Retail is dead, right? Not by a long-shot says Jo McComiskey. As Seth Godin once said: People don’t buy goods and services they buy relations, stories and magic.
Sometimes it’s just a chance encounter. Maybe at a business start-up conference when you’re mid-chat and a mini beef slider. And suddenly a few throw-away lines from the complete stranger in front of you, makes you take stock.
That’s exactly what happened to me.
“Do you run a business” I asked the stranger in front of me.
“No, not yet just thinking about it at the moment. Do you?”, she enquired.
“Yes”, I replied, with a firm grip on my awkward slider. I have two retail stores plus online.”
“Retail, pppffftt it’s dead, really D E A D you should see how many shops have closed in (Stockade town north of Melbourne) she replied.”
I started to wonder if my new lunch break acquaintance had not heard that I own two retail stores, albeit very dead ones it would seem.
Losing interest in the conversation and the prospect of digesting the beef slider I rolled up my marketing sleeves and my serviette and made my way back into the conference room.
It was then that the epiphany – the EUREKA moment – kicked in. And I made a pact that I would drive in-store traffic with every creative fibre I could muster, while also fostering our current healthy customer base.
Reminding myself that our industry (bedding and bed linen) is experiential requiring you to use all of your senses, physically not just virtually, I crafted my response to “RETAIL IS DEAD” with an appropriately entitled:
“RETAIL IS NOT DEAD and neither is Phil Collins.”
Not dead, just resting.
Bricks and mortar retail is undergoing a metamorphosis, as are all industries in today’s disruptive world. Like a Darwinian bird retailers need to adapt or perish. As a small business owner we believe the way forward is continuing to provide exceptional service, quality products and advice to our valued customers so they return.
Playing the discount game is the fast track to failure and doesn’t build customer loyalty… you can always get it cheaper somewhere else.
Engaging the senses for a heady retail experience
We focus on making our store a beautiful, welcoming place to visit with lots of layers, here’s how:
The silky feel of sateen over crisp percale sheets is a hands-on experience. We advise customers not to count the threads, but touch them. The thread count game is a marketing tool and bigger isn’t always better – it’s always about the feel.
Window winkers – those new season minxes that adorn our shopfront bed and shamelessly beckon passersby. Our quickest turnaround from window styling to sale [of a very cha-ching bedcover ] was 30 minutes.
We hold in-store events at our stores and engage local cafes to contribute fare. We either pay or promote our foodies through marketing of the event. Prosecco helps, a lot..sometimes I even share it with the customers.
Listening to our experienced sales staff talk about a product that needs a detailed explanation is a joy. Knowledge is power, and face to face is the best way to impart that to a potential customer. Stop selling and start listening is a golden rule in any sales industry, and our staff listen and interpret the customer’s needs.
Get those branded candles burning with the aroma of lofty lavender, lemongrass & linen, sandalwood & sateen…
X Factor: “It’s just the vibe your Honour”
Customers need to feel good and love walking into your store. Make it beautiful/enticing/whatever your vibe, and happy staff are ESSENTIAL to fostering that feeling. Fortunately, we have the best staff in Melbourne and I’m reminded of that everyday.
The next time I hear someone spruik ‘Retail is dead, you know D E A D as’ I will be ready with a polite smile, fairydust and a Seth Godin pearl:
“People don’t buy goods and services they buy relations, stories and, magic.”