Greatness lies, not in being strong, but in the right using of strength; and strength is not used rightly when it serves only to carry a man above his fellows for his own solitary glory. He is the greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own.” – Henry Ward Beecher

Muhammad Ali was a great entertainer, Mandela a great inspirer, Steven Jobs a great visionary, Walt Disney a great dreamer, and the list goes on of great people and their one core defining attribute.

As a retail leader, what is the one defining attribute that you would say makes your business great?

Better still, what is the one single attribute above all others, that your customers would say is great about your business?

Perhaps it’s a relatively lower level of innovation, a certain sameness in our retail offer? Comparatively higher rentals and wages, our dominating shopping centre sector, a need to produce short run profits to feed the creation, or a combination of these factors that it is making it a little more challenging to find that one single attribute among some retail offers that calls out this attribute of greatness.

At this year’s retail events in Europe, it became remarkably easier to see greatness in many speciality retailers, predominately high street with less of the tension associated with retailing in Australia currently and certainly with more scale. It was invigorating to see this greatness translated into a passion for their craft.

From the Amsterdam Cheese shop (we are great in cheese!) to the backstreet fashion boutiques that are simply great in their passion for fashion.

From Tom’s Shoes, which make donations to Third World charities with every pair of shoes sold, to a fashion retailer proclaiming to “only wear our clothes, if you want to make them stare” or even the Denham shoe polishing and repair shop whose single claim to greatness is that we “love your shoes”.

As online and omni-channel retail becomes an indelible part of our retailing fabric, consider that the instore retail experience as the centre of all things customer experience and by definition your opportunity to display and live your greatness is increasingly more critical than ever before.

As Katharina Kuehn, RDG Insights director, sees in our monthly Australian consumer tracker studies that the physical store continues to be the customer’s most preferred channel in most categories and across most consumer segments.

Overall, 63 per cent of Australian consumers still prefer to see, touch, and feel the product before buying. This figure is an average and of course varies significantly across categories i.e.: fashion, 75 per cent; tickets and books, below 20 per cent.

Out of those customers who do purchase a product online, two thirds visit the physical store before or after their purchase.

From the customer’s perspective, the value and potential for emotional connection retailers can achieve with a well designed physical store experience is significant.

What is the call to arms when I visit your shops? Or will I see more of the same?

Will that one defining attribute that makes you great shine through?

And in the reflective moments, have you considered that one attribute that makes your competitors great?

This year we celebrate the 10th anniversary edition of Retail Innovations along with our Ebeltoft Group partners.

The study demonstrates how successful innovators are fully incorporating cross-channel retailing, deep customer involvement, experiential elements, and intelligent use of technology to disrupt and engage more than ever before.