Sheridan Orr

Archive for the ‘Self-Service’ Category

Meet Your New Gift Registry: Pintrest

In Customer Experience, Retail, Self-Service on July 11, 2012 at 10:21 am

Pintrest makes an excellent gift registry for all occasions.

I’m planning a party for my younger sister.  Usually, I flip through magazines or ask friends for ideas.  However, this time I went straight to Pintrest.

As I feverishly pinned for the party, I found so many cute things that I started an alternate board to collect things I wanted.  It isn’t that I’m super creative.  It was that almost every other person had a “Want it” or “Love it” board and I hate to be left out.

After I finished collecting ideas for my sister’s party, I went through the “Want It” boards of my friends.  I honestly felt like I had tapped into some sort of arcane knowledge about people I had known for years.

I now know Marnie’s favorite wine, Elizabeth’s preferred towels and geek gadgets that Eric covets.  No longer will I be anxious over what to take to a dinner party, house warming, or birthday bash.

Instead, I can go straight to my friend’s boards and see what they like.  In fact, I was so enamored with this discovery that I drag my husband away from the Cubs game to show him the “Want it” boards including mine.  We laughed about some of the bad gifts we’ve given each other and shared  a collective sigh of relief.

The Retailers Dilemma

While this is great for gift purchasers, retailers are left questioning how to capitalize on this trend.  No longer is it enough to just hand people a scanner and set them loose in the store.  Moreover, as your customers pin items to their boards, there is no guarantee their friends are going to know where it came from or buy it from you.

Traditionally, the gift registry was for weddings, babies and housewarmings.  Now people celebrate many and varied occasions.

Let’s faces it, you’d feel (and look) like a moron going to register for your Cinco de Mayo party.  However, now I know exactly what to get Margaret when she invites the entire family over to celebrate with her famous enchiladas.   What I don’t know is where to get those cute margarita glasses from her “Love it” board.

So how does a retailer capitalize on this trend?

Make sure that content you share has excellent photography and displays your brand in a subtle way.  Big ‘in your face’ branding typically doesn’t get shared as frequently.  However, by putting a subtle logo or link to the website in the coner you make it easier for the gift giver to say “ Anne wants this bread maker and I see you can get it at Buns in the Oven.”

Show products in creative ways especially if they are items that people can get anywhere.  One of the was to ensure that your branded picture is the one that gets pinned is by making it aesthetically interesting.

Share content frequently but don’t be seen as screaming like you are in the markets of Marrakesh.  Instead, have a conversation about trends or ideas.  Also use topics that are timely and relevant like  “Here’s how to beat the heat wave” and pin coolers, swimsuits, fans, etc.

Provide a tablet or kiosk in your store so that shoppers who are there looking for gifts for friends and family can find their boards on Pintrest.  It is hard to go through all of that content on a mobile phone.  This also helps bring the social experience into the bricks and mortar store.

Summary

Pintrest is an excellent tool for retailers to have conversations with customers.  It also makes it easier for friends and family find gifts for their loved ones that they actually want.  As a retailer, you need to ensure that your content and product pictures are interesting and sharable.   Also, don’t forget to brand every photo in a subtle way so that customers know where the items came from when perusing friend’s boards for gift ideas.

Four Hot Retail Trends Made Better by Customer Self-Service

In Customer Experience, Retail, Self-Service on June 11, 2012 at 8:01 am

Even iconic Liberty is setting up a temporary location to attract Olympic visitors

London is buzzing this summer.  People flocked to the city for the Diamond Jubilee. While it captivated the world’s attention, it was just a warm up for the Olympics.   As athletes and devoted fans from around the globe descend on the city, retails are getting prepared.  Therefore, you can see some of the hottest trends in retail on steroids.  Four in particular are made better by incorporating self-service or kiosks.  They are:

  • Pop Up Locations
  • Smaller Footprint Stores
  • Millenials
  • International Shoppers

 POP UP LOCATIONS

 London real estate was already at a premium.  However, the massive influx of people this summer has made that even more pronounced—especially in locations surrounding the Olympic venues.  Therefore, retailers are getting creative with pop-up locations.  Even Liberty, the famed British department store has taken a temporary space in an outdoor area on the main promenade where Olympic revelers will pass en route to the park.

Trendy retailer H&M is opening a sports-focused store that will feature active wear in Union Jack colors.  These stores will be open for ten weeks in Covent Garden and Westfield Stratford City.  It isn’t just London that is seeing this trend, H&M is opening a pop up location in Miami Beach this summer.

The value of pop ups is being recognized by other entities beyond retailers.  EBay created several pop up locations.  Wired Magazine erects an electronics pop up in New York at Christmas every year .  Even the Flaming Lips have puckered up to the pop up trend .

Retail expert, Brian Walker from The Retail Doctor told Smart Company, “Pop-up shops give you instant accessibility, instant wow factor if done well, and put you in environments that you might not be otherwise.” He continues,  “A pop-up shop is an extension of the brand and should be treated that way – so investment of capital is key.”

Pop ups allow retailers, websites, magazines and even bands to capitalize on compelling events and locations as well as keep their brand top of mind.  Because of their temporary nature and space constraints, pop ups typically have limited selection.  By introducing self-service, kiosks or tablets, pop ups could be nimble as well as offer a broader range of items.

These locations are ideal for endless aisle types of applications.  Moreover, shoppers heading to the Olympic park or to South Beach may not want to be burdened with parcels.  A kiosk would allow visitors to purchase from the extended offerings as well as have items delivered at their convenience.

 SMALLER FOOTPRINT STORES

 Even after the Olympics, London real estate will be at a premium.  For brands and retailers interested in a more permanent spot in highly desirable locations, the smaller footprint store has become a mainstay.  Over the past few years, giant retailers have responded to changing consumer behaviors and adopted a more focused approach. Smaller footprint stores are ideal for urban locations and create a more European shopping model where consumers visit the stores daily—which is ideal for brand engagement.

Target created stores that were almost half the size of their traditional stores (60,000 sqft vs 120,000) for their urban locations.  Walmart Express was born to allow the retail giant to fit into this new reality.  In addition, stores like Kohl’s and Office Depot are embracing this trend and getting away from the mega store to broaden their appeal.

Like pop up locations, these smaller footprint stores are unable to carry the full product portfolio. Not to mention, have you ever tried to wheel your newly purchased office chair through the streets of Seattle?

The limited space and the realities of urban living make these locations ideal for kiosks, which can expand product and delivery options.  In addition, these stores don’t have room for support staff.  Retailers could take advantage of hiring kiosks to off load many of the human resource tasks.  This would ensure that associates focused primarily on the customer.

 EMERGENCE OF MILLENIALS

 Millenials are not only the athletes in this year’s Olympics they are a large percentage of those who will be drawn to the games. In a previous blog, I wrote about how self-service and Millenials are an ideal match.

Millenials will outspend Baby Boomers by 2017; however, they also currently punch above their weight.  That means they spend more than their actual purchasing power.  In addition, they shop in an entirely different way than their parents—who they trust less than random people online.

To meet the demands of this generation, retailers need to ensure that reviews are easily accessible.  Kiosk or shelf level tablets would be ideal to help these informed consumers complete purchases.  Because they are wired all the time, they are great researches and users of technology.   You don’t want to put your associates in a position where a customer pulls out their phone to show them they are wrong about their own products or specials—which could instantly derail a purchase and mar your brand.

According to a RSR paper, The Retail Store in Transition, an uninformed associate is worse than no associate.  Moreover, most Millenials don’t even want to bother talking to an associate.  They’d rather interact with an avatar or something ‘less human’.

Retailers can appeal to this demographic by ensuring peer reviews are available through out the store, providing easy access to information in a visually appealing way and empowering associates with technology to further the conversation.

Self-service and kiosks are ideal for this.  However, be aware that this is the Apple Generation and it has to be sleek, elegant and modern.  Any boxy, clunky things that are not graphically appealing or don’t work on the first try will be quickly abandoned and Tweeted about, Facebooked and Pinned under #fail.

 INTERNATIONAL SHOPPERS

 When I was growing up, Italian food was considered exotic.  Now, even in my small suburban town, I can eat at 30 different ethnic style restaurants and encounter six different languages on any given day.  This diversity is changing the shopping landscape.  Every four years we are reminded of how diverse our world is with the Olympics.  Can you imagine being an associate at the H&M location in Covent Garden trying to articulate the merits of products to people from every country on the planet?

Self-service and kiosk can make life easier for both the associate and the shopper by providing information in multiple languages.  This trend isn’t just for retail, but healthcare, public spaces like airports and public transit as well as universities.  Providing information in multiple languages in a single location is simple with a kiosk whether it is products, services, frequently asked questions, timetables or way finding assistance.

SUMMARY

With summer heating up and the biggest shopping days ahead of us, retailers should consider how they are going to make these trends even better shopper experiences.  Self-service can make small spaces have big impact by expanding offerings.  It can help limited staff meet growing demand by offloading administrative tasks such as managing job applications.  In addition, it can bring the viral, social shopping experience into the store by incorporating reviews and rankings.  Finally, it can create a personalized experience no matter which language you speak.

Sources:

http://www.theretailbulletin.com/news/hm_sports_to_launch_london_popups_05-06-12/

http://www.smartcompany.com.au/retail/050090-the-three-retail-models-changing-the-way-consumers-shop/2-2.html

http://thenextweb.com/uk/2012/05/25/samsung-is-introducing-pop-up-stores-in-london-for-a-slice-of-that-olympic-money/

http://www.sas.com/news/sascom/2012q1/industry_spotlight.html

http://www.retailgazette.co.uk/articles/03202-hm-launches-sports-range-with-two-popup-shops

http://www.businessinsider.com/17-most-creative-pop-up-stores#horned-creatures-served-as-mannequins-among-fake-shrubbery-9

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