Retail: the store, pillar of proof for the customer

Within omnichannel journeys counting ever more points of contact (we have gone in 10 years from 2 to 6 points of contact per purchase journey on average), retail must be thought of as a benchmark for the customer. The moment spent in store must be THE moment of truth for the customer.(…)

It is easier on a digital interface to present the product in its best light, to erase unsightly aspects, or even to give a representation of it that is not totally in tune with reality. Who has never been disappointed when receiving an online purchase? The material, the cut, the size, the quality of the finishes do not correspond to the image that we had made of the product.

This is where the strength of retail lies: impossible to cheat in front of the customer ! In stores, I can see everything, touch everything, smell everything, try everything. Moreover, almost half of consumers regretted during confinement that they could no longer touch and test products in stores (source: Mood Media 2021 study). And if doubts remain as to the manufacture, the provenance, the origin of the material or the working conditions, I can find out more from the adviser.

Prove the qualities put forward

(…) The pillar of proof must allow the mark to demonstrate product superiority and therefore leave the possibility to everyone to check it. Ikea had installed a crash test cabin in its stores for one of its office chairs. Within a glass cage, an armchair was subjected to the action of a piston (reproducing the pressure exerted by a person who sits on it) and a digital counter displayed the number of actions already exerted on the armchair. It was enough to cross the tens of thousands of actions displayed in the perfect state of the armchair to be convinced of the high quality of the product. Successful proof experiment! (…)

Similarly, when a brand advocates an eco-responsible approach throughout social networks or communication campaigns, isn’t the customer entitled to demand proof of his commitments? Indeed, customers expect brands to provide tangible proof of their commitment. A level of customer demand that rises as brand initiatives multiply, whether in luxury, fast-fashion or cosmetics. In what ways does the brand engage concretely throughout the process? What impact does my purchase represent in this global commitment? The customer is also entitled to know the part he plays in the action initiated and, by extension, to understand his own impact.

But beyond the product, is the brand’s retail consistent with the brand’s message? Is the electricity green? Does the layout of the shops use local materials, which are recyclable or made from recycled materials? How are waste from the production and overall operation of the brand’s activity managed?

A consumer-actor in search of meaning

Buying is no longer an insignificant act but a civic act, a quasi-political approach. The consumer actor is in search of meaning and claims the right to choose a brand for what it is but also for what it does or does not do; especially for the planet.

The more the experience of presenting the product is holistic (that is to say, it appeals to the senses, the intellect, the emotions, the relational and the spiritual in the sense of vital energy, in a coherent way), the more it generates meaning for the customer and the more obvious it becomes to make the purchase.

More generally, demonstrating the brand’s know-how, expertise and commitment makes it possible to reduce price sensitivity. Indeed, after having understood the high technicality of a product, the high level of commitment of the brand, the high quality of the material used, the customer understands and accepts more easily a high pricing policy. The pillar of proof can then be strategic for brands with a premium or high-end positioning.

As you have understood, the time has come for consistency for brands and the customer has all the intelligence and the tools to control it. The McCann-Erickson firm formalized it at the beginning of the 21st century in these terms: “Increasingly, marketers understand that consumers are human beings, living, with experiential needs: consumers want to be stimulated , entertained, educated and challenged. They look for brands that provide meaningful experiences and thus become part of their lives…Experiences are personal events that occur in response to certain stimuli (for example, provided by pre-purchase and post-purchase marketing efforts). An experience involves the whole living being and can be infused into a product, used to improve a service, or created as an entity. Experiences provide a way for consumers to physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and spiritually engage with the consumption of the product or service, making the interaction truly real. »

Thus, the criteria for evaluating the evidence will appeal to all the senses but also to the client’s spiritual quest.

“Is the store dead? The ROX to the rescue of commerce”, a book by Rémi Le Druillenec and Quentin Obadia published in October 2021 by 1min30 Publishing.

THE AUTHORS: Rémi le Druillenec and Quentin Obadia co-founded Héroïne in 2020, a design agency specializing in customer experience and engagement. The ROX to the rescue of commerce”, published in October 2021 by 1min30 Publishing, 150 pages, 19.90 euros.

Retail: the store, pillar of proof for the customer