By John Blake

With the rise of online shopping, there has been much talk about the whole idea of the “user experience”. The theory is that the user experience of buying something online for consumers is more predictable and more consistent than in a traditional store.

Add to that the perception of “getting something cheaper on the net” and you have a serious competitor to the traditional bricks and mortar retail business.

In many ways retailers have been “hunkered down” for the last 10 years. They have really been concentrating on remaining profitable throughout this unprecedented period of retail turmoil.

What I have noticed in the last couple of years, however, is a sort of “coming up for air” with those battle-hardened retailers who are still in the game. The smarter ones have noticed that there is still an opportunity out there to capture the hearts and minds of consumers who still want to go out to shop.

The opportunity is to capitalise on the thing that only bricks and mortar retailers can offer that online retailers can’t – and that’s to create a truly visceral retail experience.

An experience that engages a larger proportion of the senses – the live sight, tactile feel of garments and the exciting new smell of freshly hung stock.

Which is all very well and good, but we need to make the human factor consistent with the flowing shop architecture, the immaculately merchandised product and the heightened visual nature of live shopping if we are going to continue to compete and compete to win.

And this in many cases is where the side gets let down.

It’s where providing “exceptional customer service” which so many retailers claim is a good idea or something to strive for, but rarely achieve.

So what do we do about it?  Well, here are some of the foundational pillars to making your clients experience with your staff consistent with your brand promise and really capitalising on the opportunity to capture the hearts and minds of the live shopper.

  1. Bigger Vision – these are great to have but they need to come from your team. Unless your key team members who form part of your retail DNA are part of the process of coming up with this vision, it will simply be a directive from management. Something everyone will be able to say it but no one will actually do.
  2. Values – same goes for your values. If you get this right it can be a granite-tough foundation for your business to thrive, but again for it to work you need to make sure you have buy in from your staff.
  3. Process – if you get the above two areas right you then need to create an agreed upon sales process and client journey that everyone is 100% clear on and actually wants to use.

If you do the work of getting these foundations in place you will not only create a better culture in your business, but you will also create a business that doesn’t just pay lip service to it’s values, vision and service mantra. You will have a business that live and breathes it for many years to come.

*John Blake has been in direct sales for 22 years and has had a long involvement in sales and marketing within the surf industry. His company offers direct sales breakthrough solutions, including training for on-floor retail staff.