Old habits are hard to break. But retailers are at a crossroads and the direction they decide to take in the next couple of years will be their make or break.
Reinventing the physical retail environment is nothing new, but for some reason, retailers in Australia are still hesitant.
Although the causes may be multiple and varied from one business to another, what seems to keep most brick-and-mortar retailers awake at night is the rise of e-commerce. Our European and American counterparts however, seem to have risen to the challenge – and it’s working!
Cult activewear brand Lululemon’s success and growth is a good example of the critical nature of customer experience (CX) in retail.
One of the brand’s secrets is that they don’t just sell product. They have created an incredibly engaging experience for their community, addressing not only their practical needs, but their deeper pain points and underlying motivations.
You can see how Lululemon nurtures the community spirit in their stores by featuring a Wall of Goals from Lululemon members, or by regularly updating customers with information on hikes, yoga studios and other outdoor activities in the local area. In fact, most stores even host a free yoga class once a week.
Creating an environment where people don’t feel they are just being “sold to” is also expressed in things like Lululemon employees having staff bios that include their hobbies. This allows customers to get to know the person serving them a bit better, by relating to them and engaging with them on a more emotional level.
As an extension of this “personal touch” approach, Lululemon staff write the customer’s name on a white board and clips it on their change room door to remember it when handing over items.
These kinds of activations make the store environment a place where engagement and conversation matter as much as sales. By providing shoppers with inspiration and that feeling of being part of the Lululemon community, their customers become their strongest advocates. In terms of retail performance, these activities drive higher store visit frequencies and dwell time, lower customer churn, higher referral rates – all of which directly impacts the bottom line.
As a more local example of future-facing retail, Swedish Stationary house kikki.K recently launched their world-first concept store at Chadstone Shopping Centre in Melbourne. The kikki.K Studio draws on the brand’s strong Swedish heritage and design philosophy.
Workshop tables are activated seasonally to encourage customer engagement; beautifully crafted mood boards showcase how and why kikki.K’s iconic products were created; styled workspace nooks and finer details show customers how kikki.K can seamlessly fit into their stylish lives.
These retailers have embraced the rise of new technologies and taken the opportunity to rethink, redefine and redesign the traditional store experience. One that is better aligned with what customers want, and what technology enables.