some do both. Analytics will enable you to understand exactly which of these you’ll need to invest in.
Berg says “Sales associates will have to become genuine ambassadors for the brand – knowledgeable, passionate and motivated – and therefore it’s essential that retailers are empowering and incentivizing their staff accordingly. Brand evangelism starts with the employee. They need to be there when the customer wants them, to assist rather than sell, so that the customer can make a considered purchase.”
Bonus tip: If your store is situated in a multi-lingual location and you don’t have multi-lingual associates, try to feature a few widely spoken languages on your in-store signage. Just remember that most websites are multi-language at the click of a button 😉
That’s it for the tips. Hope you find them useful!
So in conclusion, believe it or not, customers know they need physical stores. We root for them! But a brick and mortar establishment needs to provide an even more valuable, even more fulfilling, shopping experience than what online channels can. And all you need for that is a Vision of where to start.
Visit Vision.gl and let’s begin.