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Testing the waters of experience

  • Opinion
  • January 31, 2019
  • Juanita Neville-Te Rito
Testing the waters of experience

Kiwi retailers are now fighting harder than ever to connect with customers.

In an ecosystem that is proliferated with international brands who have deep pockets and shoppers who can self-navigate their experience whenever they like, it’s tough out there for Kiwi retailers. Investing in in-store experiences and customer service can help attract, retail and engage shoppers into your brand and store.

I have recently returned from a two-week vacation with the family in Bali. In a world, where if it isn’t on Instagram it didn’t happen, the retail sector here has embraced “experiences”.

Practically, how can you embark on your journey of delivering retail experiences? Perhaps your first step will be an experiment / test case / trial concept. These are the things you need to do.

1. Apply a lean, start-up methodology

Make sure your objectives and goals are aligned with your business objectives and then break it down. Schedule milestones, deadlines and invite your team to share results. Feedback and ideas will help make the concept stronger and more engaging and commercial.

2. Focus on the customer

Be sure to design your concept with the customer at the heart of your planning. Create events specifically with your customers in mind. Use your customer data to glean insights into their preferences, likes and dislikes and tailor experiences to meet your key demographics.

3. Leverage the experience across all channels

To get the most out of the experiment, don’t just focus on the in-store experience. Don’t exclude potential customers from an experience just because they can’t make it to the store. Remember digital and physical experiences are co-dependent – often a customer will learn of the concept through a digital search and are merely a click away from engaging.

4. Retail’s human proposition: it’s all about your people

For an industry that should be all about customer service magic, retail needs to do a better job to get employees to fall in love with it. The industry has a training, investment and morale problem. It should begin by bringing back the right type of talent. It should cast a wider, more creative net with a focus on people that get culture, lifestyle, fashion and all the pieces that make engagement with the brand and product sales stronger.

5. Elevate customer service

Retailers both physical and digital, need to dial up the human touch to deliver better experiences. Our new retail normal requires experiences that empower our teams with better systems and conversations to give more space to human interactions, with technology as the informed facilitator. Rethink the shopfloor to be more of a lounge and community; places where consumers feel naturally comfortable to connect and explore.

6. Make experiential retail entrepreneurial

Retail is one of the industries most challenged by disruptive entrepreneurs. This is because it is riddled with mediocre offerings and old-fashion traditionalists unable to know how to change. This creates many opportunities for others to get it right. Leverage entrepreneurial spirit to create new ventures and out-of-the box opportunities.

7. Tangible-ise

For your business to thrive at selling to people, it should work on understanding and connecting with people better than anyone else. Really? This concept might not seem very novel, but the current state of our industry serves as a stark reminder of how badly we perform at this.


8. Make it personal

In an industry that has had such disruption and angst, finding all the ways in which you can be as insanely relevant as possible is critical. AI technology is largely helping in this domain with better information on both the store level as well as individual shopping behavior. But there is still an opportunity to make products, messaging and engagement more personal.

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