demand, discounting, marketing, profit margin

The Price is Right or Is It?

notebook with dollar sign outline
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

With easy access to comparable prices frequently in one’s pocket, the sport of paying as little as possible for products has become all consuming.  Add to that the constant inundation of email with coupon discounts, direct mail with coupon discounts, sites dedicated to accumulating discount coupons (and tracking behavior) and there is a free for all on the selling floor, a real FOMO on the rock bottom price. The marketing tool box is centered around wrenching prices vs. building and reinforcing a brand.

While this was in full swing during the holiday season, retail businesses were reaching the finish line in that race to the bottom.  Stores simply packed up and disappeared between Christmas and New Years leaving gaping holes in malls throughout the US.  The disappearing continues.

You get what you pay for.  And you pay for what you value.  If your customer doesn’t want to pay enough for a product to keep a business viable, natural selection goes to work and the business is “Darwined” out of existence.   Produce something unique.  Tell a compelling story.  Do your homework and find your audience.  And make sure the price is right to produce a sustainable profit or don’t get into business.

https://gfycat.com/gifs/detail/assuredspottedcats

customer experience, data, logic

Spaghetti on the Wall

pasta with vegetable dish on gray plate beside tomato fruit on white table
Photo by Trang Doan on Pexels.com

How do you test to see if your pasta is done? Are you an advocate for throwing it against the wall until it sticks or do you prefer a more systematic approach to create a tasty dish?  Why don’t we start with a practice that we learned in grade school:

sci·en·tif·ic meth·od
noun
  1. a method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.
conversion, customer experience, data, ecommerce, four-wall, merchandising, omnichannel

What’s Up with Pop Ups?

1. What is a pop-up shop?

  • According to BigCommerce, a pop up shop is a temporary storefront space operated by an online merchant.
  • The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as : a store that opens suddenly and usually exist for a short amount of time: A temporary pop-up store often appears when retailers take advantage of empty retail space.
  • Shopify.com describes a “pop-up shop” as is a short-term, temporary retail event that is ‘here today, gone tomorrow”. Pop-up retail is the temporary use of physical space to create a long term, lasting impression with potential customers.

2. How does one impress potential customers with a pop-up shop?

A customer needs to make some connection with the location. To connect, there must be an experience. As a physical space with human guides, how does an online business make that three dimensional visit memorable when EQ comes into play?

We know that online businesses greatly value data, as do four wall businesses. Both measure conversion, average transaction value, units per transactions, bestselling merchandise, slow selling merchandise, etc, etc. Both have financial plans and staffing models as well as visual presentations. The skills required in getting the customer over the proverbial threshold, engaged with the product, and serviced to best fulfill their needs require eye contact and conversation in a physical space. As we develop in this omnichannel environment, the expertise of the physical environments needs to be valued to the same degree that the digital expertise is respected. Unless the goal of the pop-up shop is to serve as a glorified billboard with minimal exchange and engagement, it would behoove the online businesses to welcome some four wall experts into their midst when concepting and executing. Best practices in both channels will only enhance the total business with greatly improved customer experience.

customer-experience, marketing

Underwater Stick Waving

Lake Winnipesaukee cloaked in her early morning mists in Meredith, NH.

Who knows what is going on beneath the surface of a murky body of water? If we can’t see it, is it really happening? With so many moving parts in the business of retail’s multiple selling and marketing channels, how does one get the customer’s confidence? More is not more. It’s simply overwhelming. Multiple daily emails with different deals in different channels and mixed messages in social media can be mind numbing. Yes, we need to be available to the customer wherever the customer wants to be reached, but we need to do it with consistency, offering non conflicting deals and stories in all channels at the same time. Otherwise, that effort is frustrating or invisible to the customer and might as well be underwater stick waving.

customer-experience

The “Check Out”

antique banking blur business
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If we’re honest with ourselves, we know that we go to great expense to energize customers to interact with us every day. Rarely does one decide to browse through websites or visit a physical location without a desired outcome in mind. As the NRF points out in its path to purchase, the decision to purchase is vast and varied. https://nrf.com/resources/consumer-research-and-data/consumer-behavior/consumer-path-purchase. Direct mail, digital marketing, and content in any channel will pique interest in many products which may otherwise have limited views/attention.  Illustrating the why behind the what drives the impulse to purchase. Those inspired consumers will take immediate action, looking to place their order to acquire their desired “stuff”. Believing that once the impulsive customer arrives, they will be satisfied with an inefficient and unattractive process is naive. The time, energy and funds  spent to direct the customer may end up in the virtual or physical equivalent of a junk yard.   The customer simply leaves. It’s equivalent to a hunt for a sales associate, or being on hold with a phone call. Unless the order form is seamless customer experience, you have no sale. Simplify the process. Eliminate steps. Seal the deal with your customer by making it easy to say yes.

merchandising

Can an Algorithm Do This?

Creativity is key. Gotta have instinct!

Data+Instinct

Merriam Webster defines algorithm as:  a procedure for solving a mathematical problem (as of finding the greatest common divisor) in a finite number of steps that frequently involves repetition of an operation; broadly:  a step-by-step procedure for solving a problem or accomplishing some end especially by a computer.  ~a search algorithm.

Without the concept, who needs an algorithm.

“A procedure for solving a mathematical problem”.  That’s the challenge.  What are the elements of the mathematical problem?  That’s where instinct comes into play.   What price, what cost, is there seasonality, is there a life cycle?  On and on and on…  Where is the algorithm that determines that a consumer is looking for a chambray 3/4 sleeve tunic if there have been no like items in the assortment?  Merchandising instinct and marketing muscle.  Once the item is identified and exposed, the algorithm can go to town!  It’s a part of…

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customer-experience

The Human Touch

img_5934How important is face to face connection in the world of retail these days?  Based on recent sales floor experience, it’s clear that we are not yet ready for the Jetson life.  Below are the three most common reasons a customer crosses the threshold:

1. Return stations for online purchases. Customers don’t hesitate to order multiple sizes, and or multiple items to try on at home and return everything they decide against to a physical location. Their home is their private fitting room, and the local store is their reject rack. While there is some opportunity to flip this into a physical sale, it is typically a net negative sales transaction.  Do the store systems track the source of the returns?  If not, four wall performance is diminished by returns from another channel.

2.  Hungry for guidance.  Customers wander in looking slightly uncomfortable, standing in front of a merchandise presentation with a blank stare.  The relief they express when an informed and positive person gets them talking about why they have arrived, is palpable.  These interactions turn into a lot of fun.  Providing product knowledge and understanding the needs of a customer is key.   In these cases, price is not necessarily a primary decision driver.

3.  Specific hunt.  The shopper has an immediate need for an event or an emergency and don’t have time for a delivery.  Some shoppers are more than happy to make a less than perfect purchase because no one else in any other store had even approached them.

In the short time during which I have returned to the selling floor, the number of “thank you’s“ and “this was fun” heard from the customers in response to our shared experience has reinforced the prevailing discussion that the physical channel will continue to exist.  It’s up to each business to provide the experience worth visiting in every channel.  Happy, informed humans do help.

https://allpoetry.com/poem/8579885-The-Human-Touch-by-Spencer-Michael-Free