Defining the “Wow” Shopping Experience

Defining the “Wow” Shopping Experience

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We've dedicated a lot of space in this magazine over the last year or so to the various ideas behind the “Wow” shopping experience. The initial reaction to anything with the word “wow” attached to it is that it must be something spectacular…right?

When it is attached to the notion that a shopping experience could be considered wow-worthy, the immediate feeling by many retailers might be that their store needs a complete overhaul—new displays, new lighting, new signage, etc.

While we're not saying those things aren't ever necessary (because for some retailers they are), we have been poking around a variety of retail channels lately and have noticed that we're saying “Wow” over little things way more often than we are over major things.

For instance…

We noticed a sign near an employee-only hallway in a local sporting goods dealer that read, “When a customer has an issue over a service or something they purchased in this establishment, you are to stay by their side until that problem is solved.” That's a pretty small detail but it made us say “Wow, that's pretty cool.”

At another retail location, the cashier noticed that the little boy in front of us had dropped a candy bar he was eating on the floor. The young woman walked out from behind the register to hand the boy a brand new candy bar. The gesture was worth no more than an $1.25 to us but we again said, “Wow, that was really nice.”

Believing that the delivery of a Wow shopping experience requires you to think cathedrally is wrong.

Recent research from The Verde Group, a retail research organization out of Toronto, states that approximately 35 percent of shoppers claim that they have had a “Wow” retail experience in the last six months. Most of the stories they relayed were along the lines of the ones we've shared.

The research firm added that there were five major areas that continually surfaced from the majority of those consumers they surveyed.

1. Engagement: being polite, genuinely caring and interested in helping, acknowledging and listening

2. Executional excellence: patiently explaining and advising, checking stock, helping to find products, having product knowledge and providing unexpected product quality

3. Brand Experience: exciting store design and atmosphere, consistently great product quality, making customers feel they're special and that they always get a deal

4. Expediting: being sensitive to customers' time on long check-out lines, being proactive in helping speed the shopping process.

5. Problem Recovery: helping resolve and compensate for problems, upgrading quality and ensuring complete satisfaction.

When a retail location can consistently combine and hit on those elements, the wheels of wow are often set in motion.

Another important point from the Verde research—the top response from those surveyed related to engagement, with 63 percent reporting that during their great shopping experience, store employees were “very polite and courteous.” Things like knowledgeable sales staff, quality product and speedy check out, while considered important, consistently came in behind simply being “nice.”

That's actually great to hear because it's really easy to do—though apparently not for everyone at retail.

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