Today’s blog is all about clothes, something I have a particularly soft spot for. Considering that we all have varying tastes and budgets, it will be difficult for me to cover everything so instead, I’ll break things down into the following categories:
- Big Box (e.g. Sears, Target, Walmart)
- Mainstream (e.g. the GAP, American Eagle, J Crew)
- Euro chic (e.g. H&M, Zara, Le Château)
I’m not a big fan of the big box store. While I get why they are successful, for me the experience falls a bit short. The space is big, a bit impersonal and finding help isn't always easy. Check out times can be painfully slow and I don't often feel like my business matters. That being said, prices are great and everything you need is one spot.
While I understand that they compete on price and convenience first, I challenge them to improve their customer experience. Aside from Nordstrom's, whose service is renowned, the rest can be better. Take a cue from Loblaw's and start finding ways to be a bit more creative and surprise your customers.
This one is easy and most mainstream retailers get it right. They strike a nice balance between quality, price, convenience and service. Translation: a good customer experience. The Gap is a great example. I’m greeted as soon as I walk in the store and shortly after someone asks me if I need help. Things are merchandised well making it easy for me to find what I want, and I’m offered a fitting room as soon as I have an item in my hands. Also, check out is generally quick and efficient (holiday period aside).
If you are looking for clothes that are reasonably priced (but more than big box), provide value for your money and you don’t mind shopping at multiple stores, mainstream is for you.
I think that this is the group of retailers with the most opportunity for improvement. Ironically, these are the retailers I visit most often but, I know going in that if I want to be fashion forward I need to forgo the experience. (Beauty is pain – or in this case, a pain!) What I am assured of is good looking pieces that are reasonably priced. My challenge to this group is to get better at the basics! Say Hi when I walk in, ask me if I need help or if you can get a change room started for me. A smile is also nice!
There are countless options for stylish consumers but much like the grocery store chains there is also room to improve the customer experience. The question remains, who believes doing so will translate into increased sales? I would argue that those that do will soon realize that they need a fresh approach to set themselves apart in a fiercely competitive industry. Price, value and convenience may be enough for a number of consumers but it definitely doesn’t meet the needs of all.
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Stay tuned for part 3, the final part a three part retail series on the customer experience