They just don’t. It’s not about you, it’s about them. They care about their experiences.

Recently I ran into a high school classmate of mine who’s currently working on an exciting project building ~20 incredible spaces across the US which combine both social life and co-working. She’s no stranger to creating great experiences for customers, and on that topic she was telling me “an amazing store in New York where you can literally take a shower to try out a shower head before you buy it. I would totally do that. You know our generation is all about the experience”

Sure enough I looked this up and found kitchen, bath, and outdoor retailer Pirch who was written about in Condé Nast (link at end of post).  Since I can’t describe their mission nearly as well as their CEO, here’s a quote:

“It’s about making the category fun, and getting you to love something before you buy it,” CEO Sears says. “We’re combining Apple’s store experience with the service of a Nordstrom.” Ironically, the cast-iron building’s last tenant—for a nanosecond, in 2014—was old-school retailer J.C. Penney.

Nailed it. You’ve heard us talk about Apple’s experience here, on webinars and on our Facebook Live. Pirch has built a business on it.

The customer experience should be fun, and the idea is absolutely to love something before you buy it. Because if you love it you generally will buy it.

This brought me back to what I see when I’m on site and also hear about from our sales and marketing team, as well as my own conversations. Everyone’s out spending money on product displays like it’s going out of style. This is probably why most showrooms are, in my experience, pretty cluttered – there are racks and displays all over. While customers definitely like to browse, they also appreciate a well thought out layout. From the conclusion of the Pirch article:

By coincidence, I walked by New York’s oldest hardware store—Simon’s, which stocks hundreds of kitchen and bath fixtures. But after my Pirch binge, the inert faucets hanging on a wall just reminded me of animal trophy heads.

Personally I love this example because it’s proof that just because it’s “worked for the last 40 years” does not mean it works today. Forbes recently published a great article on the millennials, whose spending power is about to surpass boomers, and why yesterday’s tactics don’t work.

Stores are evolving into entertainment spots for millennials who share similar interests allowing them to spend time together, while also enabling consumers to engage with the brand.

Retailers will have to work harder to meet their demands as they influence trends and redefine buying habits. They will continue to utilize technology, and continue to expect that the world around them to adapt them quickly. (emphasis added)

Kyle covered this here too:  disrupt or be disrupted. Retailers that don’t evolve are suffering now and will continue to go out of business as current competitors evolve and new competitors enter the space.

In other words, the idea that you do not have to evolve as a business is a complete lie. The market does not care about us as business owners, we have to care about the market.

On this same note, something else Kyle mentioned. He was talking to a specialty retailer who has seventy three(!!!) competitors within a 30 mile radius not counting home centers. If you’re this retailer, with 70+ competitors, what makes you different?

There are some great and easy wins for every retailer out there to really create an experience.

  • Create a thoughtful, clean on site experience whether it’s in your showroom or on your yard. Organize it so people can easily find and buy what they need.
  • Make it a true experience:
    • Selling flooring to someone who has dogs and asked about pet proof flooring? Let them bring their dog in to cruise around on it.
    • Kitchen and bath retailers – Pirch has this dialed. Cooking, bathing, and everything in between.

The path to the promised land is fairly clear. For brick and mortar retailers, it’s simply a matter of using your space to your advantage. An off the charts in store experience is something no online retailer can rival. Many will still think “it doesn’t apply/can’t happen to me”, and they’ll continue to be eaten by competitors who know the change is already happening and have acted accordingly, as well as their e-commerce counterparts as the shift in spending power to millennials continues.

For more great reading on this topic: please see the Condé Nast Traveler article here and the referenced Forbes article here