“It’s how you sell it.”

The result from a Google search of this is ironic – a book for sale, on none other than Amazon. Dare I say, it looks like the big ‘A’ must have taken a page out of their own book….please don’t leave, this article gets better.

But seriously, there is a reason books and merchants have spelled out this simple truth since the dawn of commerce.

The reason is that poor selling techniques can make low conversion rates happen to good people. But don’t let it happen to you!

Thankfully, there’s a new kind of sales associate on the block.
The SUPER SELLER. 

These goal-oriented growth driven and tech-savvy people are perfectly poised to take retail brands like yours into tomorrow. You’ll need to equip them with comprehensive training that develops their skills and enables them to help shoppers explore product options, deal with concerns and make helpful recommendations. 

The investment is worth it – when you engage them in your business, they have the power to establish meaningful connections with shoppers, creating a winning service strategy.

For example, Grail Research/Mindtree found that 43% of shoppers who interact with associates are more likely to purchase, and these transactions account for 81% more value compared to customers who haven’t had this interaction. 

Take on this 3 Pronged Plan to get (and keep) your associates all charged up and ready for action.

Equip them for the best

  • Immerse them in the brand world and culture.
  • Provide technologies that can keep them up to date with company news, macro trends, or to make their busy-work easier so that they are free to help customers. 
  • Empower them to understand their own impact on retail traffic conversion rates with group workshops or individual meetings that include them in target goals setting.
  • Incentivize to excite!
  • Coach with consistent feedback. 
  • Schedule and deploy according to a good strategy.  Send most sales soldiers out on the field in times of high foot traffic, not according to your historical highest sales hours.

Prepare them for the worst

Dealing with difficult situations come with the customer service territory. These important make-or-break points happen before, during and after the purchasing phase. Keeping these points handy will help prevent them from putting a foot wrong. 

  1. Acknowledge the customer with a smile and open body language. 
  2. Listen first. 
  3. Summarize all pain points
  4. Communicate what you can do about it, or assure them you will put them in touch with someone who can. And then actually do that. 

Now, this needs some extra attention. To ‘listen’ sounds passive- but it’s actually a very productive skill. If a customer is in distress, acknowledge that and try as much as possible to operate from within their frame of reference. 

The below Ted talk, The Power of Listening By William Ury, fantastically highlights the importance of this skill. Here is a man who has helped negotiate civil wars with the power of listening, or as he puts it, listening to get to yes. We think it’s safe to to say this can help your salespeople get more yesses.

Understand Where You Stand

Receiving feedback on your store and the service within it will not only help you run your business, but also helps you coach your associates to better their skills and provide job fulfilment. 

How do you get feedback?

Your teams will gather valuable insights during interactions, however, these opinions might not be shared among the majority of consumers, or may not be very valuable feedback in the bigger picture of the business. And if this feedback is actually about your store teams, you’re likely not to receive a truly honest account until it’s on your brand’s social media page and the damage is done.

That is why from a management perspective it is important to keep customer service as a separate area of focus, so that you can make proactive decisions.

The feedback funnel starts with identifying key patterns or trends from a broad analysis of all how associate interactions fare at encouraging customers to reach the point of sale.

Are associates giving your visitors the right amount of time to browse before approaching them in a non-invasive manner? If they are busy with another activity and a customer enters, are they acknowledging the customers and assisting them when needed? Is there a particular zone in your store where people prefer to be assisted, and others where they decline help in order to browse freely? 

Once you know these patterns, you will know what areas need your most personal attention during your store visits. At this stage of the feedback funnel, you will be better informed to either ask the important questions in store or to send out to customers within your database.

A tip: Always begin with open-ended questions to know what customers are thinking- rating scales and multiple choice questions tend to limit their answers within your own assumptions. 

The best way to track your customer service and its impact on purchases is with the feedback funnel. First, a customer analytics solution like Vision measures interactions related to the journey from traffic to POS. Then, more targeted direct questions will unlock the reasons behind it. 

Sources: https://retailnext.net/en/blog/4-useful-tips-to-increase-conversion-in-store/

Top Tips of CX Legends

As a retailer, would you rather grow by 17% or 3%?

Yes, we’d suck at a game of “Would You Rather” because this one is stupidly obvious. However, it is a hard hitting truth that experience leaders grow their retail business at an average of 17% over 5 years, compared to their experience laggard peers.

Customer experience is everything because it really IS everything by definition. Whether good or bad, customer experience is unwittingly already being provided at every level- including all people, logistics, system, and management involved.  So how do you ensure that great experiences are built into your retail customer journey?

Much like Grasshopper, we have much to learn from these greats.

Amazon

One of Forbes’ 100 Top Customer Experience retailers, their success is driven by an innate customer centricity- something Jeff Bezos has said defines their company. 

Amazon knows that their customers value making purchases that are informed by research, so they serve reviews, images of the product as uploaded by previous buyers as well as a comparison against similar available products. While this is an e-commerce example, customer centricity is an important take-away. Understanding customer behaviour can help you to optimize your store in new ways. 

For example, E-commerce revealed that people prefer to browse through fragrances according to the scent families like floral or spicy notes, and not by brand. As a result of this finding, Macy’s and Perch Interactive implemented new mixed reality product displays organised by scent families.

The result was a double lift in sales. Remember, the customer invests a higher level of time and effort when visiting a store as they do with an online search, so naturally the store should be even more focused on reducing friction in customer journeys, and on helping them make purchase decisions. 

Sephora

Another on the Forbes list, this omni-channel beauty brand calls around 2300 stores home, worldwide. They are digital disruptors using technology to keep make-up shopping a personal and rapturous affair. 

Make up shops can be intimidating, with rows and rows of colour-coded promises to make you look better, designed by people who probably know what suits you better than you do. Right? 

Wrong. 

You want to make up your own mind, to try and see what you like. And Sephora’s here for it.

Their in-store “Beauty Hub” is a digitally-enabled experience helping customers find their most ideal products. It’s virtual lookbook gives personalized inspiration, and a Virtual Artist service lets you test out looks using augmented reality and mixed reality.

Sephora have executed considering their understanding of their customers in order to optimize the store for customer’s specific behaviour and desires. 

Lowes 

Lowes’ experiments with technology in the pursuit of better customer experience has been an interesting journey to watch.

These are just 3 of their shiniest technological investments:

• AI Lowe-Bot 

This autonomous robot answered basic questions, and navigated customers through a store. It kept track of inventory in real time and detected sales patterns that could guide business decisions. The Lowe-bot was a pilot project for only one year, concluding with the finding that any tech additions must lead to better person to person connections. So there it is,  you didn’t have to pay for a bot to learn that insight.

Lowes Vision Powered by Tango

This home improvement visualisation tool showed 3D renders of objects within customer’s homes, which is a similar concept to Ikea Place and Amazon View.
As you can see, digital innovation does not always mean differentiation in the eyes of customers. 

Lowes VR clinic

This in-store VR experience teaches customers how to use their home improvement products. It is unique to the function of the store, giving a memorable experience that leaves customers more equipped to do the job than when they entered. 

Glossier

Yet another make up retailer making up the Forbes list, Glossier wisely wedged themselves in the gap between drug store brands and high end luxury. Because of this, their business revolves around practices that fit in with people’s every day lives.

They initially aimed to empower customers and communities with fun and educational content and are now extending their community into brick and mortar stores. 

What is most notable is that they’ve created interesting structures within their organisation.  What really stands out is that customer service agents are integrated into the marketing team, and are tasked with listening to customers and sharing their unique experiences and recommendations.

Some of the best marketing is actually just caring for the customer. An aspect taken to another level when one employee helped a fire evacuee.

While the Thomas Fire burned through California, a Glossier employee spent days conversing with a customer who had to evacuate. The employee followed up to make sure the customer and her family were safe. After the customer returned home, Glossier sent a package with the customer’s favorite makeup products.

The common denominator employed by all companies: Solve for the customer.

It’s clear that remarkable customer experience can take many forms- however just adding a restaurant or a popular new technology to your store is not an end in itself.  Customer experience leaders first identify broken parts of the customer journey and then focus their time, money and skills into solutions for these real problems. 

Vision Customer-Analytics can help you get in the lead. Computer Vision and AI combine to show which areas need improvement, and the potential your store holds. Understanding is the first step to streamlining your in-store operations with solutions that bring joy and drive your KPI’s.

Visit Vision.gl now and let’s get started.

Experiential Retail Made Smarter

You don’t need to be a visionary to know that experiential retail is the future.

Delivering a memorable experience should be top of every physical retailer’s list. But as with every worthwhile change, like starting a workout plan or getting rid of a mullet, success starts with a change in mindset. 

The clue to the ailing mindset behind traditional stores can be found in what we call them. The word for ‘store’ has roots in the Medieval Latin ‘staurum.’ The meaning ‘place where goods are kept for sale’ can be traced back to a more recent year, 1721. 

And therein lies the inconvenient truth. 

Most individuals in modern society aren’t buying bulk. Until the zombie apocalypse, we won’t be stocking up on tinned beans.

Instead, the average person now has at least 15 different types of beans along with a billion other product choices at their fingertips, thanks to E-commerce. That’s more immediate options than the number of unique lines making up their fingerprint. 

More and more of these ID fingerprints are being used to approve simple transactions, securing basic household goods on consumer’s screens without them ever visiting a store. And with the Internet of Things (IoT) set to become a household word, well-equipped homes all over the world will be the ones doing the purchasing. 

As you can see, the more technologically empowered society is to get what it needs when it needs it, the more likely it is that the only kind of storage people will need is on their iCloud. 

So. Why do shoppers need “stores” again?

Well, they don’t. But they do need things, want to be entertained, and will buy said things while they’re at it. 

Thanks to Computer Vision technology, space once used for hoarding stock can now be used in exciting new ways- ways that create memorable experiences, communicate important information about the products on offer and discover more about customers.

Yes, technology has in part taken away the need for the traditional store. But with the right mindset, new smart technology can be leveraged to collect insights on shopping behavior that in turn informs retailers on how to provide new compelling reasons for shoppers to visit. 

How Computer Vision is converting stores into experiential spaces:

  • In Augmented Reality 

Computer vision algorithms electronically perceive and understand imagery from camera sensors that can inform AR systems about the user and their surroundings.  Augmented reality then imbues product displays with a new dimension of interactivity, adding to the customer experience. 

“In-aisle innovation is shifting how we perceive the future of retail, opening the possibilities of what can be done to shape customer experiences.”

Trevor Sumner, CEO of Perch Interactive

Perch Interactive is an interactive retail display platform uniting physical products with digital content to engage shoppers, analyze behavior, & drive sales.

It’s fun to watch, so have a look. (We weren’t paid to say this- it’s genuinely interesting!) 

The use of augmented reality allows shoppers to imagine the product in the environment of their own lifestyle as if they owned it. This is a key customer desire. In fact, virtual try-on for clothing items rank in the top 5 of tech-driven retail experiences that customers want. 

  • In Customer Analytics

Computer Vision works behind the scenes to provide retailers with customer analytics. With visitor consent, intelligent optical sensors identify and process the information on shoppers and their journeys in order to gain insights on which parts of the experience need refining or re-strategizing. 

Take in-store interactions, a physical retail cornerstone, for example.  According to Red Ant’s White Paper on the Experiential store, one John Lewis store reported that just 6 personal stylists generated a notable 20% of all womenswear sales in 2018. 

To achieve results such as these, Customer Analytics can be used to empower the sharing of inspiration and advice that can only come from interpersonal relationships. It does this by providing retailers with relevant information so that better decisions can be made regarding shift planning, training in personalized approaches, etc.

Other areas of investigation which reveal optimization opportunities would be understanding the demographics of your visitors, how they are impacted by store displays, floor plans, and new marketing materials. Everything within a retail store is an investment, so customer analytics ascertains ROI in order to improve it.

The road from “staurum” to “destination” may seem long. However, with a mind to explore tech’s new ways to work with customers through innovations such as Computer Vision, you can shape the future of retail today.

Visit Vision.gl for more

North Face’s New Face (And Store Proposition)

Practical retail insights that promote success? We’re into that. 

That’s why we’re digging into the work of Chris Aubrey, VP of global retail at Dyson. His recent piece outlined how a differentiated store proposition can lead to retail success. And today, we’re going to apply his theories to a brand that’s making some big changes.

The North Face has clearly outlined their new proposition with a new global retail strategy, ushered in by the opening of a new base-camp themed concept store in Soho.

Photo Credit: The North Face/Sasha Turrentine

“The brand will transform its existing locations into basecamps for exploration, aiming to create a stronger connection with consumers and evolve The North Face retail environment to a space that feels more like the brand and less like a store.”

-Mark Parker, Vice President of Direct to Consumer, as reported by Cision.

Parker explained that their new mission lies in creating environments that highlight their heritage, allowing consumers to deeply connect with the brand. 

This fits very neatly into Aubrey’s definition of a Brand Showcase format, illustrated below. The store proposition for this format is to help customers get to know the brand like never before. 

From ‘Winning in retail – how a differentiated value proposition can drive retail success’ By Chris Aubrey

For a Brand Showcase to have a competitive advantage, the store must deliver on various critical success factors. So, let’s look at how this store fares against Aubrey’s crucial success metrics:

  • A museum-esque archive featuring The North Face athlete expeditions and icon products? This could get people talking, and has the potential to resonate with shoppers in a compelling and powerful way.
  • Standing fitting areas near racks? Well, that’s just epic convenience. 
  • A signature ‘Half Dome’ scent designed to transport customers to the outdoors? It communicates the brand first.
  • Associates that are known as “guides,” equipped to offer gear and exploration recommendations tailored to local adventure? With roles such as these, staff can become passionate advocates which is a competitive advantage often enjoyed by a Brand Showcase. 

The verdict is in. It’s a great start to securing a competitive advantage; namely the crafting of outstanding and interactive storytelling for a unique brand experience that can be found nowhere else.

This new store positioning is an evolution from the one used in last year’s Brooklyn ‘retail lab’ store-opening. There, the mission was to explore how a retail space can leverage consumer journeys to elevate the customer experience.

“This is something we can test and learn from in order to build new locations that better serve the customer in the future. We’re looking at it as a retail lab. When we think about how we as a company can adjust to the changing customer, this store is going to help us do just that.”

-Mark Parker, Vice President of Direct to Consumer

The lab was a digitally-empowered store which collected data, in order to understand how to improve the customer experience offering. The gathered information included recorded dwell times within various areas to understand how and where people spent time inside, among other things.

The jury is out on whether the lab findings officially led to The North Face’s renewed retail strategy, but one thing is certain: They invested in getting to know their customers before making exciting changes.

And we can help you get there too.

Using computer vision and AI technology, Vision.gl measures data from outside the store through to the point of sale. Then we serve you ready-to-action insights to help improve the entire in-store experience.

Take the first step to finding your competitive advantage. Visit Vision.gl.

*Aubrey published a number of store formats with propositions as well as their own particular critical success factors. The full slideshow is available here.

I Went to A Store And All I Got Were These 3 Tips

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
in-store.)

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.

5 Moves to Pull Off That Pop-Up Shop

As experts in using in-store data to maximize store performance and revenue, we’re passionate about boosting all in-store aspects that form the customer experience.

Are you wanting to dive into the growing pop-up scene, but aren’t sure how? 

Well, first things first, we applaud your decision to include this important retail channel into your sales and marketing mix! Pop-up stores are great places for testing concepts and products, getting feedback from new markets without the upfront rollout costs (Research says pop-up stores cost 80% less to launch than a full-time store), and can also draw attention and drive hype around your brand.

But we also want to help make sure your pop-up makes your brand really…erm…pop.

And since these limited editions grace square ft. everywhere from Fifth Avenue to Berlin, we collected a few key learnings to help you right here.

1: Purpose. 👏Purpose. 👏Purpose.👏

Why are you doing the pop-up at all? 

It’s tempting to answer this with the triumvirate- Advertising, Engagement and Sales. However, those are the secret socks while your customer cares about the shoe. No one wants to see the practical measures you’ve taken to appear effortlessly casual. 

This is about asking: What can this medium amplify? How can it be used to introduce more about your brand, a new concept, a new product? And if you’re smart, you’ll ask how a pop-up can help you get to know your customers better.  

Exhibit A: Peach & Lily are a Korean beauty company known for developing their business according to how customers respond to their products online. It’s no surprise then that they have chosen to make the most of the direct customer access that popups provide, so they can get quick feedback.

“The part of our business that we love exploring is how beauty is both functional and emotional, but the emotional elements of a product that speak to customers are challenging to [determine] online. The feeling of silkiness or the scent of a spice could stir up drastically different emotions to different customers.”

– Peach & Lily Founder Alicia Yoon, Glossy

Peach & Lily therefore use the pop-ups to gather customer data in order to ensure they are getting the right product-market fit. They also tweak their offerings in response to the needs and preferences of their customers.

2: Time It Right 🕝

Retail seasons are about as predictable as the Gregorian calendar. We know they are guaranteed to change- and when they do, customers will be in the mood to try something new. So why don’t you? 

Periods such as Fall/Winter, Spring/Summer and Back To School are perfect times to promote new products and attract new customers with themed pop-ups.

Just remember to do some research ahead of the time- you’ll need to target locations where your target market normally frequent.

You’ll also need to engage with pop-up real estate agents to secure your coveted space at least 6 months in advance. 

3: Equip Your Sales Soldiers 💪

This is not about rounding up some students or backpackers to hand out pamphlets.

Though the pop-up is there for only a temporary time, your brand presence is in it for the long game- so everyone on the floor should know the score. This means whether you use trusted staff from flagships to man the pop-up, or find new associates who can be moved elsewhere afterward, you need to be training them.

Pop-ups offer customers a new type of personal experience, so staff should be equipped to live out this message and story, depending on what the pop-up concept and mission is. This great Storefront article by Alexandra Sheehan will help you do that. 

Referring to JLL’s Six Dimensions of Retail Experiences, it’s no surprise to see that quality human interactions between customers and knowledgeable associates are one of the six in the mix!

4: Don’t Forget The Art Part 🎨

It’s a form follows function kind of thing. The shape of a building, floorspace or location should relate to, and even play with, extend or emphasize, its intended function or purpose.

So first analyze the space to understand how to best lead your visitors through it. Where do you want them to linger? What focal points are needed to draw their attention to certain displays or products? What spots enable your visitors to explore and interact with your brand? 

Identify any friction points or problems that could be used to your advantage and then get cracking on your strategic and visual design. How can you visually represent your brand and achieve your strategic goals? These two must reinforce each other if you want them to deliver on your aesthetically immersive pop-up promise.

The 6 Dimensions of Retail Experiences model makes it clear that every effort must be made to make a retail space appealing and captivating- so get creative with opportunities for people to enjoy the space.

While you aren’t likely to need a team to position your pop-up store structure, why not take inspiration from the smart spacial strategies used in Bikini Berlin.

Bikini Berlin Image Credit: Bikini Berlin 
Bikini Berlin Image Credit: Bikini Berlin 

As told to InsiderTrends, Bikini Berlin pop-up mall faced challenges around positioning, attendance, footfall, and architecture – concerns that face everyone planning a pop-up.

Bikini Berlin was repositioned in collaboration with Dan Pearlman, a multi-disciplinary team specializing in the integrated process of retail design thinking.

It now houses beautifully curated pop-ups and events complete with seating, swings, Wi-Fi and the biggest free co-working space in Berlin. Their progress is ongoing, with analytical technologies helping Bikini Berlin to evolve as customer behaviors change. This brings us to…

5: Facts Are Always A Great Idea 💡

A reliable analytics system will provide the bones for wonderful aesthetics and experiences. The result? Elevation of your brand and business goals achieved.

Are you ready? Let us help measure more than just your pop-up sales –  or just pop in to let us know it’s happening!

Get in touch at Vision.gl 

Experience: Retail’s New Manifesto

Physical retail is an international love affair. We’ve mused over Mexican in Palm Springs- now pop round the corner with us to Manifesto, the food ‘n culture concept taking over Prague.

Image: HowFarFromHome

This street food and design haven won Mastercard’s Retailer of the Year in 2018, and is known among tourists and locals alike for enchanting igloos that keep you as warm as your winter mulled wine.

This playground of international chefs, performers, and makers is so impressive that a well-respected attendee had this to say:

“It was a provocative and bold combination, much like Manifesto’s mission: to push for the innovative use of Prague’s cityscape while stimulating the senses.”

The New York Times

So successful was the concept that a second Manifesto Market opened just last week in the neighborhood of Smichov. 

The best part? The new venue is as unique as the first. 

They’ve taken customer experience to new heights, like the ones reached by current European summer temps. Thankfully, the new Manifesto Market is a refreshing city oasis. Customers can escape the heat with a dip in the blue pool waters, enjoying Czech beers and take in a movie at the summer cinema.

Images: Vision.gl and Manifesto Instagram

Interestingly, calling people customers in a set-up like this feels strange. Because while people do come here to buy food and other lifestyle goods, they also arrive to experience so much more. The word “attendees” feels so much more apt.

That is where the power in physical retail lies- in providing customer service and customer experience that makes your customers feel that they can come to spend some quality time, as well as money. 

This weekend, we were among a throng of other excited Manifesto attendees.

Customer experience obsessed as we are, we did notice some points they could address in the pursuit of #custexp perfection. (Please note, we share these only to help.)

  • Let’s talk queues. We expected these on the opening weekend, but it doesn’t have to be this way forever. Going forward, why not try adding other temporary service areas to allow a faster flow of service during the crazy hour. 
  • Additional bussing staff can help eateries keep on top of service too – sipping red wine out of a champagne flute is fun and all, but we prefer to swirl our nectar of the gods around a rotund glass bottom. Refusing service due to glassware issues would result in loss of sales- and thankfully for us, they didn’t resort to that!
  • Lastly, the spacing between a couple of the eateries was very tight. Why does this matter? Because it was sometimes difficult for people to view menus and take their time in choosing what they wanted.  A few of the menus and signage for toilets could have been more visible too.

Otherwise, it’s a massive thumbs up. We love Manifesto, and so do a bunch of really important people.

“The operators of Manifesto have placed Prague next to London and Lisbon where similar concepts exist.”

– E15

“Prague has recently made a massive leap up the coolness scale.”

– Lonely Planet 

Manifesto’s impact proves experiential retail will not just bump up your bottom line. Your retail contribution can elevate entire cities, opening the doors to international relevancy. 

Of course, when your open-hours resemble festival times; your layout, stall-management and customer service need the kind of production-mentality usually reserved for event organizers.

And that’s means: Every. Single. Time. You. Operate.
That’s just what happens when you’re a game-changer.

And that’s exactly where we can help.

Vision.gl measures what happens in your store, or Solution Story, and provides actionable insights on how to design and manage all manner of touchpoints to delight your attendees.

 Let us help you create a brand new potential. Visit Vision.gl now!

Review Your Business- Don’t Just Leave It To Your Customers

Retail has turned the tables on tradition- Crate & Barrel’s concept store now serves food on theirs. That’s because people aren’t looking for more furniture every week, but they’ve gotta eat! So they might as well take their seat.

We explored such experiences in last week’s article. But today we make this case: careful self-monitoring is needed to make experience adds worthwhile. 

See, when you provide immersive retail experiences, you enter the world of hospitality. That’s the home of the original 5-star ratings!

People will share opinions- that’s showbiz, baby. 

“We train our customers to expect great service, so when customers don’t get it, they complain. Don’t promise something you can’t deliver.”

– Shep Hyken  

I’m here to tell you that customer analytics will help you do the necessary backstage work to keep the show on the road. 

With bad customer service leading to an annual loss of over $62 billion in the US alone, one can see the compounding effect of negative experiences. If you’ve kept an eye on our recent posts, you’ll have seen some true horror service stories. These are bad cases of PTSD (Person Traumatized by Service Douchery). 

Retail Wire’s George Anderson lays out the stats caused by the epidemic: 

  • 48% of consumers have left a negative review online, 73% of those have done so in the past year.
  • 79% said they would be “very” or “somewhat likely” to leave a negative review after a bad customer service. 
  • 41% say they have not gone online to express their unhappiness, but almost two-thirds of those regret not having done so.
  • 62% say they see how many stars a business has before making a purchase, showing that shopper opinions are what give you credibility. 

45% say they have shared a bad experience with others by traditional word-of-mouth. 

With stats like these, undertaking a new concept can feel intimidating. But with great risk comes great reward:  Bain & Company reports that the experience economy is projected to grow to $8 trillion by 2030

And besides, feedback is good for your business. Because even when it’s not a resounding “encore”, it can help you get there. 

“Given that the average American buys 65 garments per year (and that’s just garments — a tiny % of their 300,000 items owned), the 48% that file at least a single complaint a year doesn’t amount to much feedback…Those that give it care enough about the brand to make it better or enough about the experience to share immense frustration…Most customers don’t have the time or interest to complain to others, they will vote with their wallets first.”

– Ananda Chakravarty

With that in mind, one must remember that negative reviews are not the only means to improve the customer experience.

“The most egregious reviews tend to be the ones that describe profound lapses in basic customer service – till lines a mile long, disrespectful staff interactions or store cleanliness/organization.” 

– Mark Ryski

Therefore retailers should invest in an analytics solution in order to notice these unfavorable patterns immediately. 

Insights will show you how to improve staffing levels- in order to minimize queuing and to ensure there are associates present who can address complaints timeously so that customers won’t have to go online to be heard. Among other things, insights also indicate when and how to optimize store organization.

With a comprehensive set of metrics plotted along the customer journey, Vision.gl is designed to help you to read the room and to tailor your performance accordingly.

Do you want your store to receive better reviews?
Why not visit Vision.gl now.

It’s Not The Apocalypse

Not even close. It’s the Retail Renaissance. With so many shiny new Shoppicellis, Shoppespeares, and Merchantgelos appearing in the market place, how could it possibly be the end?

Conceptual, artistic and structural renovations are separating the winning stores from the losers, but what would a renaissance metaphor be without the contemporary scientific knowledge to back up this claim?

Behold, the stat:

Citing the RSR Research on Stores study, Ronny Max points out that 63% of Retail Winners (where sales are outperforming the average) prioritize major redesigns.

This shows there is a direct correlation between those that refresh their space and those who outperform.

Redesigns have the potential to engage a customer’s senses. Unlike buying online, customers in physical stores can touch products, see all angles, taste, and smell (which, depending on the item, could either be a practical choice or just seem a bit weird)

So how does a redesign become a remarkable experience?

By combining the senses to tell a cleverly crafted short story.

For example, the Gelson’s Market Sip and Shop story is something like:

Once upon a time (like today), you can bring a friend and drink wine together. While you do that, we’ll do your shopping because we have great customer service and we know shopping is not fun for you. The end.

In return for allowing customers to engage their senses in wine consumption, Gelson’s has reported a 35% increase in average basket size with the service than without.

Our second example has a more storybook name, albeit for adults.

Drunk Elephant’s pop-up, the House Of Drunk, was featured by Kaleigh Moore in this Forbes piece. She says experts gave tips, customers sampled products and then filmed their own Skincare Confession- revealing their true product first impressions. And so, the Drunk Elephant, Chapter 1 begins:

“The House of Drunk is the home of clean skincare, so we will be transparent with you. Come learn about our formulas, get expert tips, and confess what you really think of our stuff because we care what you think.”

These are stories that solve customer needs- and they make for truly great experiences. Let’s call these Solution Stories. But how do you ensure that your ‘Solution Story’ lives on when the paint has dried? Through carefully managing the customer connections happening within.

See, while the art of reinventing a beautiful store has progressed, so too have the scientific methods behind sustaining them. Enter retail analytics.

Computer vision means you can analyze the entire customer journey throughout your newly refurbished store. It allows you to test predicted outcomes against what actually happens- where do people move first? Where do they actually gather? What products are most attractive to them?

Flagship or not, stores are big vessels to steer- and constant incremental shifts can always set you in the right direction. Let analytics provide navigation by monitoring the behaviors inside your store.

  • Up to date insights on pathways and products help you to maintain the effectivity of displays and stocking decisions going forward.
  • Insights into interactions between store staff and customers show if associates are timely in approaching customers, engaging well, providing browsing time when necessary and helping when needed.
  • You’ll be able to ensure enough staff members for customer numbers, and generally, understand what’s happening in order to make decisions that empower everybody to take part in the Solution Story.

So, it’s time to make this your masterpiece. How can we help you bring your Solution Story to life?

Visit Vision.gl to find out.

Service Must Beat the Bot-Standard

Must brick & mortar adapt to survive?
Does a bear &*$!! in the woods?

It’s become obvious to all of us in physical retail that we must plan new strategies in order to succeed. Unlike our proverbial bear, we cannot afford to hibernate through the winter.

Physical retail has some intrinsic advantages that are key to the current and future success of brick and mortar. Namely the tangible customer experience of the physical environment and those who serve within. 

It was with this in mind that I came across “5 Ways Chatbots Can Enhance Customer Experience And Increase Sales In Retail by Compliant IA”

Of course, this piece is more aligned with e-commerce but it makes one think. Perhaps the passion for perfection seen in tech is something physical retail must learn from. 

The article recognizes that chat-bots are designed using the following principles to better the online customer experience: 

  1. They give customers control, by answering questions in real-time as if it were a conversation. They mimic the traditional role of the store associate.
  2.  They promote the brand message by communicating a persona, using the brand tone to announce promotions, sales, and discounts. It’s a new skin on tried and trusted in-store promoters and brand ambassadors.

These are distinctly human-like qualities, amiright? 

Smart move, world. It’s widely accepted that people feel comfortable dealing with trustworthy people. Many hours of development go into ensuring bots feel like a natural point of contact- into making them appear more like a helpful human. Surely this is something we actual humans should have down pat.

But do we?

Humans have excellent ‘people’ software- but we all need an update every now and then. Are our store associates trained to not only attain but exceed the bot-standard, in order to keep physical retail’s intrinsic advantage? Can they not only answer questions quickly but actively listen to customers- responding to changing circumstances, unexpected needs or wants? Do they know enough about their products to tailor their offerings? 

Thankfully, it’s easier than ever to empower store teams. 

That’s because the pursuit of tech perfection is also present in retail-analytics.

More specifically, solutions uniquely focused on in-store interactions can lead to improved individual service quality, as well as free up staff to do what they’re really uniquely poised for.

The best solution will give you insights that help you understand your engagements. That way you’ll know when training is needed so that all staff are exceeding bot-standard and reaching their full person-potential.

Your insights must also help you to schedule your staff better. For example, you should receive updates on changing high traffic times, so that you can always ensure there is enough time for the customer per staff member. This way no customer will have to settle for a “We’ll get back to your message as soon as possible.”

Those of us in physical retail have to be better than the bot. It’s our personal connections that prove we’re human- more than a traffic light reCAPTCHA test ever can.

Visit Vision.gl for more.