Friday, January 14, 2011

The Retailer Opportunity to Surprise and Delight

I received an iPhone this Christmas from my wife.  It was a wonderful gift. I really wanted it.  So much so, that I had already researched it online, compared all the other phones available, including prices, features and data plans.  So when I went in to get it (with my wife), the discussion went like this: “Can I help you?” asked the assistant.  “Yes” I said.  “I would like to purchase the iPhone 4”.  “Ok – do you have any questions” he asked.  “Not really, do you have any fun cases?”  “Over there”, he said.  He put the new phone on my existing plan and I left.  Actually my wife bought it for me, and I naturally gave her a big kiss and we both went on our way shopping for the kids. 

Ok, so there are no Jingle Bells in that Christmas story, but there is an implication. 

Shoppers are reaching a point where they have more information, and know more about products, than sales associates do. 
  1. Shoppers have online access to in-depth product information from manufacturers and comparisons across products from industry experts.
  2. Shoppers have access to all competitor pricing on their mobile phone in seconds.  If they have not checked the price before getting to the store, they can scan the UPC and check competitive prices immediately.
  3. Technology is now being tested to allow shoppers to see if a product is stocked at your targeted retailer or where the product is stocked.
shopping bagsOnline information will replace the assistance most retailers are equipped to provide.    Certainly some shoppers will want to be helped along the shopping process.  But the trend is moving strongly in that direction.  Smaller, independent retailers won’t survive long if they try to compete with mega stores that look more like a warehouse with a cash register.

NRF's Store Magazine has a great article on some of the ways that retailers can surprise and delight.  Some of the core themes:  Get online and become a player in the social media world, enabling mobile technology and Facebook to help break out of the pack.  Put the power of QSR codes into the store, allowing shoppers to find interesting video and product explanations.  In other words, participate --  don’t ignore the online world and the control that consumers now have over the content and selection.  Secondly, allow consumers to participate in product selections and give them exciting and surprising new ways to have a say in what their experience will be in that store.

Surprise and Delight and human experience.  While the traditional information tools that in-store assistance used to provide may be moving online, the ability to “surprise” and “delight” in a human way stay squarely with the retailer.

1 comment:

Alan Michaels said...

Well said.... even the store clerks access their inventory online rather than go to the back of the store.

Especially if the snow is falling.... why leave the house to shop?