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How Retailers Can Meet the Demands of the 'New' Shopper

As retailers gather in New York City for the National Retail Federation’s Annual Convention and EXPO The new, post-recession American shopper is high maintenance, promiscuous and demands an innovative and engaging experience in-store and online. That’s the takeaway from a study released by Leo Burnett’s marketing services arm, Arc Worldwide .

“The recession has forever changed people’s mindset about shopping,” said Alan Treadgold, head of retail strategy at Leo Burnett Worldwide. “People have developed new rules for retailers. As a result, retailers must understand the changed role they play in people’s lives and meet their expectations to maintain customer loyalty.”

The study, “Re-Imagining The Retail Store,”  identified five key considerations retailers should keep in mind when implementing new strategies:

DON’T LET TECHNOLOGY UNDERMINE THE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE. Retailers tend to view in-store technologies as a better way to connect with their customers, but customers don’t agree. Yes, people want to experience a seamless transition between the physical and virtual store by using technology, but they also want educated and friendly service when visiting the physical store. Technology is not a suitable substitute and this practice can damage an already fragile relationship.

SHOPPERS ARE PROMISCUOUS. They shop around and their loyalty is hard earned. The recession has taken a toll on consumer confidence and people’s perceptions of retail business. Customer loyalty has to be earned by understanding in detail the expectations of the shopper and delivering every time.

PRICE GETS YOU AN INVITE TO THE PARTY, BUT NOT A VIP PASS. Consumers will not accept a trade-off -- low price versus quality experience and merchandise. Today, people are more than happy not to spend if they feel that retailers do not give them a sufficient reason to purchase.

BREAK THE RULES. If you’re not winning by following the rules, break them. There are two clear ways to win in store-based retailing -- excel within your store archetype or take a radical path to greatness and create a new store format that breaks out of category conventions and delivers a unique experience.

THE BASICS ARE STILL SEXY. It may not be exciting, but there is work to do and profit to be made from making the basics better. Retailers are struggling to get the basics right and people are visibly frustrated. Taking a page from “Retail 101” will help to improve customer appeal, retention and ultimately, profitability.

“The retail landscape continues to evolve and move further away from being just a place to purchase a product,” Treadgold said. “It’s an experience. As retailers listen to their customers and understand their behaviors, they can create an experience that people come back to time and time again.”

© 2014