Michelle Caldow: “The store will become heavily weighted to more experiential experiences for the customer”
Today we speak with Michelle Caldow CEO and Co-Founder of Retail Lifesavers
Will brick and mortar retail disappear?
No, there will always be physical retail due to our lifestyle, and our need for sensory interactions, however, the store will become heavily weighted to more experiential experiences for the customer. Think wholesale style showrooms that showcase the season. In-store experiences will be determined by the brand to design their own signature experiences to connect with their customer and elevate their brand experience to set them apart from their competition. It will be about the connection between the brand to its customer.
What are its defects and virtues in front of online retail?
Depending on which side you look at, the defects for the customer have historically been, inconsistency of the brand, their staff training & education which impacts the customer service and the brand experience. The merchandise design or mix can be off and this can leave you feeling disappointed and seeking competitors to fill the gap. In 2020/21 we would add in the pandemic which in lockdowns leaves no option but to shop online, and also leaves the customer worried about their health & safety in the physical environment.
The virtues are you get to interact with the brand, the brand’s ambassadors (staff), the product, the store environment, and have a full sensory experience, to play. You also get connections with other humans which is inherent in our nature to connect. We get to experience another world created outside our home, or work environment and be fully immersed in it, some might say get lost at times in it – to escape!
Acquiring a new customer is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one
What is the biggest problem or weakness that offline retail has to face?
How to make people feel safe in a pandemic, how it accommodates and communicates this to customers, such that we still come into the store environment as well as the delivery of consistency on all brand touchpoints and an experience that online cannot deliver.
In the current context, what role does technology play in retail?
A very big role. You will see more of an in-store feature and benefit to support in-store experiences, used to offer entertainment, support the shift in contactless options for safety and virtual and signature experiences like meeting the designer or interacting with staff in other countries. Scanning the QR code of a product in the store and placing your order and paying right there on the spot and collecting before you leave the store or shopping centre or it is delivered to you home before you get home, this, and much, much more.
keeping the right target customers happy and engaged is invaluable
Highlight a current technology or innovation that you believe is setting a trend
We will see more virtual technology to try on clothes or to demonstrate the use of a product that we can interact with, get all of the product’s features, and benefits, usage, price, it will be the “new” way of trying before you buy.
What does it take for a store to work? Is there a magic recipe?
In my 35yrs of experience, the 5 Fundamental Key Pillars of Retail we speak of in our business with our clients will remain the key to all of these changes in the online and online experience. The 5 Fundamental Key Pillars of Retailing: Brand Clarity, Ideal Customer, Product | Service Offering, Customer Experience and Strategy.
These fundamentals in my experience when I conduct a business review for a client, the problem sits in one or all of these pillars, even the most iconic brands can at times lose their way and get complacent. The balancing act is in these ingredients, the product/service you sell, and your ability to have staff and an experience that emotionally connects with your customer and gives them a reason to want to come back again and again.
Staff will be elevated to more brand ambassadors and experts in product knowledge and delivery of the brand experience
How is customer loyalty achieved?
Acquiring a new customer is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. It makes sense: you don’t have to spend time and resources going out and finding a new client — you just have to keep the one you have happy.
The bottom line of Loyalty: keeping the right target customers happy and engaged is invaluable. One of the key metrics in understanding whether your company is retaining customers is customer churn rate. Customer churn rate is a metric that measures the percentage of customers who end their relationship with a company in a particular period.
How do you see the future of retail?
Stores will be more like wholesale showrooms, there will be more virtual experiences and services with designers etc. You will be able to customise products more to your taste based on the menu the brand will offer you. We’ll see more physical store collaborations and partnerships under the one lease think shop in a shop like department stores.
Staff will be elevated to more brand ambassadors and experts in product knowledge and delivery of the brand experience. These ambassadors will be better trained and customer friendly.