I have been listening to or reading a lot of features about the future of retailing recently. There is obviously a lot of debate about how the internet will affect retailers and whether shops will just become showrooms and items will then be ordered online. HMV have become victims of this “showrooming”, probably because music is something that you don’t need to go into a shop to experience – you can hear everything online and easily buy music for download. The shop did not offer any real experience or need to go to a shop. Also the brand may have been around for ever but it did not really enjoy brand loyalty.
Those retailers who are doing well are those who still offer the customer a reason to go to their stores but allow the customer to choose whether they buy there and then in the store or at the company website. Another factor of success for retailers like Zara is that they offer a product which cannot be bought from anyone else. I had an experience this weekend where that formula didn’t work very well. Our vaccum decided to die just as my husband was in the middle of cleaning the house (yes, he does it! – although I do everything else!) and we decided to check out the John Lewis website and then visit the store as we wanted to buy one pretty quick. We took notes of the ones we liked the look of online but when we got to the shop, there were NONE of the models we had selected. Also we couldn’t talk to an independent member of staff but had to talk to reps from 3 of the brands, none of whom represented the one we were most interested in – Sebo. I have to say that the lady from Panasonic was great and actually recommended that the Sebo was best for our needs. But the only Sebo there was a really old model. So we had to come home empty-handed and order the vacuum online. We are strong John Lewis supporters and so we will let them off on this occasion but the experience was not a great one. We then went off to try and find somewhere to have a nice cup of tea and a cake and everywhere was closed! Not the best Sunday I have ever had!
So what does your brand or company identity say? Even if you are a small business owner, it still matters what impression prospective customers receive when they interact with you. And today that could be via your website, a call to your offices, your blog, LinkedIn, Twitter, an exhibition – the list is endless. The important thing is to consider if all these channels convey the same message and, most importantly, is it the right message? Could be worth just taking a few minutes out to think about that one ……….