3 keys to dialling up excellent store merchandising.
In the late 1980’s, Jim Fleming, the owner of Jewel Food Stores, opened a branch in Mt. Druitt, NSW that incorporated an attached petrol station. Customers spending a certain amount in-store were entitled to a “cents per litre” discount at the petrol station. This innovation was the first of its kind for a retailer in Australia. Fast forward to today where it's unimaginable that the big giants like Coles and Woolworths wouldn’t offer a fuel discount with purchases from their stores.
That's just an example of how independent food and beverage retailers have been the incubator of customer experiences.
Unfortunately, a lot of retailers have the mindset that the customer experience is solely based on full shelves in the grocery section that are all faced up like tiny tin soldiers, but it's actually about the human experience. Consumers have an expectation about pricing, appealing store environment and engagement of the senses. Focussing on these aspects is what turns customers into fans.
Have you ever heard of the VAK?s
V stands for our visual senses:
A foodie’s paradise or the discount king? Consider Aldi Supermarkets, we are in no doubt that they are communicating the cheapest prices - the store is not fully lit, and stock is often on pallets. Aldi stores at every visual level are communicating “we are cheap, don’t expect service”.
A stands for audio:
K stands for kinaesthetic:
We all perceive differently, and a lot of businesses fail to appreciate these three ways that we like to receive our information.
Have you ever been shopping at fashion retailer Tommy Bahama? It is one of my favourite examples of what to do right and so much can be learnt from this retailer.
All three of the VAC sensors are present in-store and work so well. For example, if you went to buy a shirt, the layout of the store funnels you to move through the whole premises and therefore experience hats, shoes and accessories on your way to the shirts.
Once there, you are surrounded by the belts, shorts, and hats that perfectly match the shirt you're looking to buy. Tommy Bahama has simplified the process of colour coding and presents an image to you by engaging all of the VAK principles, therefore building the desire in you to swap your cash (or card) for an image and a feeling.
In a competitive industry like food and beverage, price is important, however, it isn't everything. The last interaction with your business is what customers will remember much longer than the price. I'm sure you can remember hearing your family and friends tell you about a fantastic customer service experience they had.
Now let’s fast forward to when it's time to sell your business. If you've created something unique, the business is a lot more saleable and a lot more desirable.
We should look outside of the food and beverage industry for what's going on. If a Tommy Bahama business was ever for sale, it would command a premium price compared to your main street men's and women's retailer that has been doing business the same way for the last 30 years.
Ultimately retailing will lose to online shopping if we don't work on our customer experience. With online shopping, the customers’ expectations are more based on ease of transaction, price and delivery. The challenge is to meet your customer’s needs in which ever format they choose.
Chris Mackey is a retail veteran with more than forty years’ experience in senior management roles for a variety of Australia’s leading businesses. His experience includes National Marketing and Promotion Manager for a top 50 ASX company; General Manager of Campbell’s Cash and Carry; launching the IGA supermarket brand in Australia; and extensive international business operations training. He now shares his wealth of knowledge to empower others to succeed running their own businesses. As an Action business coach, he helps individuals recognise the value of their unique skills and to find creative solutions to their business challenges.
For a copy off his latest book click this link