Reimagining the store
By Surender Gnanaolivu | January 22, 2018
Retail Brands are having to reboot their store experience strategies to deliver the needs of the new age evolved customer who is informed and is simultaneously shopping across channels. With brand loyalty being a passé, the brand is having to present its proposition smartly at its store front and interiors with utmost clarity and comprehensiveness.
With the ‘shop’ no more being contained in the four walls of brick and mortar, techniques used to attract, entice and convert customers are a combination of science and techniques used in both online and the offline stores. The customer’s top expectations are the 4Ts in the Offline and the 4Cs in the online. With the consumer preferring to use both channels, the new-age physical store is clearly at the intersection of both channels. On one side the brand needs to very precisely introduce WHAT it stands for and WHY the customer needs to walk into the brand environment. On the other the brand needs to INSPIRE the customer to IMMERSE in the brand’s world and be willing go get intimate with the brand in a personalized CRM program.
The Store designer, Planner, Marketers and Visual Merchandisers are ensuring that the 4Ts and 4Cs are integrated into the reimagined role of the store, the 4Is, using different disciplines of design and technology.
INTRODUCTION …… of the Brand Home Page:
Typically, a ‘Homepage’ introduces the brand by creating the first impression and helps visitors make a quick decision on whether to enter the site. Key purpose of the Homepage is to Attract new visitors, to educate them about the brand and inspire them to enter into the site. The new age consumer who is omnichannel in shopping attitude expects the same experience in physical spaces also. The store front, like a home page, needs to play a similar role in the physical space using the skills of Architecture, Display, Communication and Technology. Today, a mere architectural effort would fall short of the ‘least credible info’ that a new age customer needs to be delivered to show interest in the brand and its offerings.
INSPIRATION …… through creative design: ‘Inspiration’ is the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something. Creativity is used to inspire customers to transform transactional shopping missions into experiential journeys.
In the past consumers only cared about price and functionality of products but today consumers are looking to connect with brand stories that inspires then and appeals to their inner self emotionally. Humans are wired to be driven by emotions, despite being rational in many decisions they seemingly make when shopping. Getting this connect right help create a special magical bond between the brand and the consumer. Inspiring people is about evoking a positive feeling which would result in a positive and loyal experience with the brand. Design plays a very critical role in creating inspirational stories from brands using architecture and visual arts in retail environments.
IMMERSION …… in the brand world: Brand immersion is the act of integrating your brand into your customer’s need for emotional touch and sense of belongingness. The personal experience is more effective when made meaningful on their own terms. To create successful brand immersion strategies, one needs to have a closeup understanding of the brand ethos, its customers’ psychographics and how they want to lead them to behave in the store. Relevant content created from this understanding is the key ingredient to create brand immersion by stimulating the customer inside the brand environment. Immersion is also a two-way interaction with the brand with the customer engaging with on their own terms. This helps build great trust and belief in the brand leading to brand loyalty and brand ambassadors.
INTIMACY …… with the Customer: Brands have gathered data from every touch point and analysed it to generate valuable insights that they use to understand consumers and get closer to them. This has helped strengthen customer relationship and impacted profitability. The key requirement for this are data driven tools equipped with AI and ML that predict consumer preferences and likely behaviour to delivery very personalized engagement opportunities during the journey with the brand. This allows the brand to ‘remember’ key data of the customer so the familiarity helps make engagements much more meaningful and easy. Online retailers do this as a key process in their retailing process.
Surender has an experience of over two decades in the Indian retail industry in Retail Strategy, Store Design, Planning & Development, Retail Marketing, Visual Merchandising, Roll-out management, Retail Audits, Training, Teaching and Writing. His career encompasses holding of senior positions as Executive Vice President & Head Marketing, Brand Experience, Store design, planning & Development at leading retailers like Shoppers Stop, Reliance Retail and Mahindra Retail and also as a senior retail consultant working with leading retailers and brands in India. He is currently a Sr Retail Experience Consultant.
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