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Ask not what your customers can do for you. Ask what you can do for your customers.
Urban Outfitters answered that question for itself in early November, when it announced it will buy The Vetri Family, a group of nationally renowned Italian restaurants. If the deal proceeds as planned, every Urban Outfitters store will feature a Pizzeria Ventri by year’s end. The company is counting on its new gourmet pizza offering to entice more shoppers to visit and give hungry shoppers a reason to stay.
This is just the latest example of the retail industry’s move toward experience retailing: combining in-store shopping with offerings and events designed to entertain, engage, enlighten, and build a community of brand loyalists.
- Crew does it with Style Sessions.
- Whole Foods does it with healthy eating workshops and its very own microbrewery.
- Williams-Sonoma does it with culinary classes.
- Barnes & Noble does it with children’s story times and its recently debuted Mini Maker Faire.
These leading retailers venture far beyond coupons and promotions to increase foot traffic and basket sizes. By adding value and connecting with customers in new ways, they’re bringing their brand promises to life.
Here’s why they repeatedly succeed.
They Push Boundaries Wisely
When it comes to taking chances and launching new initiatives, best-selling author and business consultant Jim Collins says it best: “Shoot bullets before cannonballs.”
Successful retailers live by this mantra. They introduce small, incremental changes and measure the results. If consumers respond well, these brands know they’ve zeroed in on the right target. And they’re confident and ready to make big leaps forward.
So how do industry leaders know where to aim their fire? You can bet they’re not taking random shots. Nor are they relying on assumptions. They know exactly who their customers are, what makes them tick, and how they’re evolving over time.
They Get Their Customers on a Very Deep Level
Just as every brand is unique, every customer base is unique. In-store programs that work for one brand’s customers may miss the mark elsewhere—even within the same retail space.
To create shopping experiences that resonate, leading retailers actively listen to their customers. They work to understand their customers inside and out: how they shop, how they feel, what they want, and what they expect.
Retailers do this by:
- Mapping the customer journey to understand how customers arrive at purchase decisions and to identify gaps and opportunities along the way
- Using customer satisfaction surveys to get a reading on customers’ feelings and impressions and to solicit recommendations
- Using customer intercepts to engage customers face to face and get simple, immediate, direct answers about purchase decisions and the shopping experience
- Deploying undercover mystery shoppers to pinpoint problems or irregularities that impact the customer experience but likely escape customers’ conscious awareness
- Using social listening to monitor their brand image and tailor product and service innovations by market or region
These research methods work together to flesh out customer personas and capture the in-store reality. Retail giants know how to interpret the data they collect. And they commit to acting on it to continually improve the customer experience.
Are you ready to think outside the retail box and bring your brand promise to life? It’s a question every retailer must ask in this new competitive era. To succeed, you need to dig deep. Start conversing with your customers. And keep the conversation going.
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This article was originally posted to our blog where you can find more posts like this at ICC/Decision Services Blog.