The Why of the Heart of Specialty Retail

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Doug Fleener's Retail Performance Blog/The Why of the Heart of Specialty Retail

If your store closed tomorrow, what would people miss the most?

The convenient location?

The well-stocked store?

Or something more profound - the warmth, the personal connections, the way it made them feel?

For many specialty stores, the approach is purely transactional - efficient processes to facilitate smooth exchanges of goods and services.

While functional, this mindset breeds no lasting loyalty. If such a place disappeared, its absence would scarcely leave a void.

In contrast, the most cherished specialty retailer fosters emotional connections that transcend transactions.

They cultivate a sense of community, personal touch, and memorable interactions that resonate with people's feelings.

These are the places that, if lost, would be genuinely missed, like the farewell of a dear friend.

I was lucky to work for two companies that believed the customer experience was vital to their value proposition.

The founder of The Sharper Image was driven to offer his customers unique products and store/catalog experiences.

It’s also where I learned the importance of setting high staff expectations to deliver the expected customer experience.

At Bose, I learned how to create an emotional connection between employees, customers, and products. We were also driven by Dr. Bose’s belief that to be better, you had to be different.

Both companies knew their heart’s why.

So, think about - what is your "heart's why"?

Why do you exist beyond just making money?

What feelings and experiences do you hope to evoke in those who interact with your store and staff?

Consider how this purpose resonates with you and how it can inspire your team and customers.

Imparting this deeper purpose into your culture, people, and daily customer experience instills more soul into your business.

It creates the kinds of resonant, irreplaceable connections and experiences that ensure you'll always be missed.

Unless you’re a transactional store, every customer must experience the why of the heart.

The emotional connection is never a theory. It’s the interaction between every customer and a staff member.

Take a moment today to assess how well your staff is executing the whys.

Write down the 3-5 key staff actions that create your heart’s why.

Then, identify any gap between the desired why and what customers experience.

That’s where more opportunity is created. That’s where more long-term customers are developed.

That’s the heart of specialty retail.

So let me ask three questions:
1. If your store had a catchphrase, what would it be? (I always loved, “Laugh, love, and shop on!”)

2. Besides a happy customer making a big purchase, what makes your heart sing the most? (I’ll go with, “I’ll be back” and “I’ve got to tell all my friends and family about the store.”)

3. What’s the most important thing your store can do even better to communicate with and connect with the customer’s heart?

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Blog by Doug Fleener

The Daily Performance Expert

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