PROFILE

Georganne Bender

Consumer Anthropologist, KIZER & BENDER Speaking
Georganne Bender is a consumer anthropologist, retail strategist, keynote speaker, author, consultant and one-half of the KIZER & BENDER Speaking team. Georganne and her partner, Rich Kizer, are contributors to MSNBC’s television program Your Business. They made Meetings & Conventions Magazine's list of Meeting Planners Favorite Keynote Speakers, have been named two of Retailing's Most Influential People, and have been listed among the Top 40 Omnichannel Retail Influencers and the Top 50 Retail Influencers since 2014. Their award-winning Retail Adventures blog was named the Top Retail Blog by PR Newswire Media, and is consistently listed among important retail and small business blogs. KIZER & BENDER are partners and emcees for the popular Independent Retailer Conference. Any speaker can talk about consumers, but KIZER & BENDER actually become them. In addition to yearly focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and intensive on-site studies, their research includes posing as every kind of customer you can imagine; and maybe even a few that you can't. The result of their research is literally straight from the customers’ mouth: solid ground level intelligence you can use to better serve your own customers. KIZER & BENDER are married, just not to each other. 2018 marks their 28th anniversary as a speaking team.
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  • Posted on: 09/19/2019

    Retailers falling short at training frontline workers

    What advice do I have for improving the effectiveness of retail training? How about actually doing it? Retail has spent so much time talking about online and BOPIS and AI and whatever happens to be this week’s buzzword that we forget to focus on a critical element of the in-store experience: the front line employee. Rich and I train plenty of frontline employees every year on sales, customer service, and merchandising, encouraging store owners and managers about the importance of continuing the training when we leave. Some do and some don’t. The ones that set up a training schedule and offer a library of training materials, come out ahead service-wise. The best continue with daily 10 minute “jog your memory” meetings that continually reinforce how to better do your job. Look, in today’s market, with all the focus on the in-store experience, if they want to be successful retailers can’t afford to not train their people. Training should be as mandatory as turning on the lights.
  • Posted on: 09/18/2019

    Chewy gains customers and increases sales, but will it ever be profitable?

    Just yesterday a friend was talking about ordering groceries from Walmart, including giant bags of dog food and kitty litter. The prices were good and the heavy bags were brought into her home for her. Chewy can’t do that, at least right now.
  • Posted on: 09/18/2019

    Retailers approach tech’s cutting edge with caution

    Yes, retailers should be cautious about adopting expensive new technologies, especially ones that are meant to thrill shoppers. Sure, customers will use technology when it’s convenient for them, but currently I think it’s pretty evident that customers just don’t care. Robots that clean floors earn their keep, but do the rest of these technologies we’ve been talking about forever grow sales? Do they improve the overall store experience? Retailers would be better off using those dollars to hire the right people and train them to provide stellar customer service on the sales floor.
  • Posted on: 09/18/2019

    Have U.S. malls lost their sense of community?

    Good points, Heidi!
  • Posted on: 09/17/2019

    Have U.S. malls lost their sense of community?

    Adults love a mall! All of the events I mentioned were attended by kids AND their parents, because back then the mall was a community gathering place. The Pokeman Party was loaded with adults — some of us love anything that smacks of ComicCon. You bring up a good point about Gen Z having higher standards for shopping, but have you ever seen a dressing room after a group of tween girls have tried on clothing? God love the sales associates who have to clean it up. Instagram is cool, but if it's a community, it's not one that exists beyond the app. You follow people you don't know and probably will never meet. How's that community? It would be pretty lonely to sit on your phone all day just looking at posts — at the mall you can hang with friends. Buying online is also a solitary thing. So I'm going to go back to what I said earlier, because if I have said it once, I've said it a thousand times: shopping is social. And Northbrook Court still ROCKS.
  • Posted on: 09/17/2019

    Have U.S. malls lost their sense of community?

    Malls lost their sense of community a long time ago, way before Apple stores became the reason to visit. In the '90s our local malls had entertainment, like concerts by Avril Lavigne, book signings with Nancy Drew’s Emma Roberts, and Pokémon parties that blocked access to almost every mall store. Santa was a big deal, those horrifying Easter Bunnies were a big deal. There were mall-wide sales and every retailer participated. Even the busiest malls near me don’t do that anymore. The mall was the place to be, the place we met and ate and shopped because the mall management worked hard to make sure that happened. That’s not true any more. A big part of why so many malls are wastelands is because the people who run them gave up. The party has moved somewhere else. Can they regain that sense of community? Probably, but it will require hard work and a whole lot of word of mouth.
  • Posted on: 09/16/2019

    How profitable is online selling?

    The fact that online only retailers struggle to stay profitable was an eye-opener at GlobalShop this year. One panel noted that once an online retailer hits a certain number it becomes too costly to attract new customers without a brick-and-mortar presence. The other not so dirty secret that no one wanted to talk about for a long time is that people like to shop. We like to touch and feel and try before we buy. We can dissect brick-and-mortar stores all day long, but shopping is and will always be a social activity.
  • Posted on: 09/13/2019

    Why did it take At Home so long to decide to sell online?

    Selling online and offering BOPIS makes perfect sense for At Home. I wonder why this hasn’t been offered before. At Home’s email marketing often uses item and price instead of showing the products grouped in life style settings. This backs up the in-store experience which is a lot like shopping in a warehouse. There are occasional room setting displays but most of the time you are surrounded by sky high fixtures that are packed with product. The perception is this is all low-end product, even when it’s not. In addition to looking to sell online, I would fix that’s happening merchandising-wise on the sales floor. The brand new store near my house is cold and impersonal, not the ambiance I want shoppers to feel when decorating their homes.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2019

    In power move, Walmart expands Delivery Unlimited

    Consumers have already shown that they are up for this kind of subscription service – Amazon Prime trained us to pay a fee for its free shipping and other services years ago. And it just makes sense if you are a frequent user of Walmart’s grocery delivery services. This is a no-brainer. If you deliver groceries this should be part of your service offerings.
  • Posted on: 09/10/2019

    Nordstrom Local hopes for big returns from the competition

    I have to be missing something here because this store has never made a lot of sense to me. It’s touted as a place to “give customers more access to brands and styles they love, to try on or take home in a fast and convenient way” but it doesn’t sell anything so that access has to originate somewhere else. Accepting returns for other retailers is a nice convenience but it won’t necessarily turn them into Nordstrom customers, especially if those returns are handled via a drop box a la Rent the Runway returns.
  • Posted on: 09/09/2019

    Ace Hardware builds through acquisition in the do-it-for-me market

    What I love about this is the independent aspect of this partnership - indie retailers and Handyman Matters franchisees working together. Ace store owners are a big part of their communities, they know their customers and what they need. This partnership brings the slogan “Ace is the place with the helpful hardware folks” full circle. Everything you need happens here.
  • Posted on: 09/06/2019

    Is virtual training better than real-life role-playing?

    I agree, Ian! Aren’t we always talking about the need to get people to put down screens and interact with one another? Someone will figure out a way to merge VR and real life, if it hasn’t been done already.
  • Posted on: 09/06/2019

    Is virtual training better than real-life role-playing?

    I thought of that movie, too! In my comment, I am talking about using VR to train managers how to fire people - it won’t be the same in person. Role-playing can help prepare for that. We hired actors to play about to be dismissed employees in a recent exec training session - some played it calm, others weren’t even close to calm. The improv skills they learned will come in handy someday.
  • Posted on: 09/06/2019

    Is virtual training better than real-life role-playing?

    VR is a good way train when options are limited, and it certainly beats videos, but nothing can replace real-life role-playing. Sure role-playing puts you out there but that’s how you learn. I can tell you first hand that human reactions, especially when being fired, can be intense. Your response IRL will be very different than what it is on a VR tool. Under pressure we humans tend not to follow a script.
  • Posted on: 09/05/2019

    Will Jockey inspire brand loyalty with its very first pop-up shop?

    Even though Jockey offers fashion items, its image is traditionally pre-packaged goods that are displayed at the back of department store lingerie sections. This pop-up shop will highlight that Jockey is more than great basics. Pop-ups like this are a smart move for a mall looking to increase its draw. And up its cool level. Jockey’s relationship with Victoria Arlen will attract shoppers as will exclusive promotions. Based on the product, there is a lot of potential for those Happy Hour sales.

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