I hosted a small group of friends for Easter dinner this year. My parties usually include some sort of a small gift for the attendees and I decided the gift for the ladies should be a Faberge egg pendant. (Not a real one, of course.) Where to find them? Alas, I went to the Internet because I couldn't find them locally.
I bought one from a company called Private Collection. It arrived in two days, before the scheduled arrival date. Now, I'm used to a package coming in a mailing box complete with a
mailing slip, but nothing else. This one arrived gift wrapped and with a personally signed thank-you note. I nearly fell out of my desk chair. I had to open the box, carefully trying not to tear the lovely paper. What I found inside wasn't what I was expecting: Yes, it was a Cloisonne egg on a beaded necklace, but it was the size of a hen egg! I expected it to be the size of a quail egg. But, even though it wasn't what I wanted to give as a gift, did I send it back? No! The merchant had made such a positive impression on me that I merely laughed and decided it would be a great gift for the jolly green giant if he ever showed up at one of my parties.
Now, why am I telling you this? I read a very interesting article a few weeks ago about winning retail strategies. Our bricks and mortar stores are competing with online merchants, a trend that was moved into warp speed in 2020. How are they competing? Well, many bricks and mortar stores have changed their hours of operation making it less convenient for consumers to shop. It's extremely hard to find good staff, so the people inside the stores are not necessarily helpful and sometimes are downright rude. Merchants have less selection. And, many of them went silent or drastically cut back advertising last year. They are no longer top-of-mind with consumers.
Meanwhile back at the ranch (that's an Oklahoma expression), what are online retailers doing? They make it possible to buy at all hours of day and night from the comfort of your bedroom, living room, or wherever you are by using your phone. You have a pretty much limitless selection since you are seeing items from all over the globe. And, after you visit a site, those enticing pictures show up (you might like this....) and follow you around for days. And, about 80% of US households have an Amazon Prime account that gives you free shipping.
For our bricks and mortar stores to compete, they must be better than the online alternative. They must find ways to "surprise" customers and make the experience of shopping with them great enough that they will talk about it with friends.
Today, we are business consultants with a specialization in marketing. We must approach our clients and look at their business as a whole. Advertising can get an interested consumer into a store once, but the merchant must convert them to hard cash and a habitual customer. All experiences work together to equal successful marketing.
Something as simple as wrapping paper, a bow and a hand-written note kept me from returning an item that I had made a mistake when ordering. And, I have a very positive impression of this merchant. Will I buy from them again? Well, next time I need a hen-sized Faberge egg pendant, I know where to find it!