May 22/29, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 25
By Lisbeth Calandrino
Recently, my friend Barb introduced me to her new friend, Alexa. Alexa is the kind of friend we’d all like to have. She knows your favorite music, can tell time and predict the weather, and she can even automatically turn the lights in your house on and off. She’s like Siri, only smarter and comes with better connections.
Once Alexa gets to know your favorite music, she will create a personalized playlist. I was familiar with Siri but Alexa was new to me, so I did some research. Eventually, Alexa will even be able to call 911 for you. There are endless security possibilities.
It’s likely that Alexa will be used to automatically order things. Suppose you asked Alexa to call the drug store for you and order paper towels. All you have to do is ask Alexa to order the same ones you did the previous time and it’s done. The more things you program into Alexa, the less you will have to do.
For retailers or manufacturers, getting programmed into Alexa is the next big thing. Will retailers be vying for “Alexa space” similar to “shelf space” in supermarkets? The more things programmed into Alexa the less there is to think about. It remains to be seen how this will affect retailers, but the implications for manufacturers have already started. Ford Motor Co. recently announced that its Sync 3 infotainment systems will enable in-vehicle applications.
We’ve already seen the effects disruptive trends have had on store closings. Let’s face it, shopping just isn’t the national pastime it used to be. Shopping malls are changing because buyers have changed. Malls are being transformed into destinations for possible buyers.
As the population ages, living closer to conveniences such as grocery stores, the gym and doctors becomes ever more important. In 2014, José de Jesús Legaspi, a Mexican-American commercial developer, bought several defunct malls and turned them into destinations for the Latino community. “I try to create a sense of community, a sense of culture,” Legaspi said. These malls are now thriving.
The malls that are successful are those with mixed occupancy, including health clubs and travel agencies. Why are some malls having such a hard time? A big problem is lack of differentiation. If you’ve been in one Macy’s, you’ve seen everything there is to see and probably know its sales discount cycle. No one wants to pay full price and then find the same items on sale two weeks later.
In today’s marketplace, it’s all about experiences for the customers. What does this mean for your store?
Start thinking about your customers and their lifestyles. Bloomingdales shows yoga movies and invites customers to yoga classes; afterwards shoppers are invited to pick up a pair of leggings. Why not do something similar in your store?
What about this? “Monica Bill Barnes & Co. has reimagined the museum tour, creating a physical way for audiences to relate to the finest art in the world.” Tours are booked through December, with a price tag of $75.
Can you see your store as a destination? Is your parking lot big enough to host a farmer’s market this summer? Can you co-market with a plant nursery? What about having cooking classes, music classes or even a cigar night?
How can you make your store or buying more convenient for the customer? Can customers book appointments with your staff? How about offering design workshops and color classes for your customers?
Remember, it’s all about convenience, entertainment and making your store a destination.