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Tag: customer engagement
As the shops get busier in the weeks before Christmas, the issue of queuing becomes more and more obvious.
Queuing is the bane of shopper’s lives and bad experiences can often result in aborted purchases, negative feelings towards a retailer and, sometimes, all-out rage! But how can you avoid these pitfalls?
Everybody has a general benchmark as to how long they think a queue will last. For example, you know that a queue at immigration will take forever; the bank will probably take a similar period of time and the post office could take much longer. On the shorter side of things, the cash-point should only take a few moments and the traffic lights will change any second – don’t even bother taking it out of gear. ]
But what happens when there is a deviation from the norm?
In simple terms, you feel good when you win and bad when you lose. This feeling is often amplified when compared against the progress (or lack thereof) of other queues at the checkout or as you exit an aircraft (not only is your queue not moving, the other queue is making remarkable progress). Similarly, beating that car in a traffic jam never fails to put a smile on your face.
Do you remember the last time you were in a packed pub, trying your best to reach over the bar and catch the barman’s attention? All you want is a couple of drinks and you don’t want to miss out on the banter back at the table. You eye up the opposition, make a mental note of your arrival time and, after much jostling, sharp elbows and dagger looks, you finally look the barman in the eye, get the nod and know you are next. At this point you relax a little, knowing you have claimed your place in the world. Even so, you are slightly on edge as you see your predecessor’s money disappear into the till, your neck is out like a giraffe and the barman looks up; only to turn the other way and deal with much later arriving member of the opposition – look at the smirk on their face! Feel the anger rise up inside of you. You feel cheated, wronged and have a distinct prejudice against both the barman and the sly queue jumper.
Do you want your customers to feel like this? I wouldn’t think so, but what can retailers do to keep the rage at bay? The answer is distraction.
M&S food make a wonderful job of it, bringing out your inner child with a dazzling array of sweet impulse buys (mini yum-yum anyone?) and in one fell swoop make you forget you are in a queue and you are at the checkout in no time (whilst making a significant contribution to profits).
But it’s not just impulse buys that beat the queuing blues. Performance works wonders as well; watching a florist create a stunning arrangement makes time fly by…
What were your best and worst queuing experiences?
Within the CADS drawing office we often receive requests for assistance on projects that take on a regular pattern of process, however every now and again a request comes in that breaks the mould.
Usually we use AutoCAD and similar software products at the design stage to help our clients create and develop new ideas and turn them into reality. Our clients use our services to identify the potentials of their ideas, whether it be how medical equipment will sit in a new room layout, or realistic visualisations to allow planners to grasp how a scheme could envelop a whole site and affect its surroundings.
The opposite was proposed in our most recent project with a company that had an existing physical product in the landscaping and grounds maintenance market place. Green Tech wanted their product to be digitised and turned into a set of AutoCAD drawings and digital 3d models.
The product itself could be taken to trade fairs and shown first hand, with promotional brochures featuring photos of the product in isolation, but to effectively demonstrate its’ capabilities, Green Tech needed to show how the product components actually fitted together. With complex ground preparation requirements, buyers also needed to know how the product would sit within the ground layering system.
Although the complex curves within the products meant that it was tough to take existing measurements, we produced a set of 2D plans and elevations which would allow the client to offer assembly instructions to their clients should they wish.
It also enabled us to produce the 3d models for the ground work visualisations, these would be instrumental for future promotions. Although for this project we were not typically involved at the initial design stages, it shows that with our flexible approach and services we can still be an integral part of any company’s growth, no matter where they sit within their development.
Delving into any kind of retail development process can be tricky, especially sorting just where you need to start. From small everyday products to full on retail development projects, they all have a feasibility process.
What is a “Feasibility” study?
Really the name does say it all, but we need to look a little closer to really understand what goes into a successful retail feasibility study. Carrying out this process will allow you to look at whether your “grand plan” is actually possible.
One of the most important points to look at, and a good basis for any retail feasibility study, is whether or not there is a need for your product or service to begin with. I mean, if a town already has four 100,000 sqft supermarkets, do they really need or want a fifth one?
Anything from the aspect of a new building to the colour of a label, needs careful consideration to make sure that they are the best for your purpose. Then, whether for a product, service, site, or your own special project, the possibilities can be explored and planned out in as many versions as necessary until the “ eureka” moment. That’s when you know that you have done all you can to eliminate what does not work, or is not possible, and you can feel confident that you have the best scenario with which to proceed.
Being well prepared is the key to success, so an investment of time and funds in retail feasibility can reap rewards when your project is a roaring success!
Julia & Andrew
Retail Planners – CADS Retail
There are many reasons that draw customers to a store. Obvious ones like a recognisable name, curiosity, desire, price, proximity, convenience and even hunger! An advertisement in the press or on television may have enticed them. Less obvious perhaps may be reasons like a brightly lit fascia, preference for a certain member of staff, or even the taste or quality of a particular product. An effective window display can also draw people in off the street, for example festive department store windows – like this Royal Wedding window display from Liberty in London – or promotional posters in a supermarket window.
Front of store design and presentation
A cluttered shop entrance may not be appealing to the eye (imagine a prestigious or flagship store with cardboard boxes and pallets in the foyer), yet in some retail environments, where pile-it-high, sell-it-cheap is still the mainstay, customers seem less perturbed (e.g. cash & carry).
Clear retail signage
It could be argued that in the latter scenario, customers are looking for clear, bold store signage, which points out the latest promotions and offers. However in the former environment, the customer may be looking for the habitual discreet signage, indicating department location. There are exceptions of course; perhaps a large food retail outlet would seek to promote offers from the front of the store. Since they possess ample square footage, well tended and strategically placed pallets and boards would not look like clutter in this retail environment.
Good customer service
Knowledgeable staff are a plus point in any retail environment. A member of staff who is familiar with products in their department is a key asset when making a sale. In a food retail environment, rapid, accurate and helpful service at the checkouts is invaluable, as is efficient customer service when a shopper has a problem.
Shop floor layout and planning
A well lit, laid out retail department with attractive visuals is very enticing to a customer who may traditionally “sleep-walk” through their regular shopping haunts. There are many fine examples; a poster showing the latest fashion or item to have; bold department signage to indicate where one section ends and another begins; a well laid out route through a department, with a few “escape routes” so that the customer can take detours at will.
Originally, upon walking through one particular retailer’s vision on the shop floor, the customer was led from department to department, thence to the “marketplace” and finally to the checkouts. After becoming used to this journey, customers began to want to take detours to departments of choice. The retailer responded by allowing the customer to start on their creative journey through the store, skipping through strategically placed gaps in the walls, which lead to other departments some several rooms away. The customer can also enter the store and quickly find the way to the marketplace to stock up on desired items, or just pop in for a cup of coffee.
Market research for your retail store
Staying in touch with customer shopping habits within your store(s) will give clues on how to improve their shopping experience. Perhaps a customer questionnaire or the use of mystery shoppers can help to shed some light on this area.
Most retailers create a loyal customer mailing using snail mail and email to communicate with their shoppers. The mailings often contain the latest offers, product related competitions and occasionally the chance to win money or an amount of product spend within the retailer’s store(s). This approach can also help gauge trends in your customers’ opinion, as well as provide an avenue to keep shoppers informed of changes within your store(s).
Retail promotional events
Do customers like to try new things? Invitations to try something new or different can lead the customer to buy something different in your store. Trying new approaches to catch the eye of the customer helps revitalise interest. Some retailers set up tasting sessions (food, wine), while others create promotional events (e.g. fashion shows, pre-sale open days for select customers, literary readings, live music, etc.). These events are often supported with a dedicated area on the shopfloor, this works to enhance the in-store experience, appealing to the senses of customers in your retail environment.
Once, while wondering along Oxford Street (London) one Christmas evening, I noticed that quite a few of the prominent fashion retailers were offering wine and snacks to the passing public. Some were also offering “goodie bags” to take away and discounts on purchases for the evening. Certain events were even ticketed, inviting loyal customers to enjoy extra benefits that evening. Needless to say, the street was a-buzz with people making their last-minute purchases, with many happy to take a break and enjoy one of these retail environments.
On another day, whilst perusing CDs at a large music retailer, a band began to play in the midst of the store. Customers swayed and lingered to enjoy the music. No doubt some probably bought more than originally intended. The music also drew people in off the street – very appropriate in this particular retail environment.
There are many other factors involved in attracting customers to your store, do you think it is worth the extra spend? Share your experiences with us…