I was shopping in the Century City Mall yesterday here in LA. Great place, all outdoors, beautiful LA fall day and the mall was hopping.
Most stores were busy. But a few stores didn’t seem to be busy at all. One of those stores was Talbot’s. In taking a look inside, there wasn’t one customer (cue the sound of crickets please).
I thought to myself, who shops there anyway? It seems so grandmotherly and proper and the red and gold logo smacks of buttoned-down conservative dress. Maybe there’s more there than the logo and front windows indicate.
And then I read this morning that Talbot’s has hired an unidentified retail consultant to help them figure out how to be more relevant to their core 35+ target.
THE REAL WORLD TAKEAWAY
Talbot’s is going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants who are going to help them figure out what’s missing from their experience.
Go back to a post from months ago titled It’s the Merchandise Stupid. The first reason people stop shopping is because the merchandise isn’t relevant to them. Hello GAP.
But there’s more. If you’re not currently connected with your customers, or if you want to connect better, then just ask them what they would like in your store experience.
You can go about this two ways.
The first way is to conduct an online survey and send it out to your database. There are simple sites like surveymonkey.com where you can setup an online survey for very little money.
Secondly, you can just do it the old-fashioned way. Ask. Take a page from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. When customers check out, they ask, “Did you find everything your were looking for?” It’s a nice question but on several occasions, I’ve said, no, I was looking for “X”. They didn’t write it down or otherwise give that valuable information to anyone.
Ask the question, and then do something with the information. If it really is about the merchandise, then the first question you should ask is, “Were there any products you were looking for that you would like us to carry?” That will tell you a lot. And make sure all of your associates know to track the responses as well.
If you want to go more in-depth, then do an online survey. You can ask a multitude of questions that may help guide your merchandising and other decisions. To tackle the question from above, you would simply do a little research in advance, find the 10 hot brands you don’t carry, then ask your customers which three they’d most like you to carry. Let their input help guide your merchandising decisions.
Talk to your customers, either in person or in an online survey. Then do something with the results. If you do, I promise their input will be valuable and help give you some direction when making decisions about your business.