business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Good piece in Fast Company about how some retailers are bringing a new yet old-fashioned approach to physical stores.

An excerpt:

"A decade ago, thousands of stores a year were shuttering in the “retail apocalypse” as customers increasingly shopped online. In those years, brands felt like they had to come up with entertaining retail experiences to woo customers into their brick-and-mortar locations. But in the post-pandemic years, consumers were eager to return to physical stores and more than 16,000 stores opened in the previous two years. Last year, retail sales hit $6.183 trillion, up 11% from the year before.

"As retail comes back, brands appear to be moving beyond entertainment and are focused, instead, on offering highly personal customer service, designed to make an impression. At a Todd Snyder store, you can have your clothes altered by an in-house tailor while you drink a glass of Scotch. At outdoor retailer Orvis, you can take a free fly-fishing class in local waters, so you can learn how to use your new fishing gear. At Converse’s holiday pop-up, you can have your sneakers embroidered with your initials. And Ikea is launching smaller stores, which have fewer products on display, but will have designers on hand to help you design your dream home.

"In many ways, these high-touch customer service experiences return to the traditional, old-fashioned ways that shopkeepers have built relationships with their clients. But in a world where consumers increasingly interact with brands online, these personalized interactions with a brand feel novel and special."

You can read the entire story here.

One of the things that grabbed me about this story was the lede:

When you visit a Boll & Branch store to pick a new set of sheets, the staff will ask if you would like them to come to your house to make your bed for you. And they’re perfectly serious.

For some customers, it’s not an appealing request, but for others, it’s a dream come true: Around two dozen people a month take up the offer at each of the brand’s seven stores.

Seems to me that this is the kind of Eye-Opening service that some (though, of course, not all) food retailers could be offering, especially to best customers.  

Who are your best 2-3 customers?  If you are a chain, who are the best customers at each of your stores?  Is there a "make your bed"-style service that you could offer that would totally distinguish your company in the face of competition?  Is this a question you could pose to both your leadership teams and font line employees, looking for grass roots ideas that could make a tangible difference to your brand image?