Dear Retail – Your Sales Just Aren’t Enough

And I don’t mean – increase the percentage off or give me more for less…I mean as consumers, we aren’t duped by the term SALE anymore. Some major retailers have had 30% off footwear for months now but every time they advertise they make it sound like a bigger and better sale than the one that came before. We won’t be duped I hear consumers cry! Translation – we’re not idiots so stop treating us like idiots!

So let’s talk about the Retail Experience. I don’t mean the internet retail experience and I don’t want to talk about the damage that online is doing to stores. For the record, I am no fan of closing stores in favour of internet retail. In my book all that’s going to do is make for less social contact, less part time work for students (interpret as how on earth will they develop a good work ethic) and the flow on from all that is still unknown – really. I want to talk about Bricks and Mortar retail.

Walk into a shopping centre. Talk about same old same old. Oh they have been renovated, expanded, updated, onlined…but fundamentally what has really changed? Walk into a Westfield or a GPT centre and you see the same brands in the same shops and only sometimes do they have a different shell. I was completely dumfounded/gobsmacked/horrified, when at the International Airport in Sydney I found myself confronted with the SAME STORES. Had I been beamed up to Westfield or GPT? Was this a nightmare? Where were the niche, quality, artistic, UNIQUE stores I had fantasised about?

Thank goodness for little centres in little suburbs – at least they offer consumers that “something different”! Unfortunately many of the operators are having to close the doors because they can’t compete and they’re not being supported.

I am tired – tired of having my senses offended by the over stimulation provided by too much product in a small space – make that too much of the SAME product in a small space. It might work in Singapore, where there are endless malls, with endless shops, with endless product but it doesn’t do it for me. I know – all you true shopaholics are now gasping and in a state of shock – but this is my rant and you are free to comment!

Renew Newcastle (thanks Marcus, Marnie, Siobhan and others) are an example of how innovative ideas can create and revitalise a retail experience. Renew Newcastle supports and encourages niche stores with niche, quality, handmade, artistic local product. Renew Australia is already active…

Another change in retail is becoming evident with the focus returning (brace yourselves) to where it should be – back to the customer, read customer service and customer experience. I caught a glimpse of an Are You Being Served rerun on free to air TV(my children love it) the other day and it was remarkable. What goes around certainly does come around! Full circle back to customer service. I mentioned to someone on the counter at a major supermarket outlet that I had had trouble with a product and she informed me that part of the new training was to make it up to customers when they weren’t happy.  She replaced my product! Dumbfounded/gobsmacked and pleasantly surprised this time! I remember when you had to have a receipt, a signed affidavit and a witness to get a replacement, and you had to be extremely brave, prepped and well prepared to venture in for a refund…

Westfield and Sportsgirl are all about adding to the customer experience. Walk into their domains and you are likely to find a stylist who will help you put it all together. Clever and effective. Apple have been all about the customer experience for quite some time, from greeting you at the door to ensuring that you can close a purchase from anywhere in the store and not just at a point of sale register.

In store innovations are being implemented all over the world. Theatre, sound, new technology, digital media and the integration of sustainable retailing are being used to improve or simply change the customer experience. If you want to read more try this article

or simply google innovations in retail. You can only wonder what’s next…

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