Know Me! Help Me! How retailers can add value to their customers lives
In the first post in this series, I stated “Customers need retailers to be convenient or to add value to their lives.” Everyone knows what convenient means, but what does “add value” mean? Is it the lowest prices? Is it saving customers money on the things they buy the most? Is it having a loyalty program where you get coupons or rebates? While all of these things are part of value equation, alone they do not “add value” to shoppers’ lives. Adding value is about really solving your customers’ problems, not just selling items at the lowest price. And to be able to solve problems, retailers need to know their customers and understand their needs.
There are many retailers today who have cracked the code and are really adding value to their customers’ lives, outside of selling goods & services at a fair price. A best in class example is Apple. Known for being the retailer with the highest sales per square foot, it’s not just about selling. In a recent interview, Apple’s head of retail, Angela Ahrendts, stated that employees are not to focus on selling. They are instructed to provide information to customers – specifically information that they don’t know. Let that sink in. The most productive retailer out there is focused on adding value for their customers in the form of education. Once a shopper feels like they are getting something they can’t get elsewhere, they will continue open their wallets and show their loyalty.
In an earlier post, I used the phrase "innovate or die". Retailers need to embrace techonology to differentiate themselves in a crowded market. One of my favorite innovations is the use of augmented reality (AR). This technology is starting to revolutionize retail and is a method in which retailers can address customers’ pain points. Not sure how that chair will look in your living room? Ikea has an app, Ikea Place, that lets you see how it looks. Much easier than picking out a chair at Ikea, putting it together and then realizing it doesn’t look good next to your couch! Not sure how big that wall is that you need to buy paint for? Lowe’s launched an app, Measured by Lowe’s, that can take measurements through your phone’s camera. Super handy for the vertically challenged (such as myself).
A retailer who has used AR well is Sephora. They understand that their core customers not only want to wear makeup, they want to explore beauty products. And the best way to explore products is to try them, either in person or virtually. For years, you have been able to try on any product at a Sephora, either in a self serve mode or with the assistance of one of their beauty consultants. Now, Sephora is bringing that experience to their Virtual Artist app. Using AR, Sephora app users can try on any make up item from wherever they are. Check out some new looks that I tried on…..don’t really think the purple lipstick is for me!
Who else is innovating in this space? Any retailers that have earned your loyalty by solving problems for you?
Be sure to check out the first two parts of this series in my blog…
Part 1 - The State of Retail – Lauren’s Take