In an abandoned munitions depot in North End, Charlotte, I saw down with 5 incredible retailers at an RDI event, whom I likely wouldn’t have met with just 5 years ago.
Kathleen Jordan has been a retail practice area leader for over 20 years, with a bustling Italian food business.
Caleb Clark owns a design firm, retail store, and several online stores.
Taylor Hayden runs Blackstone Shooting Sports, an indoor shooting range and store geared towards gun newbies and novices.
Pam Chanel is the founder of T-Chanelle Designs and a non-profit organization called She is Magic.
Megan Berry turned her university thesis into Reveal, a nomadic retail marketing firm.
In this post, I’m sharing quotes from several group questions.
What is retail and how has it changed?
“Retail used to mean sales. If you think of the metric closest to retail you think of sales per square foot, and now it’s more of the experience per square foot. And now it’s more about brand affinity.” – Megan
“The toughest thing we look at with retail now is how are we moving it from sales per square foot to experience, and working with established retailers, getting them out of their own way, to reframe how to create that experience”. –Kathleen
“You’ve seen in the last 20 years the commoditization of everything. We think we see it mostly in retail, but it’s in legal practices and accounting practices. Everything is being commoditized by easy, ready access to everything online, so what you offer to people has to be more than the product itself.” – Taylor
“I started seeing the writing on the wall when I started selling in Japan. Everything there is an experience with retail. People always want to be a part of something, and when they feel like they’re part of something, it’s going to translate into sales.” – Caleb
Are we in the middle of a Retail Apocalypse or Retail Renaissance?
“Retail Renaissance. It’s not a matter of too much retail square footage, it’s a matter of useless square footage. The concierge experience, like Sephora, is very well utilized. Areas that are absent of education, absent of influence, and there’s only product – that’s useless.” – Megan
What is the most important piece of marketing that you use in your brand?
“Personalization, which can be super-micro or with incredible longevity. The ability to insert a personal element into your brand in whatever capacity is always by far the best.” – Megan
“Influencers, now that we’re in the world of social media. Influencers have been really big for my company as far as building my brand and keeping the word out about what I do.” – Pam
“The Instagrammable-moment is still a big part of retail. Online can be more about connecting with community, and encouraging customer-originated rituals and competitions.” – Kathleen
“We literally have someone come into the coffee shop once a week to buy an ornate $7 visually-appealing coffee just to take photos of it for 5 minutes – and some of them don’t even drink coffee.” – Caleb
“The benefit of experiential as a whole is you reduce your marketing budget. People ‘grass roots’ you, and if you offer a great experience, they tell a friend. It’s old knowledge; it isn’t new, but it’s become more important. Offering a great experience is marketing, in and of itself.” – Taylor
Once you’ve captured a customer, how do you then keep that customer?
“Not forgetting how you got them is the key. If you put together a beautiful, intimate experience and then mass-add attendee emails to your list, you’ve lost them. It’s really important now that everything is hyper-local, and it’s all about these micro-communities.” – Megan
“It’s a helluva lot cheaper to keep a customer than to acquire a new one. You’d be hard-pressed to find any industry where that’s different, so it’s worth the effort.” – Taylor
“Quality, consistency, product. Offering something different and new, but all the while maintaining the consistency of quality throughout is important.” – Kathleen
“If you make a mistake, just own up to it. I’d happily give away double the cost of product experience to retain a customer. If you screw up, take care of it right away.” – Caleb
We dived deeper into the topics of Experiential Retail, Omnichannel Retail, and the evolution of each of my guest’s businesses. Check out the podcast for the jokes about Italian food, leaf blowers, and Top Golf.