Want to Deliver a Compelling Brand Experience? Get Back to the Basics

Rob Gruen, EVP, Marketing and Business Development, Array MarketingThis morning I received via e-mail the latest article from Retail's Big Blog. Today's installment touched on the central topic of this blog, the importance for retailers of delivering an outstanding customer experience and the ways to do it. More specifically, it featured an interview to Rob Gruen, EVP for Marketing and Business Development at Array Marketing. Here are some important passages from that interview.

"While there is plenty of buzz surrounding the effect omnichannel retail is having on the industry, retail executives must remember to get ‘back to the basics’ when it comes to leveraging a memorable in-store experience. Retailers must ask themselves — Have we forsaken the basics of retail inside the four walls of our stores? Are we forgetting the impact of in store marketing and the need for a compelling brand experience?

A strong grasp on how consumers perceive your store is critical to success. In order to have brand integrity and consistency in the store and online, retailers should have their store managers do these things first:

Measure your store traffic - The old-school gauge for success is knowing how many people are coming through the front door. It’s important to determine if customers have a compelling reason to come in and shop, and if they understand the brand message you’re trying to convey in an appealing, easy-to-shop manner.

Take a look at your in-store conversion rates - A mainstay metric of online retail, conversion rates are still an important factor on Main Street. Don’t overlook the 4 P’s of Marketing – store layouts and store presentations are designed to maximize sales. Paired with the right product at the right price, customers will find a reason to come back and shop.

Look at the average transaction - Are there enough impulse items? – A recent study by OlilvyAction reported in RetailWire indicated that 29% of respondents made unplanned category purchases when going into a store. Retailers should not lose sight of the effect of eye-catching, point-of-purchase products as a way to drive sales and build transaction size.

Spend time in your stores watching and talking to the customers and store associates - Don’t just rely on reports coming across your desk. Watch how customers shop, what they are buying, and more importantly, what they are not buying.

The success story of Lululemon immediately comes to mind. I was impressed by comments in a recent article which said, ‘when it comes to making decisions, Lulu has gone back to basics. It doesn’t use focus groups, website visits or customer-relationship management software, which tracks purchases…Instead, Chief Executive Christine Day spends hours each week in Lulu stores observing how customers shop, listening to their complaints, and then using the feedback to tweak product and stores.’ I think this type of customer engagement is something all retailers can benefit from."

You can find the entire article and interview at this link. Mr. Gruen suggestions and advice to retailers are right on point and I have to agree with him that getting back to the basics is indeed a fundamental point.  Often flawless execution is forgotten, while it should be the cornerstone of any retail strategy.

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