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Seduce your customers or watch their eyes and wallets waver.

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If we’ve learned anything in from the recent GFC it has to be that our customers are not simply looking for discounts as an incentive to continue spending. While it was great for the last few years there’s now a sense that the industry has played that card and it’s now become an expectation not the exception.

So is retail dead? This humble blogger thinks not.


Take a walk into the Apple Store or how about Zara or maybe those shops selling $3 cupcakes and you’ll see they’re not only full of  customers but in some cases they’re waiting in lines to get in. Oh yeah, they’re also on mailing lists literally hanging out for the latest releases. These successful retailers have worked out how to seduce their customers, sometimes into a frenzy. It has become the, I must have this, everyone else has one X factor. Sounds familiar?

You don’t need to be in fast fashion or electronics to notice a change taking place. Take for example Kmart, taking the bold move to move away from cyclical sale periods, to a lower benchmark price point. Listening to Guy Russo at the recent Retail World Conference, he admits that department sales periods are like a drug and once hooked there’s no getting customers off the expectation that they should simple wait for the next sales cycle to purchase specific product categories. His answer; clean up the isles, cut down the selection, go direct to the manufacturer and make the shopping experience simple and cost effective, brilliant!

Another retailer who is seeing sales soaring is The Athlete’s Foot.  They are an extremely successful ‘shoe’ retailer that sells everything but simply expensive ‘fashion’ shoes. They understand that anyone can purchase shoes online from overseas, so why just compete on price. They are masters at selling to the human condition. Go into one of their stores and experience a fitting that would normally be reserved via a podiatrist appointment. ‘Fitprint’ is a technology that Athlete’s Foot have used to entice their customers into not only a better fitting shoe but a level of satisfaction and bond between customer and retailer, again brilliant!

So what interesting angle can you offer? What will make your products irresistible? Is it having a unique window store display that is totally left of centre so people need to stop and investigate (Kikki k) or making an in-store display look like a day at the beach, because you simply sell surf wear (Billabong).

Let’s be honest, racks are only racks, even buying online is really just you and a computer. So maybe what smart retailers have worked out is that what we really want is to be seduced which hopefully leads to opening that wallet.

Which are your favourite stores and what’s their X factor that keeps you returning? I would love to hear from you.

Stephen Duncan

Stephen Duncan

Stephen Duncan is a Technology Retail Specialist.

1 Comment

  • Steve
    Comment Link


    01 February 2012

    I actually think one of the biggest challenges is getting consumers INTO shopping centres. I'm not suggesting shopping centres have become deserted, but I would speculate that attendances have dropped in a similar pattern to bricks and mortar retail spending.

    As for retailers that really nail the shopping experience, Hollister have really gone all out.

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