Tuesday, October 13, 2009

WOWing the shopper !!!!

What are those elements that go into making a never to forget shopping experience?

Peoples’ expectations are high. It is easy to fall short of those expectations and hard to eclipse with something that’s over the top. A recent research report carried out by few of my students on "Discovering WOW- A study of Retail Shopping Experiences in the Metro Cities," points to five major areas that contribute to a never to forget shopping experience.

The ingredients of WOW

Brand Experience: Exciting store design and atmosphere, consistently great product quality, making customers feel they are special and that they always get a deal.
Expediting: Being sensitive to customers’ time on long check-out lines, being proactive in helping speed the shopping process.
Engagement: Being polite and interested in helping, genuinely caring, acknowledging and listening
Executional Excellence: Patiently explaining and advising, checking stock, helping to find products, having product knowledge and providing unexpected product quality.
Problem Recovery: Helping resolve and compensate for problems, upgrading quality and ensuring complete satisfaction.

Retailers can focus on creating a platform based on five major pillars of retail satisfaction to increase the probability of creating a wow experience.
Brand experience and engagement are the strongest drivers of loyalty. Younger consumers aged 18-30 were most likely to recall having a great shopping experience. Their experiences are coloured by greater comfort with multitasking and familiarity with the internet, making them more transaction oriented, rather than relationship oriented and less tied to brick – and –mortar stores. Those over age 50 like being treated and acknowledged courteously.

In the current recessionary climate, though price is important to consumers, but it is only one factor in the overall WOW shopping experience. It is the product excellence that matters more to modern consumers. While the Great Depression led to an era of penny pinching, today’s economic crisis is leading consumers to focus more on value than price, specially with credit cards, retail and telecom. People are being more scrupulous about what they buy and where they buy from. More educated customers are looking for a better value in everything. Hence, despite shortages of resources and store closings, it is still possible to delight and surprise consumers. The possibility exists when retailers have everything in place. The best way to lay foundation to WOW customers is that store owners to hire and train staff who are able to take basic information about shoppers’ preferences and convert that knowledge to customized service.