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Monday, October 18, 2010

Reinventing Retail

In The Changing Customer Retail Experience. Data Vs. Insights, I mentioned an article titled "Minding the customer" by Janet Groeber with perspectives from Herb Sorenson,Paco Underhill,Vince GuzziMarcie Merriman. It's in DDI Magazine's March 2010 issue. From that article, comes another topic that I'd like to explore with you: reinventing retail or at least rethinking it.

Here the quote that got me going on this topic:

From Paco Underhill, "...the basic design of the American supermarket has, for the most part remained unchanged since the 1930s. Much of that design was based on the weekly shopping trip, but also on construction and energy management costs. So, we understand why milk (historically) is in the left hand back corner, where it's more efficient to run power lines for refrigeration. But that has changed, so there are more possibilities now."

There may be more possibilities, but the retail store design hasn't changed all that much - be the store a supermarket or another type store - in the past few decades. Or has it?

We have seen retail salespeople emerge from behind a counter where they were gatekeepers between product and shopper. Product is now readily accessible in most stores. Self-service is common.

We've seen store windows change [see A. Alfred Taubman: Overcoming Threshold Resistance] becoming powerful means for drawing shoppers in [see Retail Window Displays Matter.]

I love the glimpse of the 1880s retail world that Emile Zola describes in  The Ladies' Paradise where a personal shopper escorts every shopper throughout the store. Nowadays, that's more of a high-end or specialty approach to retail.

Apple has used The Apple Store concept to address problems associated with its product category. Do other similar examples come to mind?

What changes have you noticed in retail? Which ones seem most effective? Which ones least?

If you weren't constrained by energy management or other paradigms, how would you go about reinventing retail?

I'd love to hear!

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