It's all about the little things - surprise and delight

  • Opinion
  • October 5, 2016
  • Fiona Kerr
It's all about the little things - surprise and delight

As I think back to a few years ago, I remember the furore about the imminent demise of brick and mortar retailing. It was over, they said. The digital revolution was upon us, and physical stores would soon be a thing of the past. Yikes.

Fortunately, that rhetoric has changed. I’m not saying it’ll always be this way – but for the moment, bricks and mortar stores are enjoying their moment in the sun. Two of the world’s largest e-commerce retailers, Amazon and Alibaba (maybe it’s something to do with the A’s?) have even diversified into traditional store formats.  

Image source:

Amazon’s first physical store in Seattle opened on November 2, 2015. When asked about the move, Amazon cited two key reasons for the decision – “reduced shipping costs”, and the creation of a “more human experience.” (Source:

In an effort to focus on its global import strategy, Alibaba is venturing into brick and mortar to give the Chinese market the ability to physically inspect, touch, and feel products before purchase. The internet giant explains that “61% of Chinese consumers say that they would pay more for a product made in the United States”, and that “26% of Chinese online consumers buy imported goods from foreign sites”. (Source:

These moves make perfect sense.

Why? Because retail is more than just a transaction. Retail is an emotive action, and it’s about an interaction with a brand, product, person or environment. That said, it’s not just about creating a fancy new store – retailers need to understand the market and their customers, and craft a space that both communicates what the brand stands for and translates that for consumers. By defining and developing various touch points along the path to purchase, retailers can engage with customers, excite them, and persuade them to part with their cash.   

Here are two examples of retailers that understand great CX, and know that often it’s the little things that make all the difference to shoppers.

Dan Murphy’s

Dan Murphy’s is a national liquor chain owned by Woolworths, which operates in 200 locations across Australia. The brand is probably best known for its everyday low price guarantee and hard-hitting advertising tagline (“Nobody beats Dan Murphy’s”) – but they also understand how important good experiences are to their customers.

Earlier this month, Dan Murphy’s opened a wine and whiskey library – The Cellar in the iconic Prahran Arcade, Melbourne. This site has historic relevance to the brand, as it was here that Daniel Francis Murphy first birthed the idea for a national liquor retailer. The concept store aims to educate and inspire consumers with a large array of premium wine and spirits sourced from around the globe. Best of all, as added extras customers are offered consultation and ordering services for selecting the perfect vintage or year. Daily tastings are also held to showcase various wine-growers and distillers.

Image source:

On a recent trip to a Dan Murphy’s Adelaide store, I also noticed plenty of small things they had done to enhance the retail offering. They may have been little, but they were a great addition to the experience.

Throughout the store there were gift bags, wooden gift boxes and greeting cards that could be purchased to finish off the perfect present. How’s that for convenience? I can grab a bottle of wine, gift wrap it, and pick up a card – all on my way to the party.

Nobody beats Dan Murphy’s!


Aesop was established in Melbourne in 1987, and the business is centred around two key factors – (1) creating products using the finest quality ingredients, and (2) store environments that encourage complete immersion into the brand.

The stores themselves are a unique retail experience – beautifully designed using inspiration from the region’s history and culture, and incorporating local materials to celebrate the community and locality. Products are displayed simply, in a way that facilitates discovery. ‘Try before you buy’ washing stations allow sales staff to guide you through the process of cleansing, and create tactility for the brand experience.

Aesop Nolita – New York City, New York

This small footprint store uses reclaimed copies of the New York Times as a building material. The store’s interior plays homage to the written word and heritage of NY as a pioneer in news reporting.

Aesop Bondi Beach – Sydney, Australia

This store captures the essence of the surrounding area using reclaimed and weathered wood mixed with a light, airy interior reminiscent of a beach house.

Aesop Le Marais – Paris, France

This store is a light, minimalist room of polished concrete featuring large windows that allow plenty of natural light inside. There are 427 small polished steel dishes built into the walls as an acknowledgement of the industrial history of Paris.

Images sourced:

The difference between good and great retailing is small. It’s that something special you offer to your customers that puts you ahead of the competition. This can be anything from a personalised birthday EDM to a rewarding loyalty programme. It might include interesting informational signage on products, or even the actual materials you use to construct your store. But you need that unique thing. A winning formula is to find out what your customers want, decide how you want to be different as a retailer, and then find a way to bring those things together. 

Surprise and delight them - even with the little things.

This was republished from Kerr's LinkedIn.

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