Lessons from a lucrative housing market

July 25, 2018By Future of Retail, Views


By Dave Wendland for Drug Store News 

Not unlike other communities across America, the Milwaukee metro area where I reside has been experiencing a real estate boom. Homebuyers are over-bidding on the asking prices of homes in the most desirable area of town and sellers barely have time enough to put a sign in the ground before a contract is underway.

Comparing the demand and speedy sales of the home market with the glut of retailers in our country and their tit-for-tat activities to attract and retain customers, I devised three lessons that retailers could learn from the home-buying craze.

Lesson one: Curb appeal
Any real estate agent will tell you that one of the most important factors in selling a home is to ensure the landscaping and view from the street is stellar. Passersby must find the appearance appealing, inviting, and well-kept or they will simply pass by.

The same is true with brick-and-mortar retailers (and I contest this applies to e-commerce also). The first impression – the view from the street — must literally set the tone for the shopper and invite them to enter. Visual elements include the street sign, the windows, the entryway, the parking lot, the condition of the building, and the landscaping.

Taking a lesson from one of the happiest places on Earth, Disney certainly understands the importance of first impressions, which they realize begins in their parking lot. That’s one of the reasons they created a management structure that places significant importance on this area of their operation.

Lesson two: Buff and polish
Think of the time or times you may have prepared your home for sale. Your real estate adviser likely suggested you repaint walls with neutral tones, arrange furniture to open up the floorplan and clean the carpets and flooring to restore their luster. Why? Because potential buyers appreciate a fresh, bright look.

Why wouldn’t the same attention be given to improving the freshness of the interior within a brick-and-mortar retail operation? Sadly, I’ve seen more than my share of sloppy floors, poor lighting, and generally disheveled retail aisles. It’s a turn off and suggests that the operator doesn’t care enough about their customers to perform daily housekeeping to ensure a top-notch experience. (And don’t even get me started on the appearance of some staff I have encountered.)

My advice is to commit to a buffed-and-polished customer experience every day. In fact, I’m a proponent of prepping the store as if every day was a grand opening.

Lesson three: Neighborhood
It’s been said that you can’t pick your neighbors. This is certainly true when selecting a home so instead, consideration is given to factors such as schools, location, crime, and amenities. However, getting acquainted with the people that live in your neighborhood generally occurs at some point after the move.

For retailers, becoming rooted in the community should be a continual goal. Neighborhoods evolve, demographics shift, and health needs change. Retailers can differentiate themselves and stand out by not only remaining involved in local activities, but also adjusting where necessary to cater to the ever-changing requirements of the consumer population.

So, there you have it, three lessons from the housing market that retailers should take to heart. Dare miss one of these critical elements and run the risk of diminishing customer loyalty and losing out on prospective new customers to competition better prepared and committed to serving their needs.