Gem Retail Hotlist: Barkers innovates the in-store experience

  • Design
  • November 21, 2019
  • Catherine Murray
Gem Retail Hotlist: Barkers innovates the in-store experience

Barkers won the 'Hottest in-store experience' award at the 2019 Gem Retail Hotlist. We've investigated what made them stand out.

Barkers delivers a shopping experience that’s definitely not off the rack. With a network of stores across New Zealand, it caters to customers’ needs from the ground up, from footwear and fashion to baristas and barbers. 

A ‘hot’ in-store experience literally starts with the bricks and mortar, says Glenn Cracknell, Chief Executive Officer.

“Great store design in the first instance is addressed independently to the ambient elements and human component. Once we get that right, we carefully layer the other elements on top, all the time keeping the customer at the forefront of our decisions.”

Each Barkers store has its own identity, championing the geography and history of its surrounds. These unique stores, such as The Boat Shed in Whangarei, The Rowing Club in Hamilton, and The Trading Post in Dunedin, create a clever connection with their community’s character and its residents.

“We have worked exceptionally hard in building a true lifestyle brand and believe the experiential elements of our stores are well suited to our customers,” says Cracknell.

He concedes that, in general, men aren’t frequent shoppers, so the goals of the in-store offerings are to increase the frequency of visits and dwell time. In selected stores the Groom Room offers a tailored range of classic men’s haircuts and cut-throat shaves and baristas brew fresh coffee, with a Made to Measure service on hand in Auckland and Wellington stores.

“Our main aim is to get the customers to engage with our style advisors,” says Cracknell. “Once we get over that hurdle, we can take them on a brand journey through our different ranges.”

With the motto ‘Made for Life’, the apparel and accessories brand is committed to making things better, now and in the future. A high level of transparency enables customers to understand and appreciate the culture of the company, contributing to an enhanced in-store experience through education and brand storytelling.

This year Barkers has adopted a more sustainable ethos through its partnership with Saitex, offering a range of clean denim and a new collection of 100 percent responsibly sourced and organic cotton called Common Thread. The new partnership offers up yet another opportunity to connect with customers, and delivers the new purpose of reducing environmental impact, while concurrently providing amazing subject matter to further enhance the customer journey.

Staying abreast of retail innovations from around the world and spending as much time on the shop floor as possible maintains a very clear understanding of what customers want, says Cracknell.  It’s all part of living and breathing the Barkers brand as its executives and shareholders, he says.

“Our vision and the evolution of that vision is centred around what our business is beyond profit, and it is those parts of the vision that will connect us to our customers.”

This story originally appeared in NZ Retail issue 764 October/November 2019.

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