In a recent Forbes article William McComb, the CEO from Fifth and Pacific (formerly Liz Claiborne), stressed that the store experience is even more important in today’s multi-channel, multi-device retail environment. “Retailers must be firing on all cylinders” was the phrase McComb used to describe effective execution of the store, web, mobile, and social channels.
Since ForeSee is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan approximately 40 miles west of Detroit – the automobile epicenter of the world (or, used to be, anyway) – let’s take that car engine analogy even further. Hypothetically, if one cylinder was more powerful in driving the engine, you’d want to give it more gas right? Well, we all know that gas isn’t free and we’d want to be sure the end result is what we desire. In the case of the car, it’s horsepower. In retail, it’s driving future customer behaviors such as conversion, retention, recommendations, and loyalty. For most retailers, the brick and mortar side of the business is where the bulk of those behaviors happen and where the “rubber meets the road” for financial results.
As McComb states in his article, the retail store experience is more vital today than ever before. In many cases, the store is the last stop before a purchase because customers can physically see, touch, feel and test the product before they buy – all things you can’t do in the online world. In an effort to develop brand loyalty and personal relationships, many retailers do what they do best – they innovate to attract customers to their store showrooms.
The result is a more dynamic store experience that creates a competitive advantage by enhancing the interaction retailers have with their customers. There are thousands of things you can do with some great technologies, new store formats, and new service models. In a perfect world, you’d have a pile of money sitting around to do everything possible to create the optimal store experience.
Simply copying what is working for today’s showcase retailers isn’t the answer. What does matter is what will impact the satisfaction of YOUR customers, not your neighboring business’ customers and not your competitors’ customers. It’s not an easy thing to capture, and requires that you listen to what your customers are saying before you make any changes. How do you know that certain investments will drive bottom line dollars? Using a precise, credible, reliable, accurate, predictive measurement and analytic technology you can essentially bring your customers into your boardroom with you to weigh in on store investment budget discussions. Not literally of course, but with ForeSee customer satisfaction data in your back pocket, it will be as if your customers are sitting right there with you, voicing their opinions.
But how do you know what to do first? An effective methodology that can prioritize the focus based on what customers are saying has more impact on driving satisfaction than simple behavior measures. It’s like marching into the board room and saying, “Look, we have our priorities ranked 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, but the customer says if we make it 4, 3, 1, 2, 5 they’d be more likely to do what we want them to”.
It’s not always about where to spend, but sometimes, where NOT to spend. For example, one client was contemplating a multi-million dollar investment to remodel the dressing room areas of their store. Using data from ForeSee, they determined that those changes wouldn’t drive overall satisfaction and future behaviors in a significant manner, and elected to forgo the investment and focus on associate training because it was a more powerful driver.
At the end of the day, customers will vote with their wallet. Get them into the decision-making process early on by combining voice of customer with predictive analytics.