How should retailers balance personal versus impersonal experiences?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is an excerpt of a current article from the blog of Art Suriano, the CEO of The TSi Company.
At a large family reunion I recently attended, a conversation around retailing turned to how ordering a sandwich in a convenience store was no longer convenient.
In many c-stores today, the customer must take it upon themselves to order what they want at a kiosk, as if any dialogue between the employee and customer was not allowed. Two of the guests loved it because they were confident they would get the sandwich exactly how they wanted it. Yet three of the guests found it to be an inconvenience and impersonal not to be able to speak to a human being. So, what’s the point?
Simply, today we have evolved into two very distinct shopping groups: the personal and the impersonal.
And by impersonal, I don’t mean cold or indifferent, but rather just a group of people who don’t want the fluff and prefer speed over conversation. They prefer to do it themselves rather than having someone do it for them. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, what retailers must understand is that these two groups are very different with their wants and needs. To be successful, retailers must equally address both and not abandon one over the other.
Eventually, the dedicated in-store shopper may begin to enjoy some of the online shopping conveniences just as the staunch online-only shopper may acquiesce from time to time, realizing that when buying certain products, the in-store experience is much better.
My concern is that too many retailers in a panic are tilting too far to the technology side and by doing so will alienate the customer who prefers the more traditional in-store shopping.
If you feel you need to invest in Wi-Fi and an app that does everything in place of the store associate, fine. But beware of the customers who will not respond positively and will walk out if they can’t find a well-trained associate to help them. For every convenience added for the “I’d rather do it myself” shopper, don’t take one away from the traditional one. Simply employ a good balance of both.
- Today There Are Two Types Of Shoppers And Retailers Can Have Both! – Art Suriano
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see a bifurcation of shoppers into those looking for personal versus others looking for impersonal experiences? What further steps should retailers take to adapt to those customers wanting personal in-store experiences versus those wanting impersonal ones?