Just the other day, I read a great quote from one of my fellow ReTHINK Retail top influencers on sharing how much they were thrilled by the recognition of being ‘inducted’ but that they didn’t consider themselves either an influencer or a thought leader, in favour of being a student of the subject.
And that got me thinking.
Because the reality is that we are all students, constantly learning, reappraising, re-evaluating and reconsidering; and when it comes to retail, we are most likely doing this on an almost constant basis, such is the pace of change we are currently witnessing.
And that led me to consider what is it that we, as consumers, are currently seeking? I’d argue that it’s not low, low prices or amazing out of this world digital experiences.
You see, the world today can be a pretty inhospitable place and that is leading us to seek something far more closer to home. Much more familiar. Something which we feel comforted by. Something we feel gives us a feeling of warmth, security, and well-being.
Yes, of course we all still love a bargain, something to illustrate just how smart we are to our friends and family, but that feeling is ephemeral; we need something more to keep us going, keep us reassured that despite everything going on in the world around us, we will be safe.
And in so many ways, retail provides that comfort blanket, an ever-present familiar face to turn to.
At last week’s NRF conference in New York, the stand-out topic for discussion was customer experience and that’s not surprising. Retailers are facing a loyalty challenge like never before and what better way to attract and retain customers than by giving them the best experience possible?
But what that also means today is that the experience should provide a safe haven, somewhere we can go without stress, without worry and where trust is engrained in the very fabric of the business.
Much has been written and said about the more traditional retail metrics (I’m guilty as charged myself) — sales per square foot, net promoter score, footfall data and so on.
But the one which really matters today surely is, “how is my customer feeling”. Are they content, excited, distressed, anxious - because all of those emotions will determine whether they visit your website, walk in your store, use your app.
And they may experience all of those emotions during a single shopping journey, when, in reality, all they’re really after are white lilies and jacket potatoes. Because, when you think about it, isn’t that what we’re all craving right now?