While brand uniformity is key to retail, each community you’re a part of has unique attributes that should be leveraged to better connect with your customers.
To follow up on our last post where we looked at how 7-Eleven puts their customer data and each location to work for their brand, we dug deeper into this topic to give you real-world tactics that you could incorporate into your business’s retail store layout today.
We know that the average customer expects certain reliability, the comfort that comes from a consistent selection and quality, something that a retail chain or multi-location retail brand offers. There’s no denying that people are drawn to what they know and things within their comfort zone. But there’s also no denying that customers who take the time to come to your locations want and expect something special, something more personal than the “average” experience.
The winning formula for modern retailers is in blending both the consistency of a trusted chain with the novelty of an independent operator…at each and every retail location. It’s about keeping each store’s image within the boundaries of the brand, offering, and customer experience model, while also creating distinctive design features at each location. Why? Because the added element of uniqueness at each retail store will soon become a recognized brand play.
Let’s dig a bit deeper into this.
Connecting the uniqueness of a retail store to growth.
Your retail footprint is grown out of every customer interaction. And while the thought of taking a unique spin on your brand and retail environment from store to store may seem counterintuitive to the business of growing through process, economies of scale, and the savings that come from standardization – it in fact fights the ever-present trap of allowing a retail brand and experience to be watered down through scale and growth.
What we find is that simply by having an individualized retail mindset, retailers do not risk the brand or customer experience as much as they first anticipated, and they gain the freedom to design their retail settings to reflect both the brand and the unique qualities of each target group, neighbourhood, or location.
In fact, your company’s products, customer service model, and signature style are accentuated, not diluted, by demonstrating that you want to be recognizable as a locally-oriented business.
The point is this: to prioritize a special customer experience at every location, and the most natural way to accomplish that is to make the location cater to the particular neighbourhood of consumers who will become your valued long-term customers there.
The 6 keys to individualizing your retail store.
There are countless ways to create a custom look, feel and experience in each of your retail stores – something that your customers can recognize as, “that something more.”
And while there are many places you could take your custom approach, here are the six that you should start with:
1. Think: How can we be a part of our local scene?
- Everything from how your retail location looks, the artwork on the walls, the storefront, the staff who work the floor – have your business reflect the local community.
- Ensure that your team lives in the neighbourhoods they serve, so they have a keen awareness of, and engagement in local events.
- Bring the outside in by putting on display symbols of local annual events, community groups, art fairs, festivals, tournaments, etc.
2. Think: How can we participate in local traditions?
- Every neighbourhood, culture, people-group, and the region has local traditions. So how can you be a part of these and bring them into your store’s operations?
- Whether that’s honouring local holidays and traditions, running sales, taking part in food festivals, or partnering up with other businesses in your area to be a destination for those attending local events, you can support authentic traditions and events, building your own sense of community.
3. Think: How can we share and celebrate local cultures?
- Look at the makeup of your customers who walk through your doors every day – do they come from different backgrounds, cultures, or social groups? If so, incorporate and celebrate what makes the people who live in your area unique.
- If you’re in dense urban areas – consider those who chose to live there. What brings them together? What gives them a sense of comradery? Tap into that and celebrate it.
- Or maybe you’re in a suburb or small town, reflect the charm of the vibrant main street and personal touch of knowing everyone’s name.
4. Think: How can we piggy-back on recreational attractions?
- You not only have local landmarks and popular destinations within your area, but you can also represent them within your space.
- Consider adding accents, electronic displays, or even wall graphics featuring local and regional points of interest.
- And you can always partner with these organizations to be the destination for entry tickets, bundles, and upsell opportunities.
5. Think: How do we tap into seasonal trends?
- Tie regional seasonal changes and events to your sales and promotions – any time of year – and especially if they carry a local significance.
- While it’s natural to dress your window for the season, consider building out displays with the opportunity to turn over graphic elements, bulkheads, digital displays, and more.
- And focus your product end caps or featured products based on local seasonal trends.
6. Think: How can we represent community interests?
- Match the local atmosphere and reflect within your store what the community is about.
- For example, if you have a store located in a skiing or boating community, reflect the local activities throughout your seasonal décor.
- If you’re in a young, urban, professional community, consider creating opportunities for each customer to discover new things with a farmer’s market or a booth within the store style approach.
Ways to come up with the right ideas for your retail store.
There are a whole bunch of ways to generate ideas to customize your locations. Of course, your store management is, theoretically, the most passionate and imaginative group. They’re probably already eager to share their abundance of excellent concepts for individualizing the floor space and exterior and the service model.
- Consider a little friendly competition between store managers to gather a stack of good ideas.
- For a windfall of ideas, get all employees involved.
- Open an online idea submission box for customers, perhaps offering a discount coupon for winning ideas.
- Add a request for ideas to your customer satisfaction survey.
- Before you undertake any significant interior or exterior changes to your space, unless your design skills are truly up to the task, hire a retail design professional to help you realize your vision.
Let’s make it happen.
With the concepts and ideas in hand, plan your next moves. Of course, this means reviewing budgets for the current and upcoming years.
To plan something small, you could implement low-cost initiatives within the current or next quarter.
To plan something larger, work through the next two quarters and roll it out within the next budget period.
The point is to shift the mindset from a “one-size-fits-all” approach to your retail rollouts to a more customized approach. This will allow you to make a noticeable difference in the customer experience, and then later will enable you to prioritize increasing your efforts within each store over time.
Ultimately, the character of the environment you create will not only give your customers a strong sense of why they should love your brand, it will also give them the sense that their community’s location is something unique — the sense that it’s built just for them.
Want help with ideation, design, planning, or custom fixtures for each one of your retail locations? Our team of design and production experts know what it takes to grow from one location to the next. Getting it right today, and at this location, means you can drastically improve your chances for future growth and success. Give us a call at 905-264-0917 or contact us.