Retail is evolving, and a new generation of consumers is emerging. A brand can no longer rely on its name alone. People want to know what a brand stands for, what its values are, and its purpose. However Public Relations and Marketing can only do so much. It’s the employees who provide a memorable experience and convey a brand’s message.
This isn’t a one-way relationship with the customer. The best associates are the ones that are passionate about products and the relationships they form. They are proud of what the brand stands for. This is often a missed trick and brands don’t spend enough time empowering their own associates to be brand influencers. E-commerce is growing, and many are investing heavily in connected digital experiences, but it is still not comparable to the in-store experience. We need to bring the store experience online.
Positive Experience Makes the Memory
I still remember the help that I have received in some of my past shopping experiences. A stand out memory was an experience with a Macy’s associate taking her time to help me pick a scarf for my mother before Christmas. I remember a Kate Spade associate explaining the types of wallets that are in fashion to me so I could surprise my girlfriend with a beautiful birthday gift. it was an unforgettable experience that I’m reminded of whenever I see my girlfriend use the wallet.
Invest in Your Biggest Asset
Companies are aware that they need to invest in the essentials, which means investing in the power of human interaction. You also have to invest in an essential asset, your employees. With over three million associates, companies need to invest more in their training, development, benefits and salaries. They also need to invest in technology that will bring the brands they work for closer to customers while making employees happier and better able to connect inside or outside of the store.
These three million associates are a diverse group, and retailers must embrace this as well. In a large survey of shoppers across Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, 42% of ethnic minority shoppers and 41% of LGBT shoppers reported that they would switch to a retailer committed to diversity and inclusion.
The Future of Retail is Human
Yesterday, on the PSFK x Retail Innovation Week Festival digital stage, I had the pleasure of talking to Suzy Ross, customer expert and founder of Bureau of Customer Keepers, Brenden Fludd the CRM Department Manager at Chalhoub Group, and Kevin Van Leeuwen who is the Retail Flagship Director at AMIRI. We had an insight packed conversation. Each panelist discussed their emotional involvement with brands and what it is that makes a relationship to a brand stick.
By Rob Niedzwiecki
The video of the event will be shared very soon.