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Five ways that retail shopping is ‘judged’

BY Dave Wendland

An average consumer encounters the same or very similar product mix from retailer to retailer. Unintentionally, we have almost trained them not to expect anything special from their shopping experience. The retailer that does offer something beyond the ordinary shopping experience can score big points with shoppers. Do something unexpected to surprise and delight shoppers, and word will spread – probably quickly. So what is it that really makes consumers tick? I think it boils down to five main things.

Convenience
For anyone who has grown up in the retail business, success was often tied to location, location, location. But physical address is only one facet of location. Consumers who shop at traditional brick-and-mortar retailers desire an easily accessible location (ingress/egress) and an entryway free of obstructions. For those shopping in a virtual environment, location and convenience translates to things such as

  1. Search engine optimization;
  2. Web access on mobile devices, tablets or desktop computers; and
  3. The URL itself and related URLs that fit consumer needs.

Shopper navigation
Whether in brick-and-mortar or virtual retail, “aisles” need to be arranged for ease of shopping. The path to purchase must be consistent with the needs of the consumer. In a virtual world, navigation can be custom developed based on specific shopper preferences. In brick-and-mortar settings, give thoughtful consideration to the user experience. Too often, retailers manage space based purely on logistics.

Atmosphere
Retail atmosphere can make or break shopper loyalty. Capturing the imagination of shoppers is crucial. Certain retailers may offer no-frills, warehouse settings that fit perfectly with consumer needs, but these must be accompanied by low prices (and this works for some). Other retailers create atmospheres that stimulate more shopper senses during their visit. Consider the experience at Duane Reade’s 40 Wall St. store versus Aldi. Neither is wrong, if it matches shopper needs.

Customer service

Many independent retailers have hung their hats on the importance of customer service for decades. Truth be told, customer service is more than smiling associates with cheerful personalities and helpful attitudes. Customer service is delivered by telephone, Web interaction, through hours of operation, return policies, online “help” and any number of other interactions.

Retail pricing
Pricing has become far more transparent with the arrival of consumer-friendly technology that allows comparison shopping based on price alone. But low prices do not necessarily translate into more sales. The example I like to use is a hamburger. You can purchase a hamburger from a fast food restaurant for a certain price point, knowing that you are sacrificing at least ambience. Serve that same burger with the assistance of a dietitian to guide consumption patterns, and many consumers will pay more.

What other differentiators do you feel are important to shoppers? How can retailers cost-justify an investment in factors such as these?


Dave Wendland is VP and co-owner of Hamacher Resource Group, a retail healthcare consultancy located near Milwaukee, Wis. He directs business development, product innovation and marketing communications activities for the company and has been instrumental in positioning HRG among the industry’s foremost thought leaders. You may contact him at (414) 431-5301 or learn more at Hamacher.com.

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Duane Reade to move corporate headquarters to 40 Wall St.

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK — Manhattan-based pharmacy retailer Duane Reade has confirmed plans to relocate its corporate headquarters to 40 Wall St., which is already home to its mega flagship store.

The company’s current lease at its corporate headquarters at 440 Ninth Ave. was nearing its August expiration so the retailer, which is owned by Walgreens, began searching for a new space.

Duane Reade will be taking the 21st and 22nd floors, for a total of 54,500 square feet, inside the historic 72-story building, which is the same Trump Organization-owned office tower that currently houses Duane Reade’s flagship location.

As previously reported by Drug Store News, Duane Reade officially opened in early July the 22,000-sq.-ft. flagship store. The store has several unique offerings including in-house prepared sushi, a Juice Market and beauty services, such as an Essie/OPI manicure bar and a hair styling salon provided by Phyto Universe.
 

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Sears store-within-a-store concept features fitness equipment

BY Alaric DeArment

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Sears Holdings recently finished its latest "Fitness Flagship" store-within-a-store, which it now has at more than 30 Sears stores, the retailer said.

Sears Holdings, which operates the Sears and Kmart store chains, said the 6,000-sq.-ft. stores feature polished hardwood stores, tall mirrors and expanded fitness equipment layouts designed to resemble a gym.

The company also said its fitness website, FitStudio, has become "the most comprehensive online fitness community for both fitness enthusiasts and professionals." The site includes blog posts about fitness trends, video demonstrations of exercises and workouts and a database with information on more than 130,000 personal trainers and fitness events.

"Whether just starting a new workout routine or a longtime fitness enthusiast, customers want a complete solution," Sears Holdings SVP and president for fitness, sporting goods and toys Hugo Malan said. "Sears sells more fitness equipment than anyone else, and we believe in continually improving our offering, so we have built an online fitness community and developed new destinations that attract customers both in-store and online."

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