Convenience and Customization – No longer mutually exclusive
Consumers today are not as homogeneous as they used to be. It is becoming harder and harder to put them in large clusters with similar needs or desires. Everyone today wants to stand out and not follow the crowd. Consumers are exploring different facets of themselves and are spending on things that add to their online reputation as much as their offline personality. As a result of this heterogeneity, nano segments have emerged and personalization is at the heart of it. This trend in consumer buying behaviour has led to brands adopting mass customization strategies to survive and Alexa, Fit Bit, and Netflix are all mass personalized products, feeding this new trend.
In the retail world, this is being achieved with the marriage of the brick-and-mortar experience and the digital experience. Retail stores are now innovating to create an environment of convenience and customization under one roof. Two words that never went alongside in the past. One could either make a convenient choice or go for customization. Today you can do both!
Nordstrom – Digitally inspired
Credit: Getty Images by Spencer Platt
Nordstrom entered 2019 with innovations that make their stores worth a visit. Self-service was once limited to a check-out counter, however, Nordstrom took this a step further with self-service return bins, that allow customers to drop off products at the store and get store credits instantly. Similarly, they have a feature called ‘Scan and Shop’ where users can upload pictures of products on the app and find similar products available. These features provide ease and convenience which encourages customers to shop in-store while being assisted by the app. When it comes to customer service, it is essential to make sure that customers are truly satisfied with the brand. Nordstrom understood this and teamed up with Bevy-up, a retail technology company; together they came up with an employee app that allows Nordstrom’s personal stylists to send customers product suggestions, based on the previously bought items. Nordstrom customers, not only have a variety of products to choose from, but also a stylist that can help them pick out items based on their personal style.
The last, but a brilliant concept by Nordstrom, is the Nordstrom Local Store. You can’t quite call it a store, it’s more of a service center where customers can pick-up and drop-off items, and get them tailored. The brand has truly made sure that their customers are guaranteed quality service and a seamless retail experience. Nordstrom isn’t the only one though. Next, let’s take a look at Nike’s House of Innovation.
NIKE – THE FLAGSHIP STORES
Credit: Cara Saplini for Retail Dive
Nike has two flagship stores, one in New York, the other in Shanghai. These stores are designed unlike any other Nike outlets. At the store, customers are first intrigued by the Nike Arena section, a customization room where one can modify the artistic features of a shoe. They then come across the Beacon, a large structure with screens featuring the latest products worn by athletes. From here, customers can go to the bottom floor where they can check out and try on shoes and apparel. It doesn’t end here though. The five-storey outlet also has a section to customize apparel and an area where they can see all the latest shoe collections along with prototypes of
LeBron James’ latest shoes. The brand is offering customers a whole-rounded experience.
Remember NikePlus? It’s Nike’s app, and the brand has managed to make it even more popular through its flagship stores. Trying out shoes and apparel couldn’t get easier. Customers can use the app to scan QR codes on mannequins to find out details about the product. They can even request a specific size or colour to try on. At this point, Nike employees will locate the item and bring it to the fitting-rooms for customers. Once customers are done selecting items, they can simply use Nike’s checkout kiosks and complete their payments through the NikePlus app. For the most part, Nike’s House of Innovation aims to tell a story, the story behind Nike’s inspiration to innovate and take the brand to great heights. The Nike and Nordstrom stores represent a whole new era of retail. One where a store does so much more than selling products, and where apps and other technology work alongside a physical store to provide customers with a memorable experience. Customers don’t just buy products, they learn about the brand, experience unique services, and get to craft their products to suit them perfectly. Nike and Nordstrom are just two of the many brands that have understood the way customers think, their purchase journey, and what they expect.
Brands are trying their best to listen, customize, and pre-empt consumer needs and wants, and the retail industry is leading the way.