Is retail at the tipping point?
There is a bright future for some retailers, real behaviours, actions and choices that will keep smart brands on top.
The movie classic Sunset Boulevard tells the story of Norma Desmond the faded movie star and her anticipated return to the big screen.
“Alright Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up” - the final scene crushes and shows Norma as a sorry fantasist.
Retailers take heed, don’t be fooled into thinking all is well, don’t kid yourselves into thinking your triumphant return to centre stage is guaranteed.
There are choices to be made and actions to take.
Take these two examples and the growing divide between retail delivery today and the promise of the future just coming into focus.
Juice bars are characterised by minimal merchandise, little disruption and calm interiors.
Pressed Juicery is no exception - smartly, elegantly following the convention.
Brands differentiate through improved ingredients, blend & service, Pressed Juicery stands out from the crowd.
After a forgivably clumsy welcome & random Pineapple bias, my server moved on. Predicting my non-binary response to the broad question “what did I think of Pineapple?”, she and I both knew the answer would be unsatisfactory.
So she decided for me, Greens 3. I can’t say the name excited me but the taste certainly did. Plain packaging with healthy ingredients listed in alphabetical order. Full flavour raw, cold pressed juice that delivers a big punch, a great introduction to a seductive US brand, originally from humble beginnings in Brentwood, West LA, now with locations all over the continental US and expanding.
Well done Carly, Hayden & Hedi I salute your vision and importantly your delivery,
(sample of 1location in Seattle)
On the other hand Starbucks at Seatle airport is a good counterpoint, not a bad experience , emphatically not, but a different one and the gap between the two is illustrative of the rift between retail present and retail future.
Starbucks is about community, service, reliability, convenience and is not, excepting Starbucks Reserve, about making the customer feel special. Retail operations drive the experience, at best employees behind the counter are friendly, engaging and want to know about my order, no mean feat I acknowledge and celebrate them. I am already impressed but processing the line, the experience drifts and I lose the servers attention and it feels prosaic.
If this was a Hollywood blockbuster, some of the action is flat and the story is missing a beat.
In post digital experiences, like the juice bar the pace is guaranteed, because my attention is held by the offer, the server and the promise of something special. As technology enables less friction and more intuitive retail interactions, the importance of the whole epic movie holding together and keeping its clear differentiated shape is vital. If we lose the things that make it special we lose the connection and we may as well just confine retail future to the trash icon, click empty trash and move on.
The customer is centre stage and the story is written for her, retailers that think otherwise risk delusion and diminishing returns.