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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Highlighting Blogs: Retail Experience

Keyboard originally uploaded by PartsnPieces.
I've reorganized the LINKS section of Flooring The Consumer into 3 separate groups: M2W [i.e., marketing to women], Retail Experience and Flooring. This post focuses on the Retail Experience links.

Fast Company recently highlighted the 3 following resources in its September issue on page 31, under "Self-serving" by Michael A. Prospero. In his words, "these blogs show you how to get [customer service] right."

The first, Customers Are Always, is a gem of a resource. I discovered it in Wikipedia while looking up 'customer service' and mentioned it in Customer Service Matters. It is filled with wonderful customer service related observations, articles, and experiences from Maria Palma, a veteran of Nordstrom and Sears. Plus, she loves Starbucks!

The second, Church of the Customer, is by the authors of Creating Customer Evangelists, Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell. As described on their website, it's all about word of mouth, customer evangelism and citizen marketers." You'll find relevant links and valuable observations.

Finally, The Curious Shopper approaches the retail experience from the perspective of Sara Cantor, a retail planner and [female] consumer. I find it refreshing and totally on target. For example, this post -Stores will never die- discusses the value of stores vs. websites. It also refers to Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice [see Recommended Reading - Retail Trends on right hand side of Flooring The Consumer].

The Art and Science of Retail Management provides a managerial perspective on the retail experience. Rich Boberg is the store manager for Bon Marche/Macy's in Missoula, MT, and he reports on what he observes, and what works in his store. His blog roll includes a companion blog called Retail Customer Experiences which relates actual consumer experiences.

The next two, Retail Design Diva and Retailer Blog, provide veteran retail perspectives on reaching the consumer at-retail. The Diva site comes from DDI [Design and Display Ideas] and Globalshop. Retailer Blog is the product of George Whalin, retail management consultant and author of Retail Success! I find both filled with unexpected and practical perspectives on making retail connect better with the consumer.

For example, check out the following from Whalin's Retailer Blog, in a post titled "There are lots of ways to provide a pleasantly memorable customer experience!":

A pleasantly memorable experience can come from shopping in warehouses, funky little boutiques, and stores that are beautifully designed. There are no hard and fast rules. I find the disconnect is with retailers who don't understand that shoppers want to be delighted, amazed, thrilled, and surprised. What they won't tolerate is to be bored. [emphasis mine]
The Experience Manifesto I will review in my next post.

Although not specifically related to flooring, these resources offer valuable perspectives on the point of interaction between consumers and product at retail. In essence, best and worst practices for the retail experience. They bring up what's missing or what's working, and help develop higher expectations for how things could be so as to truly FLOOR the CONSUMER - regardless of the category!

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