What are common customer frustrations with the in-store experience?
2012 is going to be the year of the ecosystem, according to CNET's annual "The Next Big Thing" presentation at CES 2012 (as reported yesterday by Wireless Week's Andrew Berg). And by "ecosystem," we mean: hardware, content, apps, operating system and connectivity, Berg explains.
I think we are most interested in the idea of shopping as a new kind of public space. How can we enrich these experiences? Can we bring new content, information, ideas and visual experiences to shopping in a thoughtful and dynamic way?
I believe the above quote, from New York City-based design studio 2x4 Inc., defines the direction in which new types of physical retail locations must go.
The entire retail industry has already experienced a tectonic shift due to e-commerce, mobile apps and social networking. Brick-and-mortar retailers, cognizant of the increased competition from virtual retail, must undergo a similar transformation, but of a different nature.
More and more customers come to stores, check out a product, and then place the order. Unfortunately, the order is often placed via smartphone, with a different online retailer than the store the customer visited, at a lower price (see Amazon Price Check App). How can retailers compete with that? What else can a retailer offer to a customer, that is different from a massive warehouse or an e-commerce site?
The answer is in redefining the purpose and philosophy of a store. At the most recent iQmetrix Wireless Summit, Doug Stephens offered his view of the 21st Century retail location, whose role shifts from being the end of the marketing/distribution channel to becoming the start of the channel.
The days when the physical store was the sole transactional point-of-sale are behind us. Today, the focus is on customer experience: creating excitement and inspiration, invoking social engagement, offering a relaxing experience through the use of design elements in the space, and providing interactive tools, personal communication devices and friendly staff. These spaces not only build a loyal customer base, but loyal and motivated employees as well.
For most stores, moving from a transaction mind-set -- “how do we sell more stuff?” -- to a value-creation mind-set will require a complete overhaul.Ron Johnson, J.C. Penney CEO and former senior VP of retail at Apple
High-tech device manufacturers are indicative of the customer experience trend -- they have increased their physical store presence in spite of having the necessary distribution channels for their products. The Apple Store, ranked #1 in customer service since it opened, leads the way. Microsoft has followed suit (see photo below), and other hardware manufacturers have too, but so have purely online retailers like eBay or Amazon.
Google recently opened its first Chrome Zone store in London and another big Androidland store in Sydney (with carrier Telstra). Online retailers are starting to realize that meeting customers face-to-face -- and offering a unique experience and relationship in addition to effective shopping -- is crucial to developing brand awareness.
The next four articles of this series will examine the underlying principles of creating a successful retail place. This is not referring to aesthetic design, but rather to conceptual, functional and organizational aspects. These articles will focus on physical locations, the in-store part of the retail process. Of course, in-store cannot be analyzed without out-of-store and online parts, so the latter two will be dealt with in the context of a specific topic.
First, we'll take a look at the qualities that turn a physical space into a public place. Next, we'll examine the guiding principles to creating a place, and what are the specifics of a retail place. Last but not least, we will analyze the tools and summarize the checkpoints that can help retailers to create the next generation of retail places.
Once retailers are brave enough to let go of the idea that their stores are solely places of transaction, they can focus on giving customers a rewarding experience. FITCH
Next: Part 2 of 5 - Qualities of Successful Public Places
Part 3 of 5 - Guiding Principles of Place Design
Part 4 of 5 - The Basic Areas of the Retail Environment
Part 5 of 5 - 5 Checkpoints for Next-Gen Wireless Retail Places
Ten to 15 years ago, the big-box retailer was all the rage. Monolithic superstores like Costco, Sam's Club, Home Depot and Best Buy were popping up in suburbs across North America. They quickly signaled the demise of thousands of small businesses -- mom and pop grocery stores, hardware stores, electronics dealers, etc. -- and changed the way people like you and me shopped for everyday items.
http://www.iqmetrix.com/products/rq/salesIn a RetailWire.com article yesterday, David Dorf, Director of Technology Strategy for Oracle Retail, identified four trends he expects to develop in the coming year.
Zeynep Ton, who teaches Operations Management at MIT, wrote a column a couple weeks ago for the Harvard Business Review, encouraging retailers to invest in their employees.
Larry Downes of Forbes wrote a damning article yesterday predicting the eventual demise of retail electronics giant Best Buy.
Film critic Roger Ebert wrote an interesting article a couple days ago (Dec. 28) about "Why movie revenue is dropping..." The article sheds some light on the effect that online streaming services like Netflix have had on consumers' tendency to watch movies at the theater.
"2011 wasn't just the year of mobile. It was the year mobile took over the world," says The Mobile Future, in its 2011 Mobile Year in Review video (below):
Retail technology is a hot topic this holiday season, with the collision of online, mobile and in-store retail, not to mention the increased use of apps and social commerce as well.
Right now, everybody seems to be talking about virtual/online retail moving into physical stores.