Yes, this is the last blog posting here at Retail Contrarian. After more than thirty years in retail, it is time for me to say goodbye as I move on to another chapter in my life
For some time now I have been consulting with a real estate law, title, and closing company. The owner is a client, friend and someone I greatly respect. He recently asked me join his company as CEO. I will be working with him on elevating the client and employee experience, and helping an excellent company become even better.
Believe me, nobody is more surprised than I. I wasn’t looking for a job, but a job found me. It’s an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I will be working with some amazing people who are as passionate about what they do as we are. No matter what field you’re in, the customer experience is what matters most.
I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed working with so many of you, and being given the privilege of sharing in your success and challenges. I appreciate your support throughout the years more than I can say.
When I began this newsletter my oldest child was entering kindergarten, and retail was evolving like never before. Now my youngest is heading off to college, and retail has changed dramatically.
I continue to believe there is a bright future for some independent specialty stores. I believe people will still shop in many stores even though they can – and will – shop online. Here’s why.
Curated product mix. While this is something most independent specialty stores have always done, I believe the future will see retailers becoming even more narrowly focused. That means understanding who your targeted core customer is, and carrying a wider scope of products that will add value to her life.
A more personal store brand. The stores I see succeeding today are much more than simply a storefront with a name. They're a very personal brand in their community.
People know who owns the store, and what the owner(s) and staff stand for. They're leaders in the community. Customers don't just shop at this store for the sake of shopping. They feel a real affinity for the business and its people, and shop there to support and contribute to the local community.
Omni-relationships. There’s a lot of buzz today about stores being omni-channel; selling in-store, online, on social media, and on mobile, etc. That's very difficult for most independent stores.
With that said, what good specialty stores can do that so many others can't is use those multiple platforms to establish two-way relationships with customers. I see the future not just about a customer following a retailer on Facebook, Instagram and other sites, but retailers also following and engaging with customers on their social media.
A personal shopping experience. The future of the independent and specialty store is about having a mix of highly engaged, high-value clients and transactional customers. The successful store will have a staff of associates who see their primary responsibility as building relationships in order to become a customer's personal shopper.
While they will deliver a memorable shopping experience to every customer, they'll also look to build long-term personal relationships with clients who appreciate the value of a personal shopper. It doesn't take many clients like this for an independent specialty store to succeed.
Yes, almost everyone shops online, and that's not going to change. But no, not everyone is going to make every purchase online. There will continue to be plenty of opportunity for the stores that continue to evolve and further establish their niche in their community.
Please stay in touch. You can always reach me at this email address.
I wish you, your family, and your staff a successful and profitable future!