Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Instore Experience Post Iso

Pre corona virus the term “instore experience” had a slightly different meaning to what I think the new post isolation version will evolve into.
As a retail designer giving BC (before Corona) examples, I would list

-make up demonstrations as your walk thru a department store
-staff that can suggest the exact type of clothing that suits you so well you end up buying the whole outfit.
-cranking music in the hip clothing stores that perfectly matches the image they wish to portray
-the luxurious smell of perfumes as you enter a store and elevates you to another level.

-trendy hair salons were the staff are the same level of cool that you aspire to when you walk in for your big transformation

- food tastings/demos in the supermarket
- your favourite furniture store showing room settings and vignettes in exactly the way that you would like to recreate them at home.

- amazing staff that greet you on an such a personal level that you feel you’ve instantly gelled with them.

Instore experience is often spoken about in the highest echelons of retail board rooms, but not always successfully achieved on the actual shop floor. All retailers think they can offer it, but they don’t always have the magic X factor to pull it off. I can design great looking stores but if the staff have bad attitudes the customers will remember that long after the incredible fitout.

So how might post isolation instore experience pan out? The staff free Amazon stores have ideas that can be built upon. Let’s put the thinking caps on for some more ideas!

-          Provision of entertainment outside the store while people are queuing. Keeping potential customers happy is important and keeping them happy and remaining in the que is key. Perhaps a busker of some type.

-          Taking temps pre-entry is becoming more normal, perhaps this can be done in some fun step in booth that doesn’t make you feel like you are having a medical examination.

-          A buzzer system on your phone that tells you when a change room is ready, so you don’t have to que.

-          More counter-less stores. Having staff that move around with tap and go handheld devices to prevent queuing at counters.

-          Self-serve wrap bars that dispense bags to minimize on handling.

-          Convenient pick up points, whether it’s counters, dedicated car spots outside for staff to run out or the embracing of free local deliveries.

All the wonderful senses like smell and sound can still be incorporated. Having great staff will always be a positive. I’m looking forward to seeing what ideas retailers come up with.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Onlined Out

When lock downs were first being discussed many people/ businesses and community groups started brain storming about how they could maintain a sense of continuance. Schools were already making plans for online learning.

In my own life and house hold we had online school, online scouts, online music lessons, online networking groups and talk about online art lessons. A few other local businesses that I visit or purchase from were offering online bar sessions and online trivia.

Humans are social pack animals. And whilst all the online offers sounded great and some people did participate, we were getting “onlined out”. Online also brought the doom and worry of the world to us. Lots of people chose to retreat into their cocoons. Whilst we had more “free time” during isolation, many people created lists of ways to fill that time and it didn’t involve swapping the previous physical activity for the new online version.

Just because we couldn’t physically participate in something didn’t mean we wanted to do the online version of it. The translation from real life to screen lost a lot of the senses that made the real version so great. Many of these online offerings have always been available. I love having a drink at my local pub with friends and soaking in the atmosphere. Somehow it just doesn’t have the same feeling sitting infront of a computer screen. 

Drinks at the local became watering my garden with a wine as the sunset. Enjoying live music changed to catching up on my pile of ironing with the stereo turned up and a scented candle burning. Things that had been on the “do to list” were suddenly being ticked off. The increase in hardware sales is testament to this. Or people found new online ways to fill their time. I have friends who have always wanted to learn yoga and their new spare time allowed them to learn online.

During isolation we’ve adapted our lifestyles. We know online everything will always be there for us, but its been nice to switch off and make the choice to use this time for what we really want.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

And Out again...

The light at the tunnel seems to be appearing- slowly. Although I am still concerned that we will be hit with another peak of corona cases.

Whilst locked down at home I have been very thankful that I live in a house with a decent sized yard, as I love gardening and that has kept me busy, often to the detriment of housework. I have also been thankful that my children are all good ages that they can do their schoolwork online without heavy supervision and can also easily entertain themselves, unlike the baby and toddler days when they were very labour intensive.

On the retail front one of the things that I have most loved seeing is the rise of click and collect. My first experience was with Bunnings and within half an hour after placing my order I had an email to say it was ready to be collected and to book my time for pickup. I wish this service was around back when I was struggling with a baby, toddler and young child and overall finding life very difficult.

We live in a great country that the government has been able to put financial steps in place to help with the huge amounts of people unemployed. However the 6-7-week delay from announcing this to people starting to receive their money has been sad to watch as I drive past Centrelink and see the ques lengthening. I’m very sure many of those people are walking in pleading to get some money urgently as they have not had any payments and are struggling to feed their families.

I think one of the main things we’ll see into the future is a see-sawing economy. Any industry that works on long lead times will be affected. My own industry is a perfect example of this. At the moment I have builders who have been very busy since the start of the year doing jobs that I designed as far back as September last year. These builds are almost finished now and after that I can’t offer them any more work to quote. The lull that hit designers and architects a while ago is about to hit the builders. Whilst there are many government and council building projects being initiated to keep the work rolling, not all builders are licenced to tender for this type of work.

The clothing industry is another that I think may be affected by the long lead times. Often orders for a clothing season are placed several months in advance and the drop in sales from shops being closed and some retailers cancelling orders will have an effect on this supply chain also. It will be interesting to see if there will be provisions for extended stimulus packages for these types of industries.

Some of the nice changes we’ve seen may stick, such as people getting out exercising more. People are keen to be able to hit the shops and once cafes and restaurants open, they will be full again (as much as the new restrictions will allow for). There have been lots of posts on social media with people proclaiming their lives will become simpler without all the material possessions. I think the truth is that we’re creatures of habit and want to resume our previous lives, with modification where needed.