The Young and the Retail-less

People love to shop.  Young people love to shop.  They love to shop on-line, at retail stores and on-line at retail stores.  What is that Webman?  No, not standing on-line but connected to their 3/4G networks or to the wi-fi network that many retailers now have as a convenience for their shoppers.  Shopping is changing rapidly and technology enabled and savvy shoppers are fundamentally changing retail shopping.  The days of the in-store person walking over and saying “may I help you” are coming to an end.  Another place where technology is and will be eliminating many jobs moving forward.  Are we close to seeing the day where awesome customer service is actually self-service?

The self-service theme, which started years ago with checkout at groceries, has progressed to the point where shoppers can navigate entire stores without once having to say, “Just looking, thanks.”  Companies are adding the technology now because it has gotten cheap enough to make it feasible and because Apple and other tablet and touch-screen makers are increasing their sales efforts. Stores also don’t want to risk losing those customers who are not content shopping from home but nonetheless prefer Pinterest recommendations, Zappos reviews and Fashism feedback to interacting with someone behind the counter.

More and more companies are using self-service kiosks in-store to provide information, tell you about the product and in some cases even dispense the product.  One of the companies that I do consulting work for is an automated retailing company called Vigix.  They are pioneers in creating incredible customer experiences through the integration of video, sound, couponing and product dispensing within a elegantly designed kiosk.

Nordstrom introduced an app in the fall that executives expected people would use remotely to order items while they were watching TV or waiting for a train.  Customers used the app while shopping at Nordstrom rather than approach the sales staff. To accommodate this changing in-store customer, Nordstrom has added Wi-Fi to almost all its stores so its app will work fast.  Is is also testing charging stations and clusters of iPads and computers.

Businesses have no choice but to accommodate consumers who are trained to do research on their own — and prefer doing so. Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland now gives suite visitors an iPad so they can order food and drinks directly from it, while Aloft Hotels, a Starwood division, has installed tablets instead of concierge stations.

At Land Rover, the addition of online tools for research has cut down sharply on dealer visits. In 2000, people, on average, made 7.5 visits to a dealer before placing an order. In 2010, that figure was 1.3 visits, with shoppers conducting 80 percent of their research on their own. The new technology is also being adapted by manufacturers who have been dependent on employees at big-box stores to sell their products but now see the opportunity for a direct line to the customer.

I sourced content from a recent article for this blog – Please visit the following link for the original article.

The world is changing faster than ever.  Better hop on board the soul train!


Shop Local…It’s the Right Thing to do!

In support of our local businesses this holiday season.

November 26th is a very important day for Small Businesses.  And it is also a very important day for shoppers to vote with your wallets

Small business drives our economy and as you know our economy is hurting big time with no end in sight.  Small businesses represent 99 percent of U.S. employers and employ about half of the nation’s private-sector workforce..

We continue to modify our behavior and shop the big box stores, looking for the best deals, using Living Social, Groupon, Google and Amazon local deals.  We are also fully connected via our mobile devices so we can have deals sent to us, activated when we walk by a participating retailer.  We can check in via FourSquare, SCVNGR and FaceBook and we can search the web for deals on just about anything.  As I said, the economy is tough, so we are all looking for deals.

Many of these very cool and engaging technologies are not yet embraced by small businesses as they just do not have the resources to capitalize on all of these proactive traffic building and response tools.  Many small businesses have used these services, but they cannot maintain the frequency necessary to capture your mind share.

Small Business Saturday is about Main Street, not Wall Street. It’s about entrepreneurs and families selling things that the chains and e-commerce companies aren’t. Only small businesses can offer truly unique gifts and the most genuinely friendly customer service.

Small Business Saturday is also about supporting the local economy. The chain stores are owned by bigger companies that are probably based somewhere other than your hometown, but small businesses are usually owned by your neighbors. When you shop at a small business, you’re supporting your local economy and your local job base.

So here’s the deal.  Go shopping on November 26th but only go to your local merchants.  Or as you are putting your holiday budget together, allocate 1/3rd of it to support your local community.  They will have a great holiday season, you will get great service and a big smile and you will exemplify what the holidays are all about – GIVING!

Happy Small Business Shopping on November 26th and for all the rest of the days leading up to your special holiday celebration.