Today, many retailers are creating flagship stores to attract customers and create buzz for their brand. These flagships are often great retail experiences and serve as a platform for retailers to test new ideas and technology. Due to the high cost, these flagship stores tend to be one of a kind. However, often the buzz generated by these stores does not drive sales across the chain. This is where a total customer experience strategy is critical.
Flagship stores provide an exciting customer experience. While the investment in a flagship store helps produce a memorable customer experience, it also means that the exact experience cannot be replicated across the chain, which often leads to a disconnect for consumers. This disconnect means that the retailer is not maximizing the benefit of the flagship store.
Our research proves that having and executing a total customer strategy experience delivers financial results. In order to maximize the financial benefits of a flagship store, the store must be part of the total customer experience strategy and the elements highlighted in that store must be evident in a simpler fashion across your chain.
What is Total Customer Experience?
Total customer experience is the integration of the customer strategy across in-store, online and brand engagement. It provides a guideline to ensure that any and all investments are on strategy and designed to maximize return. It allows for flexibility across different mediums and stores to ensure that the brand essence is consistent without being identical, and that new initiatives contribute to the big picture goal.
Many online retailers that add bricks and mortar stores to increase marketing reach and provide an engaging customer experience understand this. For example, Birchbox, a beauty company, started online. Their purpose is to help women and men find the best beauty products for them. This is done in two ways. Every month, customers are sent a box of sample products based on their profile and preferences to try. Online real customer reviews rate products and videos explain how to use them. When they built their flagship store in Soho, New York, they continued this strategy.
Tablets are scattered throughout the store to give online access to customer reviews and product information. There are stations with sample product for trying and instructions on how to create specific looks. Associates are trained in customer service and focused in taking the frustration, inefficiencies and confusion out of purchasing skin care and beauty products. The flagship store is on strategy with the online business. In addition, as they grow their store network, it is possible to use less expensive options to stay on strategy. For example, tablets throughout the store could be replaced by free wifi, allowing customers to get the information on their own device.
Bringing it Back to Flagship Stores
Retailers that apply the total customer experience to their flagship stores understand that impressive-looking digital displays or product assortments may attract customers through the doors, but won’t convert them or turn them into loyal repeat shoppers. To become a destination store, each and every element of the flagship store must be aligned with the brand’s values and positioning.
For example, customers that discovered your brand online and know you as a fashion-forward athleisure brand should see evidence of this in-stores, whether through interactive videos and technology demonstrating the products in action, innovative visual merchandising, or through knowledgeable staff that customize recommendations according to the customer’s needs. Events, such as a live fitness class guided by a trainer that embodies the brand’s values, can be used to bring the brand essence to life. This way, the flagship store would reconcile the customer’s online and brick and mortar experiences and inspire them with a renewed understanding of your brand.
Why is this Critical to Retailers?
With the investment in bricks and mortar stores and the rise of online shopping, it is critical to ensure that you are maximizing the return on your investment. As the best retailers work to build brand engagement with consumers, it is critical to be consistent at every touchpoint. Your best ambassadors are satisfied customers. Varying the experience between stores, flagship and online is a sure way to confuse them. If consumers cannot easily describe you, they won’t. Don’t be left out of the discussion!