Forbes retail forecast & DJ’s newbie are worlds apart

About 25 years ago, a Texan friend shared the advice passed onto her from a stylish Aunt who enjoyed a successful career in a service role. Her advice was simply ... "Darlin' put on some lipstick, smile and be nice".  Whilst retailing is a complex business in 2013 being nice is not a bad starting point for a service mantra. As such, I thought I would share a precis of this Forbes article and then some pics of the new David Jones store at Malvern Central.

Forbes: It's the Customer, Stupid!

A survey of stores and customers, conducted by TimeTrade (July 2013), gleaned insights from over 1,000 customers and 60 retailers including CVS, Neiman Marcus and Macy’s found that the key to winning in the retail game is to treat people well ie. ‘happy customers buy more' .

Customers surveyed said the number one thing missing from their shopping experience is the personal touch that in-store personnel offer (or could offer). 33% of customers want a more personalized experience; 30% want smarter, more helpful employees and 29% want faster customer service. 80% will abandon an in-store purchase if they have to wait more than five minutes for services like helping them find products, answering questions or checkout.

Of the retailers surveyed, 80% revealed that sales increase by 25 to 50% when customers are assisted by product experts. About 10% to 12% of shopping is conducted online and they expect this to continue. Mid-way through 2013 retailers reported that 83% of their sales took place in the physical store.  About 3% of their sales came from mobile phone purchases and expect that metric to almost triple in 2014.

TimeTrade does not forecast the end of retail, rather an upgrade to the shopping experience. In the future customers will be treated to service reminiscent of the Apple Store, with knowledgeable, attendant customer service reps and scheduling.

“If you’re a shopper and you’re going to (spend) the energy and effort to go to a store, you’re probably going to walk into that store and get that Genius Bar experience where they know you’re coming, they know you’re in the store, they’ve allocated someone to service your requests, they know all about you ... we have Retailers telling us that there will be retail locations that they create that only serve customers who have arranged to come in".  TimeTrade thinks that’s the way it will work in future.


David Jones - Malvern Central


Is it any wonder DJ's sales performance continues to plummet. Their newest, smaller format store at Malvern Central (ground floor - ex Target site) appears to be the same as any other store (cosmetics, apparel, accessories, homewares, childrens ware etc).  I did a quick walk through yesterday. Not a 'meet or greet' or "service pulse" could be detected. I spotted the usual suspects ... staff behind counters failing to engage with (potential) customers, not one of them spoke to me or made eye contact.

Wifi is the entry message. A desk with two computers can be found instore to look/buy on line (poorly executed at that)  ... really ... that's it for innovation? This 'lack of service' format will surely become a fossil in the future. Maybe the well-healed Malvern set will keep the DJ's dinosaur limping along for a bit longer? Who knows? What I do know is they should have read about my shoe experience at Lord & Taylor in NYC and be using technology on the floor to make the shopping experience a whole lot more convenient along with providing engaging experiences in store (couldn't find any of those either).  As a general rule I only report on positive and engaging retail finds and leave it to others to dish up disappointment. Soz about that.

As an aside note, AMP have done a rather nice job of the centre ambience upgrade.  #davidjones  #malverncentral  #amp  #podfinds

POD obsolete?

An article from Inside Retailing by Brian Walker (Retail Doctor Group) that I thought worth sharing with POD bods:

"The real DNA of a branded retail experience is increasingly less about having a different offer to your competitor. In fact, I am starting to realise that a traditional point of difference (POD) in a business sense is a reasonably static interpretation, with the only catalyst that creates momentum being innovation and reinvention. Many differentiated businesses in product range and even store experience have fallen by the way side. Why is that?

In today’s world of copy and replication, large retail environments of homogenous offerings claim their point of difference on brand, product, service, or location differentiation. But instead, what we have is a largely vanilla style of being different to our neighbouring retailer.

Two factors are emerging to ensure that not much remains of what was. Speed and impact are the crucibles upon which successful customer facing business is being built upon.

Firstly, speed or simply doing it faster than others – speed in brand impact, creating and innovating a product or service, faster internal processes, business information systems, initiation and response, delivery and communication, driving a faster customer experience with response and action in real time, and ruthlessly driving a faster ratio of productivity – faster to be trusted (an integral part of the commercial equation).

It’s interesting to see how many organisations value zero defects, and high internal and external speed to the point of measurement and reward. I wonder if online retailing has reinforced this aspect of speed for us.

Impact is an equally critical mandate for a retailer, or more precisely the effect or impression of one thing on another: the power of making a strong, immediate impression.

Consumers increasingly search for retailers based on a premise of speed to them in an intimate and direct way, coupled with an impact that invites them to be part of that retailer’s tribe. Being known for something, owning the space, creating impactful events from strategy to instore experiences, and having a culture of impact fuelled by speed and not constrained by management creates the genesis of a truly great fit retail business – think Zara, Apple, Virgin, Google, Facebook, Westfield, Walmart, Ikea, Tiffany & Co, Costco, and the list goes on. Sure, these brands have plenty of copies present and emerging, plenty of would be’s, but what really separates them from their competitors is not the traditional axis of differentiation, but rather the strands of speed and impact within their DNA."