I couldn’t help but think of my recent brick and mortar retail experiences as I sat down for the CEO of Female Factor, Bridget Brennan’s, talk on “CX Sells: How to Win with the Human Side of Selling at Brick & Mortar Retail.” It didn’t take long to conclude that my experiences in the last handful of months have been, quite frankly, crummy.
My last two trips specifically stick out. In one instance, I attempted to buy shoes – expensive shoes – and was told my size wasn’t in stock. Ok, fine, but there was no follow up attempt to order the shoes for me or to see if another store had them in stock. Just a curt, sorry, next. They sure knew how to make a girl feel special . . . In the other occasion, I headed to the mall to find a dress to wear for a friend’s wedding. I entered a dressing room area with a handful of dresses. The area was void of store personnel and no room was available. I stood with 6 dresses in my hand for what felt like hours until a door opened. I quickly hopped in the room and, yuck, discarded clothes were strewn around the floor. My perception of these expensive dresses immediately shifted. I left. I could go on and on, but the point is, more often than not, I gave up, came home, and went online to purchase.
Now don’t get me wrong, I like to shop. My husband would tell you I like to shop far too much. But here’s the thing that Bridget nailed – ecommerce has transformed expectations for shopping in real life. When purchasing online, I am greeted, it’s easy to search, I can find my size and preferred color, I am sent suggestions based on my preferences, and my item is sent to me within days. It’s tailored and consistent. I could go on with the perks, but you get the idea.
But, as Bridget emphasized, online shopping doesn’t have it all. Online retailers, for example, can only engage two senses – sight and sound – whereas the brick and mortar retailer can engage all five senses. More than that, plain and simple, people love real human connection and the energy it brings. Now to be fair, as Bridget noted, ecommerce is not the only thing changing expectations. There are other factors that are similarly impacting buying patterns, including having less time to engage in the physical marketplace and passive shopping.
So with all of these challenges, how can we bring the joy (and people!) to brick and mortar retail? According to Bridget, “a great in-store experience” is “the ultimate disruptor.” To combat these existing brick and mortar retail challenges, Bridget suggests leveraging the human side of sales by utilizing a “motivators framework.” The goal of this approach is to drive an emotional connection that makes customer’s feel: (1) connected to the brand and the sales associate, (2) inspired to buy, (3) confident in their purchase decision, and (4) appreciated for their business.
Now as a retailer, why should you care that the customer feels connected, inspired, confident, and appreciated? Because you can’t close a deal if you can’t open it to begin with. Bridget’s research shows that we should care about our customer’s connection to the brand and sale’s associate because “all things being equal, the service experience can be a deal breaker or a deal maker.” Inspiration is important because, simply put, “if you aren’t inspiring, you’re not selling,” especially when it comes to discretionary funds. Confidence matters because it “helps prevent returns and buyers’ remorse.” And finally, appreciation is key because it drives purchases, reviews, and referrals. As Bridget insists, this approach and staying “centered on the very human reasons of why people buy is the best compass of all.”
Retailers far and wide – please, please take note and buy a copy of Bridget Brennan’s book, Why She Buys. I love to shop. And I love to shop in stores. Please don’t make me avoid them.
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Research and Strategy Associate