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Posts from the ‘SHOPPING TALES’ Category

Generally Speaking

TECHNOLOGY TRAPS

It’s a commonly held belief that technology has greatly enhanced our daily shopping experiences. Case studies often site Gucci or Burberry as examples of fashion brands that have been able to successfully incorporate social media and in-store technology platforms, in conjunction with our prolific use of smart phones to offer consumers a more enjoyable and seamless experience. Generally speaking, (as in this case) the majority of fashion retailers appear to be struggling in their attempts to incorporate tablets and other devices into their sales ceremony. It’s fairly safe to say that my interaction at the Bondi Beach GENERAL PANTS store this week was a definite example of when technology goes wrong.

For 2OPINIONATED followers who don’t live in Australia – General Pants Co is a multi-branded youth retailer with 47 stores Australia wide.

Allow me to set the scene for you. I was with a girlfriend who lives overseas and we were en- route to one of her favourite Bondi shopping destinations TUCHUZY. Walking past the General Pants window below my friend, THE TRAVELING STYLISTA noticed that they were having a promotion on Cheap Monday, having already bought the brand before she was  keen to pick up a replacement pair of jeans.

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So at first blush…. it seems like a positive interaction…consumers (in this case a fairly qualified lead) respond to the current promotional activity and as a result head in-store to explore . The Traveling Stylista went off in search of some denim and I started to play with the kiosk station pictured below.

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There were two staff members on the floor at the time and we were the only customers in the store. One staff member was unpacking stock at the back of the store and was largely uninterested in assisting us. The other was deep in conversation with a friend in the doorway of the shop. As she chatted endlessly with her chum I thought I would check out how this savvy retailer was incorporating technology platforms in their stores.

In my browsing I was able to view the Cheap Monday promotion, visit the full General Pants website, see staff from other stores and also upload and post up an image of myself in the store. All in all, interactions one would imagine were designed to make me feel like a fully qualified member of the General Pants Community.

I would have spent at least 5 minutes by myself playing on the tablet and then at the conclusion of her socialising I was finally officially greeted by a staff member. Here’s where the experience gets interesting or disappointing as the case may be.

Traditionally retailers have used swing tags and in-stores displays to be the ‘silent salesperson’ to assist customers in making their purchases and these days tablets are increasingly taking the place of these tools. Used effectively technology can:

  • support the sales staff
  • educate the consumer
  • enhance the customer experience
  • increase customer engagement
  • or simply entertain

…they should never be, (as in this case) viewed as a substitute for actual customer service !

On seeing me using the device this staff member saw it as an opportunity to ignore me rather than use this interaction as a tool the further engage me. What a wasted opportunity! Rather than direct our conversation away from the usual boring remarks on the weather or asking if I ‘had the day off today’ there was an opportunity to create something more meaningful and potentially much more fun. Tablets are a fantastic way to assist staff in effectively telling the brand story and a clear way of differentiating their offering from that of their competitors.

These days retail is all about entertainment…the stores are our new stages. This particular entertainer could have easily chosen to use this ‘prop’ to more effectively engage me by simply asking one of the following questions;

  1. ‘Have you used the kiosks in our stores before’?
  2. ‘Can I show you my favourite photo/top/feature on the General Pants site’?
  3. ‘Have you bought online from us before’?
  4. ‘Make sure you follow us on Facebook or Instagram to keep up to date with our latest promotions and deliveries’
  5. ‘ Why don’t we take a photo together and post it up to the site’

Any of these questions would have made me want to linger longer in the store and the longer a customer lingers in your store the more likely they are to make a purchase. In the current competitive environment consumer expectations are high and if you want a customer to spend money in a physical store these days your sales staff need to be more than merely cashiers.

During this time my friend had gone into the change room. The jeans were not available in any of the 3 colour ways in her size (she’s a pretty standard size). Given that this was the key promotion for General Pants this week this is clearly a sign of poor planning. Rather than walk my friend over to the station and show her how to order the jeans on the tablet the staff member suggested my friend visit another store (with no actual offer of calling the store to check if they were available before sending us there).

The screenshot below is from the General Pants website and it really indicates the missed opportunity here;

  1. Firstly, had we been alerted to the fact that we could order the jeans in the store itself the jeans would have been shipped that day…for free even! It would have been a quick easy transaction that would have saved us time and we would have appreciated the tip.
  2. Secondly, General Pants ships internationally. My friend had already indicated to the sales staff that she lives overseas. She lives in Asia where sizing is small and she is always looking for new retailers who will ship there. In communicating this fact the staff could have created a profitable ongoing relationship between General Pants and my friend.
  3. Thirdly, my friend is an avid social media user. Living in Asia, she has over 21, 000 followers on Facebook alone. She regularly buys items as a result of social media posts and always shares her selections with her followers.

GP screen Shot

 

 

I may be calling out General Pants on this issue but the reality is that this problem is widespread in Australian. They way sales staff approach customers in store has not evolved in the way the sales process itself has. Consumers can now access your brand on several different platforms but sales staff are still measured on the performance of their individual stores and there is therefore no incentive for them to assist you in building a stronger relationship with the organisation as whole.

I have a  background in retail training – so it’s no surprise that 9 times out of 10 my solution to any problem like this would be additional staff training. But the fact of the matter is that the sales process has evolved dramatically over the past few years. We used to train sales staff to “close’ the sale but these days you never want to “close” the sale. So rather than “closing the sale’ retailers need to train their staff to be capable of building an ongoing relationship with consumers on as many platforms as possible and in this instance the General Pants sales staff lacked the skills in which to do this. Consumers are obviously capable of looking up the General Pants site and finding their Instagram account themselves but its much more powerful and compelling to be walked through this process by an enthusiastic staff member and why not use the technology tools in-store to actually guarantee the sale? The right training would allow the General Pants staff to view these devices not just as visual merchandising but rather as a tool to assist them in reaching their sales targets.

Community Gp

The in-store tablets and their website ask you for your #INSTA OPINION. So here goes…for the crew at the Bondi Beach store my 2OPINIONATED opinion on this #generalpants interaction is that it gets the THUMBS DOWN !

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A 2OPINIONATED RATING OF – Powerless ★ ★

 HANNAH BROOKS

Loving Lanvin

PICK A COLOUR ANY COLOUR

Another example of Parisian perfection.

I absolutely loved these Lanvin windows. Bold, bright and beautiful – such a simple concept, executed to perfection.

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All in all… a total call to action. I’m feeing the purchasing power of these displays.

ARE YOU FEELING THE LANVIN LOVE AS WELL?

The Power of Paris

WINDOW DRESSING WITH DIOR

Let’s face it – there is no other city in the world quite like Paris. Nothing compares to wandering the streets of Paris if you’re seeking to be seriously inspired !

For luxury brands; the brands actual ‘country of origin’ is intrinsically linked to the brand personality and ultimately has a significant impact on the brands ongoing campaign development. 2OPINIONATED has often examined how effective leading brands are in delivering on their ‘print to purchase’ experience and over the next few weeks I’m going to share my in-store experiences from my recent trip to France.

Many moments from my trip to Paris inspired me, several moved me and some moments made me question the strategies of some of the worlds most recognisable brands.

CASE NO: 1 – DIOR DELIVERS

What’s not to love about the Dior display below?

Look closely and you will see that the handbags are made up entirely of Dior lipsticks (simple, yet effective). I love the way this display cleverly combined two of the Dior’s key merchandise categories, visually it actually drew you in from the other side of the street and it was seriously interesting to observe how consumers interacted with the display.

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This display comes on the tail end of the Dior Rouge Fall/Winter 13/14 Campaign featuring Natalie Portman as seen below.

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to find out more about the making of this campaign please watch the clip below

This Paris moment indicated to me that there were true synergies between all the consumer touch points with the Dior brand. This window display and the corresponding print campaign truly speaks to the well-known fact that – a new red lippy can change your mood…make your day…or change your life!

In fact, Dior’s Zinnia Red Lipstick was previously featured as one of my 2OPINIONATED Life Changing Purchases (LCP).

When applying the 2OPINIONATED 5 P’s of SHOPPING; Dior delivers both in terms of personality, production value and successfully delivering on their brand promise. What’s more, in combination all these factors ultimately represented a call to action.

I’m giving this visit to the Dior Rue Saint Honore store in Paris  a rare 2OPINIONATED 5 star rating – serious purchasing power!

Perfection ★★★★★  

 

A FEW OF MY FAVOURITE THINGS

BALI BOUND

My close friend Rodney Hinde has often made the comment that resort wear is my particular style niche. I suppose it’s true…I really get this category and I do take my holiday wardrobe pretty seriously. It’s quite probable that I dress much better for my annual holiday than I ever do in everyday life.

I guess I work well with a theme!

So a change of tone I thought I would share some of favourite pieces from the Australian resort collections. Starting with my new favourite Life Changing Purchase…(LCP)

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To suggest this selection is from the”collections” may appear be a tad grandiose. This hat, is actually from a local chain store called Sportsgirl. At  29.95 its a total steal and its going to work extremely well with my colour theme for Bali. Read more

JUST SAY NO

ORTHOPAEDIC FOOTWEAR

We’re having an early start to summer here in Sydney and as the temperature is rising, so too is my concern for mental health of Sydney’s well- heeled . I know all our American and European 2OPINIONATED readers have already lived through the horror of a summer of orthopaedic sandals-  but I was kind of hoping that Australian consumers would’ just say no’ to this hideous trend.

CELINE, MARNI, thongs of a thousand fingers, Birkenstocks or the dreaded Crocs, I can’t tell the difference. As Joan, Kelly, Giuliana and George from ‘Fashion Police’ would say – MAKE IT STOP ! Read more

TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY?

COULD THIS BE MY NEXT LCP (LIFE CHANGING PURCHASE) ?

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Read more

#firstworldproblems…sorry we mean #firstworldproduction

SUPPORTING LOCAL LABELS

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On a recent shopping expedition I was seriously surprised to discover that Supre produces some of their garments locally. For the benefit of the 2OPINIONATED readers who don’t live in Australia SUPRE is a youth chain store. It’s a bottom-tier retailer and to give you some background on the brand… bear in mind that this T only retails for $12.95. I suppose I was even more surprised to discover that a ‘bring jobs back home’ campaign would resonate with younger consumers.

Ever since consumers started to care what conditions workers actually had to endure to produce a T that retails for $12.95 there has been a trend back towards First World production. Savvy retailers realised that there was a consumer who was prepared to pay a premium price for a product produced in ethical and/or regulated environments  but I have to say that I would have presumed two factors in relation to this trend Read more

More tales from NYC with Faith Wignall

Behind the scenes at Jason Wu NYFW

Faith Wignall shares with 2OPINIONATED her observations and the fun times in New York during Fashion Week…

On Friday evening I had the good fortune to be invited to not one but two Jason Wu events.

This is thanks to my dear friend who works on various projects for Mr Wu, so I was able to tag along and be her plus one.

Read more

2OPINIONATED goes global!

Introducing our first guest editor – Faith Wignall

Our apologies – it’s been a long time between drinks. We have been spending some time thinking how we could improve the 2OPINIONATED experience and we have finally decided we need some more opinions!

Faith Wignall is the first in our new team of guest editors. Every six weeks you will hear the opinions from one of our new 2OPINIONATED experts.
‘I have known for Faith for years. She has impeccable taste, meticulous researching skills and is never short of an opinion – perfect credentials for a 2OPINIONATED crew member.’ – Hannah Brooks

This week Faith is reporting from New York. For everyone who wishes they had been in NYC for Fashion’s Night Out or covert a seat at a show at NY Fashion week…lets live vicariously through Faith! I’m sure you will look forward to Faith’s posts this week as she pursues the perfect shopping moments in NYC.

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Just to get you excited about fall fashion

LOUIS VUITTON FALL/WINTER 2012-2013

Heres a little 2OPINIONATED preview of the LV Fall/Winter 2012-2013 campaign shot by Steven Meisel.

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