Monthly Archives: July 2017

The retail experience – don’t ignore the details.

They say it’s the little things that make a difference. That attention to detail that elevates an interaction and makes it more meaningful. What’s true in life is true in retail, too.

I was recently stuck at LaGuardia. Ground delay. Shocking, I know. We were fortunate enough to pass the time in the American Airlines Admiral’s Club., Aside from drinking free cocktails and eating the cheese cubes, we did what all good consumers do in their spare time – surfed our phones.

My girlfriend visited one of her favorite sites, Mark and Graham (owned by Williams-Sonoma). She wasn’t shopping out of a specific need need, well, at least I didn’t think so. As she shopped, one detail she mentioned got me thinking: every delivery you receive from Mark and Graham is gift wrapped. Cool. I realize you can opt for giftwrapping via other online merchants, too. But think of extra touch Mark and Graham have taken in gift wrapping every one of its orders. You can even view a video of what it looks like here.  It’s a small detail, but it goes a long way. What lesson can retailers take from this little touch?

It’s the experience, stupid

Retail has become all about the experience, and not simply the act of acquiring more “stuff.” Whether that experience is linked to a store like a Cabela’s, with its aquariums and mock mountains, or a Nordstrom, complete with everything from hair salons to champagne bars, or even Restoration Hardware, some of which feature high-end pizza restaurants,  it’s an added touch that caters directly to those retailers’ biggest fans – their customers. Experience isn’t limited to online or brick and mortar – it’s about how customers perceive and interact with the brand in all channels. Do you have a good online ordering experience? How is the delivery and what about returns? Are your stores staffed by brand ambassadors? Can your supply chain deliver a personalized experience wherever the customer chooses to engage? All these aspects go into the consumer’s experience with the brand. A simple touch like gift wrapping each order is Mark and Graham’s way of making their customer feel special. Receiving a package in the mail is part of the excitement of ordering online.It’s a pseudo gift, even when the item is for the person who ordered it. If shoppers aren’t going to go to a physical location to acquire the product, the box it ships in is the only way to extend a brand’s experience to them. Make it count. Make that customer feel special.

Personalization

I realize wrapping an item you ordered, with the same wrapping paper for all orders, is not very personal. However, retailers need a starting point. For Mark and Graham, gift wrapping is the beginning; it’s a personalized touch, albeit at mass scale. But personalization has to start somewhere. If the right systems and access to information, perhaps a next step is personalized messages in each package. Maybe it’s a special offer, or something tied to a big day or an event – we already see this with many retailers who send birthday promotions. But could savvy retailers start adding personalized messages that aren’t simply birthday coupons? A customer has ordered some sailing gear from Helly Hansen, maybe in the package Helly Hansen includes personalized advice or a message about the best sailing based on the customer’s location. Restoration Hardware could provide tips on the right types of anchors to secure that new shelf to the wall. Macy’s could tell you which pocket square to pair with the new shirt. The opportunities are endless.

These days are tough for brands and retailers (I know, Capt. Obvious). But they need to look at the likes of Mark and Graham, and focus on the little details that can differentiate themselves in a challenging market. Of course, you still need to have competitive prices, the right inventory and all the other key aspects that consumers expect. But even the smallest details make a difference, elevating the experience beyond a simple transaction into something special customers will remember. And that will keep them coming back.

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