COVID-19 has permanently changed the retail landscape. Being average, boring or unremarkable won’t cut it any more. Just look at the number of retail bankruptcies that occurred in the last year and that are expected to occur this year. They include stalwarts such as J.C. Penny, Nieman Marcus, Men’s Warehouse, Ann Taylor, J. Crew, GNC, Brooks Brothers and others.
Steve Dennis, author of Remarkable Retail: How to Win and Keep Customers in the Age of Digital Disruption claims that “physical retail isn’t dead. Boring retail is.” There are many brick and mortar operations, such as Walmart, Best Buy and Target that are exceeding expectations while online powerhouses such as Amazon, Warby Parker, and Peleton are opening brick and mortar stores.
Dennis believes that a showroom must demonstrate the following qualities to deliver extraordinary customer experiences.
Your showroom needs to be digitally enabled. Having a strong digital presence is not always a first customer option or a better option, but your onsite presence needs to augment and assist your clients to interact with your showroom. That’s why BKBG developed its 10 ebooks for Shareholders to use on their web sites.They help your customers to interact with your showroom by providing information that makes purchasing decisions easier and better informed.
The showroom experience needs to be human-centered. You and your team need to crawl inside the brains of your customers and look through their lenses. The experience must be intensely personal. When life returns to whatever a new normal looks like post COVID-19, there will be a renewed emphasis on humanity.
Your showroom needs to show up for the right customers, at the right time where it really matters in remarkable ways.
Make your showroom the fourth place, playing off of Starbuck’s “third place.” Dennis claims the first place is home, second is work, third is a community-gathering store, e.g. Starbucks, and the fourth place is a showroom that focuses on relationships and connecting customers to your unique brand.
Make your customer experiences memorable and remarkable by doing the unexpected that surprise and delight your clientele. Dennis explains that people buy the story before they purchase the product. What story do you want to tell that others want to repeat?
Additionally, be willing to take risks. The riskiest thing that you can do is not take risks.