Snap Into the Customer Convenience Mindset
SAP demonstrated a concept consumer app called “Snap” at its recent Retail Forum in Dallas. Snap provides customers with interactive 3-D assembly instructions for a vast array of products. The instructions are pulled from manufacturer CAD files and delivered via cloud after the customer scans a product barcode or QR code, with options such as zoom and audio. Snap even lets shoppers register products for warranties and automatically request replacement parts.
Snap is one of those ideas that makes you say to yourself “Why didn’t someone else already think of this? It’s so obvious.” SAP deserves all the credit in the world for developing what looks like it would quickly become a smash hit with consumers when and if it gets put into general release, but there is a very specific reason why nobody else in the retail IT community thought of Snap before now. Retailers seek solutions that help consumers spend money rather than solutions that help consumers. And what retailers seek, vendors help them find.
The Convenient Approach
Retailers need to get away from the mindset of designing solutions with the direct intent of increasing customer spending and toward the mindset of designing solutions with the direct intent of increasing customer convenience. Done correctly, there will be an increase in customer loyalty that will lead to better and longer-lasting spending increases than any solution simply designed to get shoppers to buy more and costlier items.
Let’s look again at the Snap concept to demonstrate exactly what I mean. Products that require assembly are a near-universal consumer nightmare. Even handy types do not look forward to reviewing poorly written and illustrated directions and sorting through countless parts, components and specialty tools (it seems every “assembly required” product comes with at least one proprietary tool you will never use again) in an attempt to create a finished product that matches the store display or picture on the box.
However, Snap applies advanced 3-D. mobile and cloud technology not to convince a customer to buy the product beforehand, but to make the post-sale experience much more convenient. The retailer does not generate any immediate additional revenue as a result. But here’s what does result:
Instead of tweeting about how awful their post-sale assembly experience was, the customer tweets about how easy and stress-free it was. The customer is less likely to return the product, especially in a damaged or half-assembled state. Beyond general feelings of goodwill toward the retailer, the customer also will be more likely to buy products requiring assembly, which are often big ticket, low volume items like large appliances and furniture, in the future.
Easy Experience Now, Hard Profits Later
It’s hard to place an exact dollar amount on these types of results, but it may well exceed the return on a simple cross-sell application. By no means am I suggesting retailers stop investing in solutions, such as cross-sell and upsell applications, which directly boost revenue at the POS. I am suggesting, however, they widen their mindsets to complement these types of solutions with solutions that focus on convenience first and let the profits follow. Also remember that not all convenience is mobile, but all mobile is convenience.
Chico’s FAS enters Canada with White House Black Market
New York — Chico’s FAS is expanding outside of the United States, opening a White House | Black Market store at Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Toronto on Oct. 24. The women’s apparel retailer will open its second Canadian location at Square One, Mississauga on Oct. 29, followed by Upper Canada Mall, Newmarket on Nov. 12.
Yorkdale Shopping Centre and Square One are owned by Oxford Properties Group and Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo).Upper Canada Mall is owned by Oxford Properties Group and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB).
The store front design at Yorkdale Shopping Centre will include a mix of design elements and materials including white Carrara marble, polished chrome, black lacquer panels, striped fabric awnings, and an oversized cut-crystal chandelier.
The interior of the White House | Black Market boutiques will have an over-arching black-and-white palette that incorporates currated finishes including wood and marble floors, beautiful crystal chandeliers and sconces, mirrored accents, striped satin draperies and velvet upholstery. The furniture selection combines lacquered wood, polished chrome, molded aluminum, marble and glass.
"We believe Canada is a great first foray into the international arena for Chico’s FAS, as it represents a natural extension of our brands," said David Dyer, president and CEO of Chico’s FAS, Inc. "From our robust customer file, we already know that there are a significant number of Chico’s FAS customers in Canada."
Saks’ Chicago flagship to devote two floors to new in-store men’s format, The Fifth Man
New York — Saks Fifth Avenue in January 2014 will unveil its renovated men’s store in its Chicago flagship on Michigan Avenue. The renovation will encompass a total redesign of floors six and seven, creating an open environment that will be easily accessed by a new express elevator that will take passengers directly to the men’s floors.
Saks is calling its new in-store men shop The Fifth Man, short for “The Saks Fifth Avenue Man.” Designed by Saks Fifth Avenue in collaboration with luxury retail designers Jeffery Hutchison & Associates, the renovated space will be home to commissioned, revolving art installations, high-end amenities and more. Nine large floor-to ceiling-vitrines are strategically placed on both floors, spotlighting collection highlights. Both floors are softened with residential-style touches including mixed-oak plank flooring from the Netherlands, mid-century modern architectural touches, and an eclectic collection of classic and contemporary furniture.
The sixth floor will feature a classic and clubby environment with a warm, rich material pallet of brass and bronze metals, cerused oak and handmade wall coverings inspired by men’s suiting fabrics. The offerings will include an ever-evolving assortment of luxury brands, the latest prototype shop for the exclusive Saks Fifth Avenue Men’s Collection, and a customized area for made-to-measure suiting. Other highlights include an expansive new shoe shop that extends through an open ceiling linking floors six and seven.
The seventh floor will be a contemporary environment inspired by the great modern architecture pioneers of Chicago such as Mies Van der Rohe and Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill with materials and details that allude to industrial media. Raw and blackened steel, gray cerused oak and wall coverings feel inspired by the machine age.
The space on seven will include designer sportswear and a revamped denim offering. It will also feature a new restaurant and bar, called Sophie’s, which will boast expansive views of the Magnificent Mile. The new restaurant was inspired by American fashion designer Sophie Gimbel, the iconic arbiter of style at Saks for nearly 40 years. Award-winning architect Andre Kikoski was selected to create the sleek, contemporary design that will define the Sophie’s aesthetic.
“Saks is thrilled to offer our customers exciting new lifestyle shopping experiences all under one roof,” says Tom Ott, senior VP and GMM for men’s, home and gifts at Saks Fifth Avenue. “The greatly expanded men’s shoe salon, the deeper focus on designer and denim and the open shopping environment are sure to make Chicago’s Fifth Man a unique shopping destination.”