“I think we’re having fun. I think our customers really like our products. And we’re always trying to do better.” – Steve Jobs

Or perhaps Steve’s other quote that innovation is the difference between leaders and followers is even more apt?

Did you know that, on average, less than 20% of consumers entering a retail general merchandise environment actually become a customer? So here we have 80% of your shoppers, on average, simply not purchasing from you. Chances are they then find what they are looking for at your competitor.

To further this point, our research indicates that the average customer service score is 70%. So really we have only 70% satisfaction from 20% of customers.

So how do we lift these conversion and satisfaction rates?

1. The retail environment needs to be interesting, exciting, relevant, aspirational, curious, slightly fascinating, reassuring and above all connect the customer with the emotions that unzip the money bag.

2. High energy through human activity and animation will always attract an audience and retail events need to capture these elements.

Retailers who understand the power of ‘retailtainment’ events and innovation will capture the imagination of their current and future customers. Those that don’t will face the same inevitable lack of response from shoppers and therefore lack of conversion.

Here are some quick “how to” questions to ask yourself with regards to your retail format experience.

  • What peel-off rate are you getting from passerby traffic? That is the number of shoppers who walk past your shop, look and walk in. Take a look and you might be surprised.
  • How often do you change the windows of your shops? Specialty fashion will average between 36 to 50 times per year.
  • How are you creating entertainment and energy inside your shops, with movement, light and technology? What do you do that creates a visual and energetic point of difference?
  • What retailtainment events do you have planned for the year ahead other than the traditional periods that everyone else does?
  • What is the in-store experience? Do you change product stories often to change the look of your hero merchandise?

The contrast of the shop with little energy, no events or stories, little activity and without any change at all is the first sign of not being retail ‘fit’. The second is a low enthusiasm, distracted, disengaged retail group of people masquerading as a team.

Customers often don’t go looking for competitors; it is just that more often than not we just send them there.

First published by SmartCompany, May 2014