Following a protracted period of robust spending, much of it online or omnichannel, consumers have rolled with the punches as supply chain issues have made in-stocks more uncertain.
Their expectations going forward are going to be higher, according to Sandra Duff, president of Jackman Reinvents, which specializes in customer engagement.
“Consumers have been very forgiving of retailers. Now they’re going to be looking for something new. They want to be enticed. They want to be wooed,” she said as part of an exclusive interview for Home Textiles Today’s January/February issue.
Most retailers have a good idea of who their shoppers are demographically, but brands need to do a better job of understanding their values beliefs and attitudes, Duff believes.
“Do they like to be inspired are do they feel very confident in their choices? Right now, attitude is very important.”
Jackman Reinvents worked with Joann Stores to develop- in-store spaces where shoppers could create and collaborate with associates or one another. The consulting firm also worked with JCPenney as the retailer crafted its concept testing store in Hurst, Texas, which has experimented with fitness classes, a selfie studio and a Pinterest in-store style explorer.
Showrooming is poised for a return, but in an evolved fashion. “In 2018 to 2019, it was about price comparison. Now that’s easy to do online,” Duff explained.
The new showrooming, when done right, offers the consumer a richer experience. With Joann Stores, Jackman Reinvents found that creativity was an essential part of the core customer’s lifestyle. When visited the store, they didn’t just want to buy merchandise, they wanted to share their passion. The remodeled store experience includes levering opportunities to connect with staff to talk about their projects and to tap into their expertise.
Creating a better, more productive shopping experience requires rethinking “how staff shows up in store,” said Duff. “What is their purpose?
The current environment is also a good one for smaller, niche retailers as more consumers embrace the “shop local” ethos.
“Sometimes, big retailers are letting them down. And it’s nice to see that curated point of view,” she said. “That’s experiential.”
She credits volume retailers with reacting swiftly to changing consumer needs during the era Covid-19 era and working creatively this year to keep merchandise flowing despite supply chain challenges. The focus, by necessity has been on the operational side. Now, said Duff, retailers need to pay more attention to how consumers’ values have changed.
It’s about who they trust, and how they spend their time as well as their money.
“Shopping has become a chore,” said Duff. “Make it worth my while. Make it worth me visiting your store.”