By Matt Powell
A lot has been written about improving the customer “experience” in sports retail. No one would argue the importance of great customer experience.
No one would argue the importance of great customer experience. But experience can mean different things to different people, and even different things to the same person depending on circumstances.
But experience can mean different things to different people, and even different things to the same person depending on circumstances. Let’s explore the different kinds of customer experience and how sports retailers can respond.
Retail must be easy. The transaction experience must be as stress-free and frictionless as possible. Once a purchase decision is made, get the product and customer out of the store as quickly and simply as possible. Lines at the register or multi-step checkouts are not conducive to a great experience.
Retail must be personal. “Brand Me” is your customer’s favorite brand. Well curated assortments are critical to serving “Brand Me.” Personalization through special offers and loyalty programs leverage the retailer’s best customers. Elevated and knowledgeable service adds to the personalization.
Retail must surprise and delight. Part of a memorable experience is discovering the unexpected. Retailers must feature newness, and the newest products must tell great stories. Today’s consumer wants unique products, made by unique brands, and sold in unique retailers. Private label, if well executed, can be a component here.
Retail must offer value. Like it or not, the price equation is firmly part of the retail experience today. Price has never been more important to the consumer. At the same time, value also means getting the most for your money. Understanding this balance is key.
Retail must be flexible. Not all of the same characteristics apply to every encounter. Sometimes consumers just want to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible, while sometimes they want to be pampered. Not every new initiative works. Astute retailers will test and respond.
The retail experience has never been more complicated, or more important. The successful retailers will be those who offer the greatest experience.
Matt Powell is VP, Senior Industry Advisor — Sports at The NPD Group.