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Monday, November 22, 2010

Active vs. Passive Retailing and Improving the Customer Experience

Active vs. Passive Retailing and Improving the Customer Experience
"Minding the customer" by Janet Groeber from DDI Magazine's March 2010 issue with perspectives from Herb Sorenson, Paco Underhill, Vince Guzzi and Marcie Merriman has inspired two posts so far: The Changing Customer Retail Experience. Data Vs. Insights and Reinventing Retail.

This post explores active vs. passive retailing and improving the customer experience.

I'm particularly taken with the notion of "active" retailing which implies thoughtful consideration of customers and how products meets their needs. Think Trader Joe's deliberately adhering to a set number of SKUs while encouraging new product introductions.

Active retailing also opens the door to the possibility of meaningful relationships. Lulu lemon athletica comes to mind.

From "Minding the customer", I found these quotes intriguing [note: bolding is mine]:

Underhill: "Retailers can either super-size or specialize - become all things to all people and manage it that way, or focus on who they want to serve."

"Over the past six months, we've found an astonishing number of customers - particularly those shopping for durable goods - pre-shop a Web site before arriving at the store. That's a fundamental reordering of how retailers take products to market and a completely different way of connecting."

Merriman: "Planned interruptions in the shoppers' path, ... in-store displays and disruption packaging, are current tactics to stop shoppers and make them pick up something they hadn't planned to purchase. Often, these tactics result in more mind clutter and a less enjoyable shopping experience..."

Guzzi:  "The physical environment is still the theater to stimulate ideas... Shoppers are in constant search of being surprised and delighted. Beyond this, understanding underlying customers needs has inspired retailers to incorporate new service offerings..."

Sorenson: "It is really quite simple, moving from the passive warehouse mentality to actually selling to shoppers, not just waiting for them to buy...  What do shoppers want to buy? ... That's what a shopper-centric retailer will focus on selling."

What's your take on active vs. passive retailing? How would you apply it to your business? How do you see it improving the customer experience?


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