For some, shopping is a delight. For others, walking down the alley full of groceries or trying yet another pair of jeans are a nuisance. Elevating customer experiences has become a common agenda for many retail chains. Since 1980s, upscale as well as mid-market hotels have been trying to immerse their customers in the physical environment full of luxury and distinction. Thirty years later, shops have started to create a similarly distinct environment, which is pleasant to visit and look at.
Previous academic discussion elaborating on retail experience targeted primarily the importance of various staff skillsets and characteristics, which can influence customer satisfaction. Genuinely caring, eagerly serving and engaged staff is surely one of the key factors. However, the appearance of an outlet experienced through all five senses has become a topic as well.
Five years ago, several chains attempted to reinvent themselves moving away from offering products on shelves to offering a reason to stop by. Emulating the Apple store concept, shops jumped on the idea of pretending to be a different kind of establishment – turning bookshops into cafeterias, cafeterias into children playgrounds or public office space, electronic malls into digital centers, drugstores into beauty salons, car dealerships into mobility outlets, or grocery stores into marketplaces are a few examples of that epochal shift.
Feigning that disposable fashion is not that different from designer’s haute couture when it comes to retailing fulfills the longing of many consumers to be positioned among the most affluent and trendy. Arranging a grocery discounter in a way that resembles a farmer’s market sheds the light away from aggressive purchasing strategies and/or purport the belongingness to local community. The ancient schizophrenic desire to become someone else is nowhere more skillfully delivered than in retail outlets, which are being masked as congregation places, in many ways emulating the medieval approaches of ostentatious church buildings, in which modesty and humility were the proclaimed virtues.
Shops have become public places in many ways. Instead of meeting a friend at a city landmark on the main square, people get together in a new age cafe, where they discuss business issues over a laptop. On the other hand, in traditional cafes customers congregate around a table, each and every one with a smartphone ”talking“ to a friend which is not present or chatting in written one to another.
Emphasis on distinct features and emotions has been the main component of successful positioning, sometimes to the extent of pretending what the product (or in this case a shop) is not. In the era of intense competition and relatively limited options to distinguish store brands by clear positioning arguments. Some of the common positioning propositions can be related to specific assortment or (usually modestly paid) staff. The store concept is an unchartered territory in many ways, which itself shall give a reason to stop by.
O zlepšování zážitků z nakupování aneb touha stát se někým jiným
Před více než třiceti lety hotely prošly výraznou změnou – z míst k přespání se stala místa, která často stojí za to navštívit, protože nabízejí neobvyklou míru luxusu a elegance, které dávají návštěvníkům pocit, že jsou někým jiným, někým, kým by vlastně chtěli být. Podobnou transformací procházejí v posledních deseti letech retailové obchody, které svými často unikátními koncepty předstírají, že jsou něčím jiným a tím dávají zákazníkům důvod ke své návštěvě. Obchody s knihami se mění v kavárny, kavárny se mění ve veřejné kanceláře, obchody s elektronikou se stávají poradenskými centry pro svět technologií. Odvěká schizofrenní touha předstírat, že jsme někým jiným, dostává v retail positioningu nové rozměry.