Consumers demand curated solutions

April 15, 2019By Future of Retail, Views

By Dave Wendland, vice president strategic relations, as seen in Drug Store News

As retail undergoes dramatic changes, stores are struggling to figure out how to quickly right the ship. The decline in traffic and rise in e-commerce are putting pressure on traditional brick-and-mortar stores, causing many to adopt a strategy that creates personalized experiences for customers.

This “experience” is manifesting in a myriad of ways: from remodeled interior spaces and engaging promotions to integration of other lifestyle categories and customized products. As consumer spending habits change and shift toward the consumption of experiences rather than things, I believe this focus will succeed.

Despite efforts around omnichannel (a term I’ve never really latched onto … viewing a retail operation through one holistic lens remains most effective), BOPIS (buy online and pick up in store), autonomous delivery (definitely on the rise), cashier-less checkout (except in New Jersey perhaps), most retailers are not pushing the envelope enough when it comes to overall customer experience.

Traditional — or as I have inferred previously — “establishment” retail focuses on such in-store basics as categorization by type, product assortment and planogram execution, in-stock condition, and staff training. What has been elusive across much of retail has been rich product alignment based on customer needs and organization that is more purposeful and directed. Certainly, knowledgeable staff and a high degree of service will remain essential in the future, but the integration of technology and the reimagining of store merchandising will be required to deliver the experience shoppers expect.

It is my belief that more is not better. The majority of today’s customers do not want huge shopping areas to traverse, taking so much time and energy to explore that they exit exasperated and dissatisfied. Rather, they want something more convenient, easier to navigate and more memorable. This type of space lends itself to thoughtfully curated collections of merchandise that reflect a certain mood, fee, and lifestyle arranged together.

Properly executed, a curated customer experience can provide streamlined, pleasing and memorable trips. As you will see in future articles I plan to provide Drug Store News throughout the year, this concept is not new, but it is gaining in relevancy because retailers are able to do more with less. This transformation, when executed well, will deliver more meaningful curated collections, driving more personalization and brand relevancy with consumers.