Our last blog kicked off a series exploring the in-store experience. We urge you to read it if you’re at all interested in learning more about the topic of merchandising. It’s pretty good, and we’re not saying it because we wrote it! As for this week, if the title didn’t tip you off, this blog focuses on the retail ecosystem. You’ll notice we not only researched outside sources for the piece, but reached from within VoiceComm’s deep bench of professional sales people to bring you exclusive insight not found anywhere else on the ‘net. Enjoy!
According to Dictionary.com, an ecosystem is “a system, or a group of interconnected elements, formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their environment.” Think of your retail store or stores in the same vein. When it comes to mobile accessory retail ecosystems there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, but we recognize two main types: Store within a Store (SWAS) and Device Specific. When our partners approach us for guidance we usually recommend the SWAS ecosystem over Device Specific. “SWAS ecosystems tend to provide customers with a high-end, premium experience,” said Rich Downs, Senior Account Executive, VoiceComm. “When properly implemented, SWAS ecosystems are like the greatest showrooms you’ve ever stepped into; there’s an immediate, impactful impression that almost assures a positive sales outcome.” Sandy Ardery, Director of Strategic Planning, VoiceComm, added “In order to support the ecosystem in previous positions I’ve held we built them around every lifestyle, every port, and part of a device. For instance, the AUX input would represent wired headsets, wired speakers, and AUX cables. A power input would highlight portable chargers, home, car, and data cables.”
As we mentioned, while we may favor one ecosystem over another there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Jeff Summerfeld, Senior Account Executive, VoiceComm, has a slightly different approach to building a retail ecosystem. “I would encourage a store owner to evaluate how they intend to sell and build their ecosystem around that method. Their way of conversing with customers sets the stage – or the store – in this case.” Mr. Summerfeld went on to stress “Choosing the right ecosystem also depends on the size of your operation and the type of products or packages you’re selling. If you specialize in bundling accessories your ecosystem will be different versus more device-driven stores.”
Great advice and insight from members of our wonderful sales team, but there are things you want to avoid in building a retail ecosystem as well. According to Entrepreneur, “Many retailers don’t notice poorly designed areas of their stores until it’s too late.” They go on to detail seven common mistakes some retailers tend to make, some of which are highlighted below.
- Dysfunctional decompression zones. The first few feet of a store are often referred to as the decompression zone, an entry area customers use to “decompress” or adjust to the new space. Critical as this first impression is, shop owners often clutter this space with merchandise, says Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping (Simon & Schuster, 2000). “By the time the person is starting to engage with the physical environment,” he says, “some of the stuff you’ve put by the door is blown past.” He suggests displaying a few key items and using lighting and flooring that contrast with the outside environment. The shift in colors and textures will alert customers to slow down and notice what’s around them. Suzi West, owner of Collier West, a Brooklyn, N.Y., home décor store, keeps the front door open and places products on the curb outside to help customers adjust to her store’s ambiance even before they walk in.
- Overcrowded merchandise. Resist the urge to display too much merchandise in one area–a mistake retailers often make. “If you walk in and everything is dense, visually it’s exhausting,” Carpenter says. West recently opted to arrange a table with a place setting rather than stacking it with items. Within hours, she rang up $800 in sales from that table’s merchandise.
- Unappealing sight lines. Watch out for unexpected and unsightly views your customers might encounter while shopping. Corkill still vividly remember walking into a bike shop years ago and spotting an open bathroom with a lifted toilet seat. She suggests hiding less-than-savory spaces with screens or curtains instead of traditional doors that require extra space for opening.
We hope this blog leaves you with better insight into the dos and don’ts of retail ecosystems. We thank our topnotch and tireless sales team for their wonderful contributions, and urge you to subscribe to ensure you don’t miss the next blog in our in-store experience series.