When I compare the midsize retail markets to larger markets, there is no question that the department stores in larger markets, as well as flagships, will be the doors to snag the innovation dollars and technology investment from their corporate management.
This leaves the mid-size/ smaller markets in a challenging position to find creative and cost effective ways to reach new shoppers and populate the store.
It’s hard to imagine a time other than the month of December when the store is filled consistently with a shopping public—meaningful shoppers on a mission to find what they are looking for and eager to spend their money.
Department stores were once a bastion for all of life's moments and occasions. The store was a meeting place for the tastemakers, culture seekers, career minds, girlfriends and boyfriends, gift toting husbands, and mothers young and old. Even for the most basic needs, the store was a reliable and trusted destination for life and style.
In the process of everyone’s life happening, the stores were selling a lot of merchandise and creating traditions and experiences for people.
Today, nearly half of all shoppers prefer to avoid the whole experience and just get it done online.
As internet sales continue to cannibalize brick and mortar business, product accessibility and service is the only way management can make the store a great destination once again in the new age of retail.
The idea list is long, but in this shortlist of options, helping the store entice new shoppers and nurture the existing ones with a more lifestyle-centric and customized experience is just a think tank away.
Showcasing Tailoring and Alterations Services Prominently
Many big stores do their customers a huge disservice by having a small alterations footprint available. Alterations service is a behemoth touchpoint in the offerings to the customer. Many chain department stores ship garments to other locations to be altered and finished, forgoing an enriching customer experience to help satisfy their customer base.
Store management must make a strong effort to identify and hire the best tailors and seamstresses in their market to be a part of their store family.
Customers never forget a great fitting garment. Knowing that your product will make them look and feel good is always an invitation to come back to your store.
Welcoming Mommy and Baby for a Relaxing Shopping Experience
Young moms need all the help they can get, and they represent a substantial customer base for growing a business. Offering a private room or respite lounge to pull themselves together is a brilliant way to understand who is shopping in your store. Imagine all the things you can cross promote to this captive audience as they slip into relaxation… anything from beauty to apparel to babywear.
Put the Mommy Club near a convenient and secure space, such as the credit office or near fitting rooms. Create a dedicated space for these young mothers who just want to look good. Make these moms feel welcome. They have money to spend, and will return to shop in your store and, perhaps, rest a bit in the Mommy Club.
Enticing Stylish Culinary Creatures into Your Store
The retailer has so much to say with promotions, events, new arrivals, and product launches.
It’s a never-ending mission to get the word out that they are a lifestyle authority. Food and fashion will always be a golden ticket in creating excellent introductions to build and cultivate a clientele.
Creating that basic food offering doesn’t necessarily mean retailers need to operate a full-service restaurant in their stores. It can be as simple as partnering with a local bakery or opening a snack or dessert bar with a small selection of signature dishes.
Food, like fashion, gets people excited. And, if stores can find and equation and manageable formula to create a basic restaurant feature, they could drive more daily traffic and get repeat customers into their store.
Creating a New In-Store Experience With the Internet Lounge
Also included in the experience, a schedule of exclusive online promotions in the store, along with product demonstrations will help build the sale. Much like an airline preferred client lounge sans food and bar service, the internet lounge could help build loyal clientele, creating the greatest new designated launch pad the store has ever had.
As store management continues to be challenged with finding new customers, keeping the old ones happy, as well as dealing with the beating drum of internet sales, enhancing service and store offerings doesn't have to require papal permission. It does require, though, support from visionaries at the top, a detail-oriented store manager, and a responsible and capable sales team to help facilitate. Stores can once again be a destination for life’s moments and occasions if the store can relate to their customers in more ways than one.
Read part one of Jerry's in-store Customer Experience blog series, "Talent Matters: The Convenience Culture and Sales Excellence in the New Age of Retail."
Schedule a Consultation
Are you interested in learning about other creative and cost effective ways to nourish relationships with your customers, build brand loyalty, and increase traffic in your store? Contact customer experience expert Jerry Talamantes at Jerry@remodista.com to schedule a consultation and discuss strategic ways to reach the people in your market.