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Retailer, please take your brand seriously

In almost every shopping street, and in almost every shop I visit, I see the same thing happening. No ambiance in- and outside the store, unpacked boxes in the aisles and when I want to purchase something specific it’s out of stock. It sometimes looks & feels as if retailers don’t see the need to offer a great brand experience. On the contrary, it seems like they have accepted their future bankruptcy, without the energy to continue to fight for their market share.  

A lot of people will probably say: Why do you care, a physical store is something of the past. Sometimes it definitely looks that way, but I don’t agree with the fact that physical stores are ‘dead’. There is still a future for them, but that requires change and transformation.

Most retailers don’t offer any added value in the high street when compared to their online channels. The physical shops offer a boring alternative for the online shops, with less experience but also with less products available. If the physical store doesn’t offer anything extra, from (brand) experience to expert advice, why would a customer even choose to visit a physical store?

That will change if retailers shift the perception of the store and position it as part of the customer journey. Their stores should exceed the expectations from the shopper and deliver a brand experience that creates a ‘wow’ feeling. Visiting a store needs to be a great experience again. By then, it will turn into a valuable challenger to an online shop, instead of poor competition.

Retail formulas that do show growth – like Moooi, B32 Group of Asics – provide some insight in how it’s done. They created places that people love to visit and where they feel at home. Unfortunately these brands are exceptions. A general shopping street or shopping centre still brings tears to my eyes. I see retailers that don't take their own brand seriously. So what do they expect from their customers?

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Image John Faas

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JOHN FAAS

COMMERCIAL MANAGER

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

Sam Walton, Founder of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.