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It’s Official – Retail Is In Recession

This week the National Bank announced that the retail sector was in recession. Retailers have excess stock for the current season as they prepare for the upcoming season stock requirements.

I have been saying for years that the retail sector is a mess and whilst there are many factors that have contributed to the current situation I can’t help but think that retail lost its way when they stopped focusing on the customer experience.  Only recently was I at a major Westfield shopping centre on a Thursday evening and I commented on how dead it was.

So what do I mean by a customer experience?

  1. Their Image – Apple stores, whilst similar, are great looking stores. They are clean and their product is there for everyone to play with and get a feel for. Not only that their staff, whilst casual to align with their brand, are all in the uniform t.shirt. There is no guessing who I need to chat to when I walk into an Apple Store. Many retailers allow their staff to wear some of the most inappropriate clothing and for that matter footwear. I appreciate that being trendy for some stores is important but the message it communicates should be questioned as you are dealing with human beings who make a judgement on your store and its staff within 15 seconds.

  2. Their communication – Apple staff have been trained, I think, to communicate extremely well. In fact, I believe, they have been taught to respond positively no matter what the circumstances. If a customer asks for something they can’t do they don’t respond with ‘no sorry we can’t do that”, they respond with “we would love to do that for you however Apple does not provide that service at this stage”. A simple yet very effective technique. My experience of late is the lack of communication capability in other retail stores. People ae not thinking about what they are saying before they say it. They are not realising the effect of what they say has on the experience they are providing for the customer.

  3. Their attitude – walk into an Apple Store and almost every staff member wants to be there. They love what they sell but they love sharing their knowledge about Apple products with people. They don’t treat you like an idiot when you ask that crazy question – they truly want you to enjoy the Apple product. I wish this was not the case but the lack of enthusiasm in retail, the standing behind the counter mentality, the sense that the customer is a hindrance has contributed to the state of the retail sector. Retailers need to train and challenge their staff to provide an amazing Customer experience. If it’s not amazing they will just shop online as there is no reason not to.

I guess the best example is Apple in this sector and here are 3 ways they provide a better experience than most retailers.

Retail is a Human Interaction that can be harnessed, enjoyed and make a difference. Online shopping has had an impact on retail, there is no doubt, but the clever retailers have an online presence, that attracts people to their store. It’s this human interaction that is where you have the opportunity to knock their socks off. Is it too late? I hope not. Contact us to find out how we can help you develop a customer experience that customers rave about. [email protected] or 02 8279 6955

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