What to Do Now That the Consumer Is Back in the Driver’s Seat

AMCI Global Future of Retail Reading Time: 5 minutes

We, the consumers, have decided that we want it OUR way and today’s smart sellers are paying attention.

Today’s shopping experience is comparable to how things used to be—when the consumer had more power than the seller. Word of mouth now moves at lightning speed, thanks to technology, and sellers are learning to prioritize their customers over their products.

Previously we wrote about the speculation that surrounds the future of automotive retail. Our advice? Stop speculating! Look at other industries that are taking risks and paving the road to the future of commerce.

We’ve all seen the changes happening around us in the world of retail. Consumers are demanding more control and decision-making power when it comes to purchasing goods and services. We want convenience and personalization, and we expect the same effortless experience at a bricks-and-mortar store as we do with an online shopping experience. We are accustomed to the online world of instant information and now have more of a DIY attitude, allowing us to create our journey rather than letting the retailer dictate the experience for us. Power to the people!

Some retailers have taken notice and have heard us loud and clear. These retailers are shifting their traditional business models and adapting to meet new, and very real, demands. The retailers who can close the gap between the online and offline experience will continue to thrive. Here are a few examples of non-automotive retailers that are blazing a trail for others to follow.

NIKE BY MELROSE – Streamlined Online Experience Meets Premium In-Store Experience

“We’ve got a lot of trust in what our analytics tells us, and we believe that Nike Live is going to lead us forward. As we all know, retail is rapidly changing. As long as we adapt and put our consumers first, we’ll come out ahead.” ~ Cathy Sparks, Global Vice President & General Manager of Nike Direct Stores

AMCI Future of Retail Nike

In July of 2018, Nike opened its new Nike concept store on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. This area has become known as a “retail incubator,” where pop-ups and big brands meet to experiment with products and services to help predict future sales trends.

The store was inspired by and built as a hub for the brand’s NikePlus members; blending their online retail experience with a unique and personalized in-store experience. Specific data from Los Angeles members helped stock the shelves to appeal to local shoppers while only members have access to the rooftop patio, adding more value to joining the “club.”

NORDSTROM LOCAL – A Convenient Drop-In Hub for Service and Style

“As the retail landscape continues to transform at an unprecedented pace, the one thing we know that remains constant is that customers continue to value great service, speed and convenience. We know there are more and more demands on a customer’s time and we wanted to offer our best services in a convenient location to meet their shopping needs. Finding new ways to engage with customers on their terms is more important to us now than ever.” ~ Shea Jensen, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience at Nordstrom

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Nordstrom Local is a great example of a long-standing retailer with hallmark customer service that is looking beyond their traditional model and creating a vastly different retail experience for their customers—and it’s working. Nordstrom has created a convenient service hub for online order pickup, on-site alterations, easy returns, free personal stylists and more. Like Nike, they launched the first Nordstrom Local in Los Angeles on Melrose in October 2017 and have added two more locations in Los Angeles with plans to expand to New York City.

SEPHORA – Personalized Experiences and a Customizable Approach to Beauty

 “In today’s retail environment, where very little is constant and clients’ expectations are ever-evolving, one thing has remained true for Sephora, there is no better way to create meaningful connections with clients than through personalized experiences and a customized approach to beauty. We could not be more focused on that notion than we are with the opening of Sephora Studio. The Studio merges the best of an inclusive neighborhood retail environment with best-in-class digital tools that enable our expert beauty advisors to customize recommendations on an individual basis.” ~ Calvin McDonald, CEO of Sephora Americas

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Another great example of a retail giant taking a leap and evolving their brand to continue to engage with their customers, Sephora Studio is a digitally infused concept store with an emphasis on artistry and skincare services contained within 2,000 square feet of selling space.

The Studio presents clients with an optimized store design and intimate format aimed at fostering personalized connections between shoppers and the store’s beauty advisors. The Studio merges the best of a retail environment with digital tools that enable staff to customize recommendations on an individual basis.

Where’s the “So What” In All of This?

All three of these approaches share a fundamental commonality: They are all TRULY customer-centric! They have put customers’ needs first and built an experience around those needs, rather than on the products or services. Again, it goes back to sellers focusing on their customers, creating more personal relationships and, ultimately, building trust.

At AMCI, we understand the world of retail—especially automotive retail. And as we survey our industry, we see most dealerships operating within the traditional model that we have come to know—and consumers hate. In fact, our Trusted Automotive Brand Study™ shows that there is a direct correlation between customer-centricity and building trust. Even though a few brands are beginning to crack the code, this remains a serious weakness for the industry overall.

There is a glaring opportunity for these automotive brands to change the game and start thinking differently about the way to sell cars to a smarter and more empowered customer. It won’t be easy, but it is inevitable, and for those who haven’t already started, they will undoubtedly run out of gas.

At AMCI, we have a team dedicated to studying the future of retail and learning how to apply leading thinking for the automotive industry. In our next blog, we’ll talk about a practice that is beginning to make inroads into automotive retail with extremely positive results: the Single Point of Contact model of customer service. In April we will release our 2019 Trusted Automotive Brand Study (TABS), findings which will provide further insight on retail innovations. The best in the automotive business are quickly learning and applying many of the ideas in this blog, but there is still plenty of work to be done.

Be the first to know when the 2019 Trusted Automotive Brand Study is published by subscribing to our newsletter, today!

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