(Almost) Live from Reinventing the Store (Part 2)
When we last spoke, we were at the Retail Marketing Society (RMS) conference Reinventing the Store…
You will recall that your intrepid Medallion Retail explorers had just been wowed by the insights and advice (and food talk) of keynote speaker Bloomingdale’s CEO Tony Spring. But he did more than simply speak; he created an engaging experience for us. As did the retail experts and innovators who followed him to the podium.
They, too, offered insights on experience. While delivering an experience. It was all very meta.
So, the theme of the day was clear: pricing. OK. Sorry. It was all about experience. And what made this collection of presentations particularly engrossing were the different insights on shopper experience.
- Celebrated author and founder of Envirosell, Paco Underhill, took us on a virtual tour of malls around the world.
- Carmen Malvar, Store Design & Brand Commerce Consultant, Atelier Malvar & Tusch, shared design insights and new technology that create “brick and mortar razzle dazzle.”
- Pirch CEO Jeffrey Sears made a great case for lifestyle context marketing, and the importance of emotional connection.
- “Flexible technology with a personal touch” was the mantra of Emily Culp, SVP, eCommerce & Omnichannel Marketing, Rebecca Minkoff.
- Alexandra Adame, Co-owner of The Dressing Room, proved that community is powerful, and stores can be true destinations.
Their marketing universes are different. They work in different scales and within disparate cultures. Each face unique challenges. But whether the speaker described an upscale mall in Dubai or a funky clothing store/bar on New York’s Lower East Side, the advice was the same: create and deliver a meaningful experience for the shopper. How?
The customer is smart, and getting smarter. Always be considering the next phase of shopper interaction. And like shoppers, institutions change.
“No one talks about malls now,” said Underhill. “That’s a defunct term. They should be called ‘alls;’ a combination of retail, residential, hotel, even performance venue.”
Be a destination
Need a glass of wine? Go to The Dressing Room. Want to see a movie? Go to the Dressing Room. Need to find a perfect outfit? Go to The Dressing Room.
“We created a place for people to mingle and hang out,” said Adame. “We wanted to build a real community; a place we’d like to visit.”
At Pirch, exploring the intriguing (and experiential) baths and fully activated kitchens – complete with chef who offers advice and samples (food!) – becomes an afternoon’s entertainment.
Appeal to senses and memories and the “human-ness” that we all share.
“We don’t sell bathtubs at Pirch,” said Sears. “We offer 45 minutes of undisturbed sanity. That’s not a washer and dryer; they are caretakers of your child’s favorite blanket.”
Malvar spoke of technology that measures a shopper’s mood, and then chooses fitting music or soothing sounds. And movement-activated scent dispensers that trigger visceral memory.
“Create experiences that remind shoppers of fond memories and good feelings; they will then associate the brand with that emotion,” said Malvar.
Be a gracious host
More than once, the speakers referred to shoppers as “guests.”
“It’s a privilege to have them enter our store,” said Sears.
Rebecca Minkoff shoppers are greeted with water, tea or champagne; guests at Pirch are offered coffee. Sharing food and drink creates a connection.
“We want to thank them for coming in, and make them feel welcomed and appreciated,” said Culp.
Clearly, old-school hospitality is back in style.
Blend high-tech and high-touch
Technology is not an end unto itself. Shoppers are no longer dazzled by digital anything; it’s become a way of life. The key is to utilize technology at the right times and in the right ways, and make sure it works every time. At Rebecca Minkoff, the shopper can view the collection on an interactive wall mirror. She can pick items she likes, and they will be sent to a fitting room for her. In that dressing room, she can try on clothes under different light, to make sure she looks great regardless of environment. Finally, a stylist will come to her and check her out remotely. Or she can do none of this, and shop the old-fashioned way. The choice is hers, as it should be.