We've all heard the doom and gloom stories about the Internet killing retail stores.
We heard similar cries that it would destroy the movie industry.
We also heard the Internet would kill retail bank branches.
Just as those last two predictions are wrong, so is the first.
Retail shops 'can' survive with the internet.
Shoppers don't want to window shop anymore, they want to buy as efficiently as possible.
I recently had to buy some work shoes, so I went during lunchtime while ordering my Sushi. I walked in the store, surveyed the displays, found a pair I liked, got asked for assistance, tried some different sizes, chatted with the assistant and bought a pair. The whole process took 10 minutes. Over the Internet I couldn't get close to that level of service and experimentation although I might get a slightly cheaper price.
Humans are tactile creatures who also crave social interaction. This is not always the case, but mostly the case.
So why are store retailers missing the mark?
They need to do a lot of things:
- Be clear about the role of the store. Is it a showcase, or a place to buy? Is it a destination shop or a practical shop?
- Be clear about the type of shopper you expect. Build an avatar of some typical customers. What do the typical customers look like? Male. Female? With kids? In their lunch break? Rich or poor? How do they shop? How would they like to be served?
- Build up on the staff knowledge. Knowledge and engagement are powerful sales weapons.
- Give staff the latitude and confidence to talk to customers using their knowledge.
- Suggest a product.
- Close the sale.
- Make it easy.
Engagement is not enough, nor is a discount, nor is a fancy display. Just make it easy. Although the 'easy' is difficult to implement, it's the rewards are large.