Three Traits Thriving Retailers Share

Every retailer wants to know the secret to improving profitability. Is it increasing their online presence? Diving into the social media world? Investing in a major advertising campaign? Or is it simpler than that? Caruso Affiliated’s post

State of Retail: Why We Must Embrace Hospitality identifies three core values shared by thriving retailers that set them apart from the rest: hospitality, time and connection. Chuck Bray, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Randal Retail, sees these same core values becoming trends in the retail construction world.

Hospitality

It’s as simple as it sounds. Making customers feel welcome, valued, and respected is all it takes. How does hospitality benefit the retailer? For one, customers who experience hospitality are more likely to stay in the store longer and more likely to spend more money.

  • The Caruso Affiliated post references several retailers who turn hospitality into profits.
    • See’s Candies creates a welcome environment with their clean, traditional appearance, quick service, and generosity (lots of free samples!).
    • The Container Store’s investment in its team (they pay 50 to 100 percent above industry average) creates unmatched customer service.
    • Anyone walking into Starbucks wants to stay in their welcoming space. Both their customer service and environment encourage customers to sit down and enjoy their coffee rather than rushing out the door.
  • Bray sees his clients making changes in their retail environments to increase the hospitality that they offer their customers.
    • Many Randal clients are providing charging stations to recharge devices during their store visits, increasing the amount of time they spend in the location.
    • Randal Retail has had an increase in requests for fixtures and displays that allow customers to explore new technology sold by leading electronics retailers. Customers appreciate this chance to play and try out products and services.

Time

Arriving at the checkout station to discover a long line puts off customers. Offering customers an easy way to avoid the wait creates loyalty and encourages additional purchases. Bray notes that a quicker check out provides a one-on-one service-oriented experience and predicts that other than certain kinds of retail establishments like grocery stores, waiting in line will become a thing of the past.

  • The Caruso Affiliated post identifies several retailers who have found ways to save time for their customers.
    • The Apple Store’s convenient, efficient processes allow customers to spend less time on education, checkout, and information gathering.
    • Nordstrom, renowned for customer service, saves customers time with their mobile point of sale and personal shoppers.
  • Bray sees more and more clients requesting kiosks for checking in and pods or small desks for mobile checkouts. He reports a decline in the use of the long cash wraps (frequently used at stores like DSW and TJ Max) and rows of cash stations like you see at grocery stores. Many of Randal clients are starting to use cueing systems so they can check in and then wander the store while they wait rather than spending their time waiting in a line.

Connection

Top retailers create an opportunity for customers to connect with the retailer and with fellow shoppers. As customers begin to develop strong connections to the retailer, they spend more time in the store, and brand loyalty is born and strengthened. How are retailers successfully encouraging connections in 2016? Bray says Randal is helping customers design comfortable, welcoming social areas to encourage customers to stay in-store longer. They’re avoiding the plain, generic waiting room chairs in favor of the kind of furniture you’d have in your family room.

  • Several retailers providing opportunities for customers to connect are listed in the Caruso Affiliated post.
    • Entering the Tom’s flagship store in Venice, California feels more like walking into a social gathering than a store.
    • Nike creates connection by displaying the works of local artists, supporting local runners by providing lockers, and supporting local running clubs.
    • The American Girl place creates an experience rather than just selling dolls and doll-related items. They have a hair salon, restaurant where you can have tea with your doll and special events.
  • A fitness center client of Randal Retail encourages customers to stay longer and develop relationships with other customers by providing comfortable seating, including L-shaped couches with coffee tables, nice benches, and high tables like you’d see in a Starbucks. Requests for comfortable seating areas have increased so much that Randal has added an in-house upholstery department.

While increasing social media presence and investing advertising campaigns may also increase profits, implementing the core values of hospitality, time, and connection shared by these winning retailers will have a lasting impact on brand loyalty, time spent in-store, and customer experience, an impact that affects the bottom line.

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