I’ve just read an interesting article about how Top Shop is using technology to redesign its stores based on customers’ use of smartphones. Apparently “the system will allow retailers, shopping centres and other venues to gain easier access to customer movement data and to more effectively monetise their assets”. OK – so that’s one way to know Customers better: as some supermarket chains are also doing, you can use technology to monitor their movements, and what, and when, they buy. Then you can realign your store accordingly.
The problem with that approach, is that you will learn what they buy, but not why they buy. So that brings me to the second approach, and one inspired by the seminal (and yes, that word is justified in this case) book by Paco Underhill, entitled, as it happens, “Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping”. This book inspired me in my early retailing days, and although it refers to the science of shopping, the application of Underhill’s approach was initially little to do with technology and everything to do with observing Customers and understanding what motivates them to buy, and, as importantly, what deters them from buying. Just Google “butt-brush effect” and you’ll get a flavour of this approach.
The third approach is what I call, Customer Profiling, also known as Psychographics. I like this approach best because it gets closest to understanding what it feels like to be in our Customers’ minds – to understand their aspirations, their dreams, and thus to be able to tailor our stores and interactions to create a genuinely personalised buying experience. One of my mentors – a man who founded two innovative, unique and highly successful retail brands – once told me that he thought about his Customers best in the magazine department of W.H.Smith. Here he could visualise everything about his Customers: from their lifestyle to their attitudes, and from the language they used to the fonts and colours they preferred.
So there we have it: three ways to know your Customers better:
- Tracking their movements – what they buy
- Observing their behaviour – why they buy
- Studying their attitudes – how they buy
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