Every great American retailer has depended on the special event to establish authority, advance selling and build brands. Throughout retail’s grand history in fashion, stores created the special event to introduce life and style to the masses. In-store events became standard to personally engage a new audience with ambience, product and a tangible experience. At the same time, events became a tool to achieve quarterly selling goals while growing and celebrating the customer base.
Today, the in-store fashion event is in crisis mode, as it competes with online retail promotions for a new generation of shoppers. It’s a high stakes competition to win the customer’s fancy and make the sale. If only it was a fair match.
Online shopping and the “online event” are seizing the moment.
Clearly, the in-store fashion event needs to re-invent if it is going to compete for generational relevance and a share of the customer’s dollar. In the advent of online shopping, dot com retailers can bill the digital experience, replete with price adjustments, suggestive selling, free shipping, copious selections, videos and blogs, as their special event.
Everyone is invited.
Unfortunately in the process, shopping and attending in-store events lost popularity and importance. For the retailer, it doesn’t mean the event offering and its ROI is diminished. In fact, it crystallizes the concept that events must be more creative and product driven than ever. Retailers and manufacturers must remain invested in special events to strengthen and fortify the brick and mortar retail experience. More than ever, in-store events should be exciting, sensory experiences embellished with people, brands and products.
Event Search and Rescue
Today, stores don’t have to be in crisis mode while creating events that compete with online shopping and online events.
Let’s compare the difference of the online event to the in-store special event, and establish where the opportunities are. We'll learn what stores may need to focus on in order to compete effectively with their online nemesis.
The difference in the elements between online and in-store special events are ideas to plan from, and reveal what might be included to specialize the event.
The Creative Key
After recently attending a Remodista Community Day in NYC that showcased new solutions looking at commerce, customer experience, the internet of things and artificial intelligence, it became apparent that in-store shopping and the special event remains in a constant state of reinvention. It really is an exciting time for shopping in both brick and mortar and online stores, especially in the realm of special events.
Here are a few of the companies I spoke with:
ContentSquare offers cloud-based software that helps businesses understand how and why users are interacting with their app, mobile and also web site. Their digital experience’ (UX) platform has been developed to enable companies to see how users interact with digital offerings but also to make the resulting insights actionable. If these actionable insights can be delivered automatically and in an easy to understand way, ContentSquare analytics can be a driver for change in the way digital teams work across the whole company.
Facenote allows any organization to transform their customer experience by enabling face recognition personalization and enhanced customer service. Simply by providing a selfie, customers can opt-in to be recognized any time they enter the store before they complete a purchase, and obtaining immediate benefits by connecting with the store CRM and customer history. Facenote is bringing personalized, customer-focused service back to stores.
Gift First, Pay After. Smartgift sits at the intersection of commerce, payments and social connections. We’ve paved the way for an equal innovation to exist for when people are buying for others, removing the friction inherent in gifting or peer to peer shopping. SmartGift is a global gift commerce, marketing and data platform trusted by leading brands and retailers. We augment transactional eCommerce into highly personalized experiential gifting. Their platform creates happy customers and unlocks powerful insights into gifting behaviors for our brand partners helping them make smarter marketing and merchandising decisions.
People and Product—The Most of the Moment
Retailers must have a socially connected selling team, who have personalities that can foster strong relationships with influentials.
Budgets must be justified and reserved, and creative ways found, to plan and execute the new cultivation event.
Shopping in the store has become an event in itself, with in-store special events remaining a cornerstone of the retail tradition with important new dynamics.
Beside just making the sale, it’s the merchant’s job to engage the right audience and create an exceptional experience.
Miss parts one and two of Jerry's Customer Experience series? You can find them here:
Talent Matters: The Convenience Culture and Sales Excellence in the New Age of Retail
The Customer Experience: A Better Offering, a New Attraction—A New Kind of Store
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